How Helping Others Be Successful Makes You Successful: A Quick Memoir of Being A Job Coach

Yesterday I quit my job as a job coach with the state of Tennessee through the Division of Rehabilitation. My job was to help folks with mental or physical disabilities search, interview for and sustain themselves in gainful employment. This has by far been the greatest job I have ever had. It was very rewarding. I thoroughly enjoyed my coworkers. I had little to complain about. I was able to apply my talents and abilities. In other words, I was able to be a professional in my vocation.

In November 2011, I was fired from being a pest technician four days after Thanksgiving. I immediately went to the Career Center and inquired in a few jobs that sounded interesting. I had never heard of being a job coach but when the job counselor told me what I would be doing, I saw it as pastoring people outside of the church. I applied for the job and waited. January of 2012, I received a call to come for an interview. An hour and a half later, I was hired.

I learned a few things working with people with disabilities.

  1. People with disabilities are just a capable to succeed as those without.
  2. However, everyone has a disability of sorts, some are just more severe.
  3. People with disabilities are people too
  4. There are more rewarding things in life than money.
  5. Making a difference in someone else’s life makes a difference in your own.
  6. Finding a career utilizing your God given gifts means no longer going to a J.O.B.
  7. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might actually like it.
  8. Coaching (teaching) people opens doors for your own learning.
  9. Everyone needs help. Don’t be afraid to assist and don’t be afraid to ask.
  10. It truly is more rewarding to give than to receive.

I could think of more but that is enough. I worked with so many different type of disabilities, from homeless to addictions, anger management to TBI, depression to overzealousness, physical limitations to mental limitations, down syndrome to manic depression. It’s amazing what so many people go through. There are so many people hurting and most times are not able to find the help they need to be successful.

I watched a homeless man literally having only the clothes on his back go from the street to having his own home, receiving disability and working twenty hours a week after fifteen years in jail and five on the street.

I watched an alcoholic go from losing everything he had including his wife and house to getting back on his feet and being stable in a job with a new home.

I watch a man with down syndrome find work in a local pizzeria.

I watched a man with no hands learn to drive a fork lift.

I watched a young woman strung out on drugs because she watched her husband get murdered in her front yard living off her son’s disability check find work at a local restaurant.

I watched a young man who had a learning disability pass his test to become a firefighter.

I watched a blind man become a journalist for a local online news source.

I watched a young woman leave jail as a felon and get her drivers license, a house, her G.E.D. and find work all within thirty days.

Sure there are some failures along the way, some clients who I couldn’t help or was non-compliant. But the highlights of this job brings me so much joy. Where I thought I could bring hope to others actually gave myself hope. I learned, more than anything, that in order to be successful, I had to help others be successful. That’s what serving truly is all about.

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A Primary Leadership Quality

I’m not a leadership guru. I’ve probably only read one Maxwell book (although I have about 10 on my book shelf). I’m not an aficionado of leadership conferences. I’ve never really even considered myself a leader. But I know I am one because I have friends who ask me the who, what, when, where, and hows of ministry. So there are some who are interested in my thoughts therefore I lead.

I have often said (and I’m not even sure where I first heard it from) that the primary goal of a leader is to develop leaders. In other words, the first job a leader should begin to undertake is seeking someone to fill his/her shoes. I know that sounds counterintuitive but the reality is if you’re a leader, you won’t be where you are for long. For numerous reasons you will find yourself moving to the next place and you can either be prepared by having developed a leader to fill your spot or leaving your spot empty creating a void in the corporation or church.

When I first came to GraceLife, I had a few initiatives. One of them was praying and seeking someone to be the worship leader at GraceLife. I know that sounds odd because I had just taken that position myself. But I knew that training and leading someone to take that spot would take a considerable amount of time. So began early finding my replacement.

By the same token, I was being discipled to pastor. My pastor spent a considerable amount of time leading me, advising me, questioning me, inspiring me,(constructively) criticizing me, training me, and simply befriending me.

Training leaders to take your spot also means training leaders to take “A” spot. Sometimes, training a leader means to train them to go. Other times, it means train them so you can go and they can stay and fill the void.

So here is where I am at. I won’t be at GraceLife Clarksville much longer. That’s not a bad thing. Because we have trained and equipped the next generation of leaders to take their place. The next worship leader will step up and take my place and I will go step into my new role as pastor of GraceLife Lewisburg.

Leadership training is a vital part of church.  Our aim at GraceLife is not to make big churches but deep Christ followers, a people who know and do the word of God, are passionate for those far from God, are a people who joyfully give, do life together on a tangible level, and who celebrate authenticity and diversity. This is all a process of discipleship.

Leaders develop leaders. Some stay and fill the void where others leave to continue the great process of discipleship by creating new families (oikos) of God. More than leadership, it is discipleship and we are all part of that process. Go make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and remember, I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

Servant Leadership

There are a handful of the same books that I read every year that I feel are conducive to me being a servant leader in the church.

  1. Spiritual Leadership – J. Oswald Sanders
  2. EntreLeadership – Dave Ramsey
  3. Following the River – Bob Sorge
  4. The Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards
  5. The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer

As I was reading Spiritual Leadership, I was questioned with the term leader. I did a quick search and the word leader is mentioned in the KJV 3 times. The word servant  is mentioned 885 times. Some verses give us concrete evidence of what I believe God is trying to tell us:

  • “If any one wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
  • “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. Because the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many”(Mark 10:42-45 par Luke 22:25-27)

I’m not trying to say that we should throw the word leader out of our church vernacular. The church needs leaders. However, I think it would do us leaders some good to give this some thought.

We Are…

…The UPRISING!

You and I both want to be part of something that’s bigger than we are, something that’s changing the world, something that has the potential to be a game shifter. This is your chance. You can partner with churches all across Clarksville Tn. to bring something that’s going to make a difference in the lives of hundreds, even possibly thousands of people in this community.

It’s call The Uprising.

Make plans for November 9th, 2012 at the Red Barn at Austin Peay State University to be part of this revolutionizing moment that has the potential to spark a revival across our city as well as our nation.

Find out more by visiting the UPRISING website.

We Are The UPRISING!

There’s Grace In Teamwork

What does it mean to have grace on a team. It means when one doesn’t perform to it’s best, you work around the problems, solve them or put in the backups, and move forward with one goal in mind; to win, to succeed, to finish the race! The St. Louis Cardinals did this very thing in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series.

The Cardinals penciled in one of the greatest pitchers for their club, Adam Wainwright. Who knew that the next three innings would explode in their face as the Nationals were just a single short of a cycle three batters into the game. This is not what you’d expect for your best starter. The Cardinals replaced Wainwright with Joe Kelly and for the next 6 innings began chipping away at the 6-0 lead the Nationals had over the Cardinals.

By the 9th inning the Cardinals were down by two Thanks to some smart heads at the plates, they loaded the bases with two outs. Descalso and Kozma bot hit for two RBIs a piece taking the lead finishing the game 9-7, a Cardinals victory. The whole time, Wainwright was sitting in the dugout shell-shocked by what he had just witnessed of his own doings. The rest of team at each inning interval would pump up their need to win without leaving Wainwright out but the pitcher couldn’t get out of his mind what he had allowed to happen.

When the game ended, it was the only time that Wainwright felt he could celebrate. ” It was the lowest I’ve ever felt in my career,” Wainwright said. “And then, all of a sudden, it’s one of the highest moments I’ve ever felt in my career. That’s the great thing about playing on an amazing team. This really is a team where you go out there and have a terrible performance like I did, the rest of the team went out there and played hard and didn’t give up.”

A team like the Cardinals did not leave Wainwright out of the celebration. They didn’t harp on him about the hole they had to dig out of. They never made Wainwright feel less of a team-mate. Wainwright never felt he wasn’t a Cardinal after the third inning.

This is a prime example of showing a team member grace, picking them up after a tough battle and moving forward with the celebration. Way to go guys. Way to show class. Way to be true team members. Way to show grace towards one of your own. The church can learn a lot from your example.

I love my St. Louis Cardinals ball club! Now let’s go beat the Giants in the NLCS!

Read more HERE.

 

The Reverse Kingdom

God’s kingdom is different from your kingdom in that it’s reversed. The world has molded us so that everything we do in our kingdom is a benefit to us. God’s kingdom says everything we do in his kingdom is for others.

If you want to be great, serve.

If you want to lead, follow.

If you have an enemy, love.

If you have, give.

If you love the flesh, you hate the spirit.

If someone doesn’t deserve, show grace.

Decrease yourself so that He may increase.

If you have wisdom, keep quiet.

Peace means living a life of hardship.

Love means being hated by and not hating those who don’t understand.

Joy means having a joyful attitude regardless of your happy feelings.

This is just the tip of the dichotomy between the two kingdoms. This to me is what makes it very difficult to live the christian life. I must admit, when I think I’m doing it right, I’m usually doing it wrong. Because my mind centers around what can I do for me, how does my actions benefit me, where can I go that would bring me great happiness, me… me… me… .

The greatness of God’s kingdom is that he says if you want to be a better person, make others around you better. I have found this is one of the keys to great leadership. Outside of Christianity, we say it like this; “There is no I in TEAM!”

Living for God can definitely be confusing because we are taught to live the mantra of ME. But when we surrender to God, then our life becomes about Him. This means breaking our thoughts about us and planting them on Him.

It’s tough.

I have to remember that every decision I make has to be about bringing more fame to Jesus rather than myself. I have to remember I am living to support a reversed kingdom; the kingdom of God.

The 31 Days Is Over But My Love Continues. Thoughts On Saying I Love You 31 Days In A Row

*I posted this on my family blog but I also wanted to share with my readers here at Yahweh’s Song because I talk a lot about marriages here as well. August 2012 I spent the month each telling my wife I loved her in unique ways. These are some thoughts from that month long campaign.

Maybe you were wondering about my thoughts after I made it through 31 days of finding 31 ways to tell my wife that I loved her. Let me first say I didn’t know the task I was taking on when I started. I thought it was a great thing but I didn’t count the cost nor did consider how stressful it would’ve gotten. I just thought it was a good idea so I started doing it.

After I got started the first few days were fairly easy. I was coming up with all kinds of stuff. Things that took seconds to pull off, other things that took elaborate planning and days of constructing. I found myself not taking the time to plan on some days and looking for easy things to do to get through the day so I could check off another day. There were also the days I couldn’t think of anything to do even though I had a list of plenty of stuff, it would be a day that those things on the list just wasn’t suffice for that day so I would just go throughout the day looking for an opportunity. Most of the time that strategy didn’t fail me.

So here are some thoughts that I had as I tackled such a feat as 31 Days To Find 31 Ways To Say I love you.

  • A lot of women seemed jealous their men are not as sweet!

Too many times to count did I get that vibe from a lot of women when they found out what I was doing. It was as if our whole marriage was summed up in the 31 days as if I do this every day ever since we’ve been married which has been for 10 years now. Trust me, I’m not that sweet all the time. There are plenty of times Carrie has wanted to knock my block off. Just not last month.

  •  Only women liked my posts. Either the men are jealous they’re not as smart or they’re upset I’m making them look bad or we have a huge epidemic of men not tangibly showing their love for their wives. 

I say that with tongue in cheek. When I would post the new blog post of what I did, women would “like” it. I never had one man like a single post on Facebook. Odd? I think not. I am joking about the guys being jealous or not as smart as I was but I did have a few guys express their irritation when their wives brought up what I was doing for my wife. Well, here’s a little advice guys… Do something like it to express how much you love your wife. You don’t have to do it all the time, but you probably need to do it more than you are. Remember, Luv Is A Verb!

  •  This is taking actual work. Meaning I have to DO something. 

Holy cow, I’m not joking!!!!! It took a lot of work. Work that I didn’t expect to do. I thought it would be easy but heck naw it wasn’t. Just like the next point, everyday I had to wake up and think about what I was gonna do for that day. I had to prepare, I had to plan, I had to strategize. Not only did I have to think about work and church and any other household chores, I had to think about how I was gonna tell my wife I loved her. Doesn’t sound that hard but try doing it for 31 days straight and in a different way each day not repeating yourself. Let me know how it works for ya!

  •  Everyday I’m forced to think about my wife. 

One of the benefits of doing this was everyday I had to think about my wife. I had no choice. When I woke up, I was forced to think about how I was gonna tell her I loved her. I’m not saying a day goes by I don’t think of her. I’m saying I had to be more intentional about it. She was constantly on my mind on the days I couldn’t think of something to do and I was looking for any opportunity that may have arisen.

  • You can plan all you want but when better ideas come up in the midst of engaging your plan, you must divert to better idea. 

Bottom line is you can plan all you want but sometimes God has better plans and you need to take advantage. I wrote a song for her but the weather got strangely warm and it rained causing our rose bushes to bloom. I had to take advantage of free flowers. The song could have waited. Always look out for better opportunities.

  • Living by faith allows you to do things you haven’t planned. Which makes living even more exciting.

Similar to the last point, when you live by faith you never know what may arise. This especially was the point on days I couldn’t find something to do. Like for instance, Carrie asked me to bring her coat to work. BAM! I can put a note in her pocket. She never expected that and I never could have planned it but it makes for more excitement (if you like that sort of thing) when you live by faith rather than having to live by a plan.

Sorry I waited so long to write this if you’ve been wondering. I took a couple of weeks off of blogging and rest my brain. So that’s why I’m just now getting to things I learned from my 31 Day campaign. We had an amazing ten-year anniversary. Like the living by faith point, we knew we were gonna go to Mammoth Cave but other than that, we had no clue about the details; where we were gonna sleep, eat, or anything we were gonna do. We just went. It was by far one of the best trips she and I have ever been on!

HERE”S TO ANOTHER TEN!