POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Giving Tuesday

In response to the focused commercialization of the holiday season, a recent cultural phenomenon has also emerged known as "Giving Tuesday." After we have tracked down the deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the following Tuesday is designated a day for generosity. 

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This year, even on Giving Tuesday, would you consider a year end gift to help Power of Change. Our family and ministry is focused on impacting and influencing the coming generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have a special year and match going on to close 2016 and really bee your support. If you'd like to contribute please see this link. 

2016 Year End Match

Many Thanks

 

Strength enough to get it on

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors of all time…just fires me up. There are a few things in this world that we need to keep high. Today I'm thinking of three: humility, integrity and hope. This quote pushes my hope to keep at the good work of the kingdom of Jesus.

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I know this feeling fills our epoch, and I think it freezes our epoch. For our Titanic purposes of faith and revolution, what we need is not the cold acceptance of the world as a compromise, but some way in which we can heartily hate and heartily love it. We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return at evening.

No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? 

Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.

GK Chesterton Orthodoxy

I'm in, you in?

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There are many Christians across the racial and ethnic spectrum who pray, love and work hard to maintain the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace across all the things that we have inherited due to our history both good and evil.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that we all continue that work together despite the two presidential candidates that were put before the American people. I voted for neither of them. I would not and could not vote for either per my own conscience.

I pray this mess does not divide those of us who have worked so hard together. We have built some good ground together friends and I pray that we will continue to excel and build still more. We have to be committed to empathize, love and hear from one another.  There were and are many people involved in this election who were and are very fearful of the future. With either candidate and either outcome. We must work for justice, live in compassion and walk humbly with God. We must stand for righteousness and extend the grace of God to others in the suffering sacrificial servant's work.

We have a more excellent ruler and a more excellent way. We have a coming king and kingdom. We have much to repent of now and much in which we have hope. Most importantly, we look to Jesus and in the encouragement of the Scriptures we find hope.

I'm in. You in?

The Works of Candice Millard

Over the years I have grown to appreciate reading history from various eras and epochs. I have deeply enjoyed the works of Roger Crowley and his treatment of the Mediterranean world in the middle ages. I have loved the American narrative history of David McCullough. The telling of the stories of various spies is in World War II by Ben McIntyre have fascinated and the historical intrigue of the works of Erik Larson I have found thrilling. Over the last few years I have grown a deep appreciation for another historical author and her works. Namely, Candice Millard.

The first book I read from her was entitled "Destiny of the Republic" and is a wonderful look at the life, assassination and medical treatment of President James A. Garfield. She introduced me to a time in history I knew little about and a president whose tenure was shortened by a bullet, or more accurately, an infection from a minor bullet wound. She also featured the technological innovations of Alexander Graham Bell and how certain technologies and medical knowledge could have easily saved this president if just a few years later in history. Recently, I took up her new work on the young years of one Winston Churchill

Her newest book entitled "Hero of the Empire" features happenings leading up to and during the Boer Wars between the British Empire and various republics in South Africa. I learned much about young Churchill, how leaders are formed and shaped as well as some early history and precursors to one of the more racist regimes in world history. 

I cannot recommend the works of Millard enough and all three of her published books get two thumbs up from me. Enjoy any of the following...

The River of Doubt - Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

The River of Doubt - Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

Destiny of the Republic - A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

Destiny of the Republic - A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

Hero of the Empire - The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill

Hero of the Empire - The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill

In

Working the System - Scheduling and Work flow as an Entrepreneur

Over the years I have mainly been involved with start ups. We helped start Athletes in Action ministries at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech. We started a college and young adult crew at a growing church, we helped plant churches in New Jersey for almost eight years and today we are in the process of starting a new non-profit ministry.

Working in such settings requires a certain kind of motivation, self-discipline and personal organization. It is easy to be lazy and unorganized or its also easy to work all the time. It requires one to prioritize and schedule one's own work life in a way that is both effective and healthy. In such settings if you don't get things done, nothing gets done. In this brief post I want to share a few things about the way I have developed a system to get things done. Still not sure if I've been highly successful or not, but here is the way I do things. 

Begin with a block schedule 

Block out time each week for the regular tasks, meetings and priorities related to your most central roles. I include things like exercise, devotional time with the Lord as well as things central to your vocation/work. What things are in the must do category each day, each week, each month, each quarter, each year.  Block out and reserve the time. I also think it's wise to include specific blocks for correspondence and any necessary administration. For example, don't do your email all day, block out times when you will (and will not) answer emails. Also remember to block in some margin to do some fun things like watching Premier league soccer games early Saturday mornings. :-) Keep in mind that proverb about "all work and no play" and more importantly God's command for us to rest. Block it all in and this will give you bones for the skeleton of your life and schedule. 

Find a system of triage that works for you

Triage allows an ER doctor to evaluate a patient and make decisions as to how to prioritize her care and attention. If a guy comes in spurting blood at the neck, a good triage system will put that person ahead of the guy with the sniffles. Triage also needs to be applied to the relationships, tasks and opportunities that you wish to make or come your way. In doing effective triage, I do think some sort of quadrant system of important, unimportant, urgent and non-urgent and is helpful. If something is urgent and important, do it now. If important and non-urgent, schedule it. If not important and urgent, run! Just kidding. Lovingly help that bit of urgent on to someone for whom it can be important. Finally, if not important and non-urgent simply say "no" because ignoring it to death may come across rude and uncaring. Saying no quickly helps us all know what to do next. A system of triage helps you sort through tasks, needs, etc. It also gives you a way of thinking and acting to determine if you are the right person to do something.

Place tasks or to dos into your life and schedule

I personally like to put anything I'm going to do in my actual calendar and forgo complex to-do listing. For me, if I cannot determine when something will be done, I'm not sure it's mine to do. Now I will use a whiteboard or a notepad to map out some short-term tasks but these are usually tasks related to things that I have put in my calendar.  Modern calendaring software allows us to schedule both events and the corresponding work for them along with timed reminders. If you love to-do lists by all means go for it. Just make sure things land in your actual life and you triage that list well.

I underestimate my productivity when I calendar things

This may sound strange but this is an important way of doing things for me. What this means is that if something ends up taking me 40 minutes and I have allocated an hour to the task, then I will have time for reflection, minor diversions and a bit of a release from focus. It allows each day to not feel as frenetic in pace. So if I need to do something and I know I can get it done in 50 minutes or so I block off an hour. If I'm not certain how long something will take I block off an hour. I always make time allocations generously but not wastefully. It would be equally unwise to block out an hour for a 10 min task or phone call. Giving myself ample time for my work also makes me feel super victorious on the days where I have high-energy and efficiency and get a whole lot done. 

When calendaring anything count the full cost

Whenever you go about accomplishing anything you have to account for the full amount of necessary time for the task. This means blocking out actual preparation time along with any commitment to a project, person, speaking engagement or group meeting. Scheduling in the time for preparation, prayer and focus helps to see what the actual cost of something is to my life. How much energy, prep and focus do I need to do XYZ and to do it right? This also helps with decision-making as to whether something should be on my plate or not or I should say yes to any invitation or not.

And this may be a little ridiculous...but I also record all my actual time

When I deviate from my schedule and do other things during the day I put in my calendar what I actually did that day.  This helps me reallocate time for things not yet completed as well as to hold myself accountable for what I'm actually doing each day. Furthermore, this practice also allows others (staff, church elders, boards, wives and family) to know what you do with your time. Remember, we are accountable to God and others for how we make use of our days. Additionally, having mysterious "time sinks" in our lives will hinder our effectiveness. Did I also mention that we are to have time in our life for devotion, thinking and exercise and fun? We don't have to be all work and no play to account for our work and play. :-) 

These are just a few principles I use to manage myself day to day in settings where the structure and workflow must come from my own initiative. I'll close with a listing of a few tools I use in my own flow of things.

Tools I use most frequently

Covey's classic work has helped me to try to work within my roles and relationships. Allen's work has helped me triage emails and tasks effectively in order to GTD. Both works I still find helpful for focusing my life and energy. 

I use my google calendar and multiple color coded calendars like a crazy person. My calendar, my kids Futbol travel calendars, practice schedules, even the games of my favorite sports teams all make it in to my week view with special colors. Any modern calendaring system can use shared and online calendars. So whether it's Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal or something else, you can implement this. For mobile, I particular enjoy Readle's Calendars 5 for iOS and an app called Fantastical.

I do use notepads, whiteboards and Evernote to dump and dictate thoughts. I find I think well out loud, so talking and capturing those things with speech to text I find effective although it leads to some typos LOL. Finally, for team work and leadership, collaborative task and communications, applications like Trello and Slack have been helpful of late.  

However you skin the cat of your daily workflow and productivity, I do pray that you find focus to love and serve well with the time you have been given. I hope some of the above may help you along the way as well. 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:15, 16

Churches - Make a Web Site and Check it Twice

Just a quick heads up for churches out there. Every so often think about doing a quick audit of your web site. Check it over to see if any information is out of date, if any announcements refer to past events and if any links are broken and no longer work. As much as it is cool to know you had a men's ministry 9 months ago, tell me what's happening now and in the future. Your web site and/or mobile apps are your front door and represents your community. Try to keep it as current, straight and cleaned up as possible. 

As my family has looked around at various churches there are too many that leave up old dates, broken links and inaccurate information on their site. Here's a simple and good practice. At the start of a new ministry or school year, check your pages, update all dates, calendars and schedules and get rid of any old links that don't work. Even leaders can click through their site and make sure things are ship shape. A web site communicates in a myriad of ways. It is a statement of who you are, your flow and its a place to communicate to the public, your visitors and members. 

Give some care to your web site today to show that you do indeed care. A web site that is long in the tooth technologically, not up to date chronologically and neglected regularly conveys something to me. It may not be what you intend to communicate but it can say to the world "we don't really care." 

No webmaster, tech girl or guy at a church is perfect. Stuff can get off point and out of date. Just repent and go make it right. Hit up that CMS today. You know what to do tech-master.

Man Matters

A little over a year ago, I began to process with some friends and mentors the possibility of transitioning out from the church we had planted in New Jersey. Those conversations were littered with questions like, "When is the right time to step away from leadership in a church? "Have I done what I sensed the Lord calling me to do in New Jersey?" "Are things in a position where I can leave things in the capable hands of others?" 

I also asked several brothers what they saw in me in terms of my work and ministry. What are the things they saw as my strengths? What are the things they thought that I must continue to engage in order to be faithful to my calling from God? 

One of these gentleman, my father-in-law, challenged me to continue the work I do with men in and through the local church. He conveyed to me that he felt like I was gifted to communicate to and inspire men towards the Lord and faithfulness in their lives. I simply agreed as I am persuaded that men, particularly young men, need to be engaged with the gospel. Men need to be lovingly encouraged and exhorted to be servant leaders in their homes, in the church and in the city. 

In our day we see plenty of concern for the good work of equality, elevating women and opportunity for all. Yet what is happening among this generation of young men is sobering. I won't go into full detail in this particular blog post, but young men are falling behind and almost every category and attainment. There are fewer male students in college across all groups, fewer men obtaining graduate degrees and many young men lack ambition, confidence and leadership skills to navigate their world. 

Psychologist Guy Zimbardo has infamously argued that there is a demise of guys today where boys are struggling socially and flaming out in school (If you have not seen his TED talk, hit it up, its less than 5 min). Additionally, Samuel D. James recent article America's Lost Boys, highlights the lack of ambition in many men to even work. Rather than pursuing something with their time and gifts, they are filling their time with virtual pursuits of entertainment and sensuality and they are quite happy about it. Literally living the dream off of parents or girlfriend while happily doing a whole lot of nothing. Furthermore, I meet men all the time who feel isolated, discouraged and disconnected from their own hearts and pursuit of God. Guys in our day need to be engaged, inspired and encouraged to be more than passive consumers of amusement and called to impact their world with their gifts, strengths and unique calling as men.

As we invest our lives with Power of Change we hope to impact and influence coming post-Christian generations. This means young men, fathers and those who lead them will be a central part of our focus. Or as I like to say, we desire to serve the three Ps: pastors, parents and church planters

This fall I am doing two men's retreats where my prayer is to call men to servant leadership while encouraging them and exhorting them forward as followers of Christ. Men are in a fight but it is a good fight. God would call us to fight with and for our brothers so that we might stand firm to the end in faithfulness to Jesus and his mission. Man to man we need to be walking together. We need to see older men pointing younger men to the pathways of hard work and faithfulness over time. We need to see younger men inspiring elders with a focus in their passions and zeal. Yet connecting the generations is in no way an easy pursuit. Let me share a quick example.

Photo by Stefano Tinti/iStock / Getty Images

A few weeks back a friend grabbed me after a Sunday worship gathering to talk about his desire to mentor young guys. He also shared some difficulty he has encountered in the past. The young guys are struggling but usually won't ask for someone to mentor them. The older guys feel like nobody really wants to hear from them but they would love to connect with the younger brothers. It's almost a catch-22 of middle school dance proportions. The younger and the older men seem to be standing on the walls on each side of the room knowing they both need to learn to dance. Men must learn to step across the room and tell another guy that you need his wisdom and input. This is particularly important for men who grew up without or are separated from the wisdom of their Dad.

My own hope is to continue to be an influential friend in the journey for other men. To point them to "the man", Jesus of Nazareth, and the joy of following him in their homes, their church and in their city. It is not an easy path today for guys but with other brothers we might find our way forward by faith. I am convinced that the power of change lies within the power of a God who wants to transform men so that they may reflect his goodness and glory. Furthermore, there are some wonderful byproducts of this pursuit. Namely, women will be served and loved and children might flourish under the care of good men. 

The world certainly sees the outcomes of disconnected or abusive masculinity. We have reaped a whirlwind of unguided and unfocused men. The facts of the fatherless are clear and there remain far too many victims of domestic violence. Yet the apostle Paul teaches us something different, "behold I will show you a more excellent way." (1 Corinthians 12:31) We must put before one another the way of love, the way of Jesus and a way in which men use their strength in humility to the glory of God.

That's our story here in our home team family and with Power of Change. We pray that by his power we might be strengthened, protected and kept faithful in and through our work with men. Men matter to God and we want to see them thrive as servant leaders under the headship of Jesus in our day.  We hope many others will work and pray to these same ends.