Monday, September 30, 2013

Bringing Up Girls /// Book Review

Title: Bringing Up Girls

Author: Dr. James Dobson

Pages: 285

Publisher: Tyndale

Recommend: Emphatically YES

Quotable: "You will make the difference in your daughter's life." (Page 20)

This is one of the books Charity asked me to read about 2 years ago, with seminary and moving I wasn't able to read it until recently.  In fact the book was so confusing, impacting, interesting and life changing I stopped reading it after 8 chapters.  Yep, I stopped reading it!  I took a month break from the book to think about, process and apply what I'd been reading.  Once I felt like I could pick it back up again I grabbed it and restarted reading the book.  Its not a short book, but its a great book!

Here are some major themes I took away from the book:

My daughters need me
Coming from a broken home I have a skewed view of parenthood.  I'm not saying my view is completely incorrect, I'm not saying my parents are bad people; I am saying I've never lived in a home with a set of married parents (beside my home today).  Dobson takes the time to explain, throughly in this book of how important my role is in the life of my daughters.

Show appropriate physical touch
The key word here is appropriate.  All too often, from what I read, dads are showing inappropriate physical touch: sexual touch.  My daughters need me to show them appropriate physical touch.  For me, this involves lots of hugs, kisses, cuddling, hand holding and carrying my kids.  Dobson talks about how important my role, as a father, is in my daughter's life and my physical touch will show that.  Working with students for almost a decade I've seen the effects of girls who don't have a dad and boy I don't want my kids to act like that.

Engage, Engage, Engage
There are times I want to run... from my kids.  There are times my kids are: screaming, crying, whining, and having a tantrum (I have normal kids even though I'm a pastor).  When they act like this I want to leave; just being honest.  I have actually given myself time-outs before and taken walks to clear my head.  Dobson shares about how important it is for dads to engage with their kids and not push them away.  Dads, we need to engage our kids all the time, frequently and when its tough!

I've recommended this book to so many dads.  If you're a dad go get it and start reading it!  Hit me up if you want to talk about it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Worst Punishment

I have a confession to make.  My wife knows this sin I struggle with and I want to share it with you; on Saturday nights I watch COPS.  For me, there is something about seeing people get caught for doing stupid things.  It could be the ex-criminal in me or just the need for laughter but I really enjoy COPS.

See in America we have a judicial system with different levels of security and offices to help protect our citizens.  Generally, the smaller crimes are enforced by local police officers and these criminals are taken to county jail where they are released or spend less than a year for a misdemeanor.  As the crimes increase so does the enforcement of those crimes.  If you are arrested and sentenced for a felony, you will typically go to prison for longer than a year.  As the severity of the crime committed increases so does the security around you increase.  Most people think the worst punishment is capital punishment; I disagree.  I think the worst punishment a criminal can experience is solitary confinement.  We were created to do life in relationship and the judicial system knows the worst punishment a person can experience is no human contact.  

You may feel like your Christian life is being lived in solitary confinement; you’re not experiencing fellowship with God or with other believers.  There is something special about having Christian fellowship, but Scripture tells us fellowship is secondary to fellowship with God (I John 1:1-4).  No matter where you are in life I want to share three ways you can break the feeling of solitary confinement in your life:

1) Reading Scripture

2) Time Spent in Prayer

3) Corporate and Personal Worship

What else would you add to break the feelings of solitary confinement?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Your First Interview

Over the last couple months our church has been in the process of hiring for a few roles.  With this I've read through hundreds of resumes, had a good number of phone interviews and even had some Skype convo's with people.  So far in this series of posts I've blogged about: (1) How to write your resume and (2) How to submit your resume.

Let's assume you've written amazing resume, that's no more than 2 pages, and after following the directions to submit your resume you caught the attention of your future employer.  Now lets talk about the next major step in the interview process; you're first interview.  Up till now, let's assume, you've never spoken with the person who's hiring for this role you're super interested in.  Here are four pointers to ruining your first interview and a solid way to never get a call back on the position you're so excited about:

1. Talk Bad about your Church
Your first phone/Skype interview is your chance to shine; think of it as a first date.  At one point in the conversation you will most likely be asked: "So why do you want to leave ...."

Here are two potential responses you can give:
"Well, my senior pastor is completely incompetent.  He doesn't know what he's doing and is killing the church.  We've decreased our attendance by 40% and there's no hope of it stopping.  Our Elders don't know what to do, the ministry is in shambles and I just want out."

Or you could say this:
"I'm a point in my life where God has been stirring in me to look for another place to lead.  I think I've learned the lessons I'm going to learn here and its time to move onto my next adventure in ministry.  Through prayer my wife and I really trust God has another place for us to minister."

Who would you rather hire?

2. Detail the Dysfunction 
When I was applying for a new role there were a few times I explained some of the dysfunction in too much detail.  My wife, graciously, helped me see this and we began using the line: "less is more".  A sure fire way to scare off the hiring team is to detail out all the dysfunction of your current church.  Pastors know ministry is messy, but you don't have to talk about how your friends are starting to leave the church because of the poor leadership you're under. You don't have to share how the new lead pastor has systematically fired everyone on the staff and you're the last man standing.

3. Just Keep Talking
Some of my favorite conversations in life are when I get to say nothing!  If you want to seal the deal of never getting a second interview just keep on talking.  When asked a question, make sure to talk as long as you possibly can.  When the interviewer tries to sneak a comment in there act like you didn't see them move their lips or hear anything from their mouth.  Make sure to talk too much!

4. Question the Leadership
Most likely before you get the initial call you will have been asked to, or you're smart enough to, research the church on the internet.  You may have looked at the staff, read about the different ministries, done some stalking on Facebook or read the church's position papers.  If you want to put the final nail in the coffin make sure to start off the conversation by questioning the leadership of the church or provide a critique on what their currently doing.  This is a great way to make friends and start the conversation off on the right foot.

Obviously these four pointers are completely outlandish, but unfortunately people are having conversations like this right now applying for a role.  What would you add to the list to help you completely miss out on your dream job?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peninsula /// Year One

Its been just over a year since we moved to the Peninsula; its been an amazing year being back in Cali! Charity and I've never lived in California as a married couple so its nice to be back to our home state.  I lived in Northern California back in my teens for a year and Charity has never lived here.  I figured since we've been in an amazing place I'd take some time to share some of my favorite family memories from this year:

1) Farmers Market

Well Farmer's Market isn't my favorite family memory, but its the first one to come to mind.  I've loved going to the Farmer's Market with my family; I think I like it the most.  I enjoy being able to get fresh fruit, vegetables and kettle corn for the girls.  It's not just the fact of buying the food, but its been some time for me to spend with my family outdoors.  We get to walk around, talk a little, smile, eat free samples and try new food.  I hope our time at the Farmer's Market pays off and helps our little girls have a desire to eat healthy when their older.

2) Monterey Bay Aquarium

When we moved up here we heard great things about the aquarium.  Charity took the girls to meet her sister there one day and it was so cool I knew I had to go.  Just a few weeks ago we had some friends in town, I had the day off and we packed in the Pilot to go to the aquarium.  It was great holding my wife's hand, looking at jellyfish and laughing with our kids.  We looked over the ocean, saw sea otters and touched animals I can't even name.  The aquarium has some really cool places designed just for kids!  I enjoyed watching Sophie and Leah play in these areas and seeing them be hands on with so much!

3) Pescadero State Beach

Now I love the mountains and Charity loves the beach.  The beach is 30 minutes and Tahoe is 3 hours away.  Our daughters love the beach and I get to walk with my wife on the sand.  We've been to many different beaches up and down the coast but our favorite is Pescadero State Beach.  Charity found the beach this summer and its a bit further down the coast than Half Moon Bay but worth the drive.  There are they really cool caves there Sophie and Leah love to play in!

4) Rockin' Jump 
I've only taken the girls to Rockin' jump once, but they love it!  Charity has taken them a few times and they love it!  They love jumping on the trampolines, jumping with daddy and watching me do flips.  This place has a sweet deal on Saturday mornings!  They open from 8am-10am and its only open to kids under 6.  This way our girls can jump around, run, and play in the foam pit without worrying about  big kids hurting them.  Its such a great place to have some family fun here.

5) Giants Game

One day we got free tickets to a Giants game.  It was a night game, so that meant we would have to keep Sophie and Leah up late.  We decided to pack in the car, drive to the city and enjoy the game!  We had a wonderful time watching the Giants.  We got some of the yummy treats available at the game, bought the girls Panda hats (they think the Giants are called the Panda's now).  It was great to be able to be outside with our girls, enjoying the beautiful weather!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Submitting a Résumé

With all the hiring we've been doing at Central Peninsula Church I thought it necessary to blog about how to write a resume; hoping to help some people with the help I was given years ago from a good friend.  Transition in jobs happens all the time; I'm not advocating for keeping a fresh copy of your resume, but knowing how to write one when the time comes for transition.

Now that you're resume is all fresh and ready to submit it to your future employer (think positive) here are a few tips for submitting your résumé:

Re-read the steps for submitting your résumé
In the process I've been in, looking for people, I've often wondered if people even read the steps to apply for the role.  I understand, you're excited and you want to apply for it as quick as you can but slow down.  Read the job description, take some time to pray, talk with your spouse and a confidential mentor about the role.  Re-read the job description and ask yourself some key questions:
* Do I think this role is what I'm really looking for or am I just applying to apply?
* Do I want to live in the area?
* Do I respect the leadership?
* Do they have all you can eat sushi near by?

Once you asked the important questions make sure to follow what the employer is asking for in applying for the position.  If they want your resume and a digital picture; send that and nothing else.  If they want you to call before applying do that.  No matter the role, make sure to follow the directions.  The directions are there because they want to see if you can follow directions if you don't have the job!

Send it as a PDF
When I wrote my last resume (18 months ago) I had a pretty cool layout.  I did some fancy stuff in Photoshop to catch people's attention.  I knew if I submitted resume in a Word document I might loose some of the formatting I had worked so hard to accomplish.  You could have a great font but your future employer may not have this font.  You might have your resume down to two pages but when you send it, somehow the formatting changes and it bleeds into three pages when they specifically asked for two.  The solution: send your resume as a PDF.  You can easily do this in Word or Pages, it only takes an extra 22 seconds and you won't regret the decision of having all your hard work look just the way you intended it to.

Follow up in a week
Its ok to follow-up in a week.  In fact, when you send your resume over let the church know you plan on following up in a week to just make sure they received your resume.  Some churches may have an auto-respond letting you know it was received but I would still follow up.  Following up shows two things:
1) You're really interested in the job (and you think God may be calling you there)
2) You're a person of your word (you do what you say you're going to do)

Now that you've submitted your resume what would you add to this list?

Monday, September 09, 2013

Don't Get Fat Plan

Honestly I wish I had a better name for what I'm about to write about... but I don't

When Charity was 28 weeks pregnant with Sophie I did the worse thing a dad could do; I went on a diet.  Up till that point I had eaten everything with Charity during her whole pregnancy.  I walked into the bathroom one night, weighed myself and realized I was up to 177 pounds (the most I've ever weighed in my life).  I walked out of the bathroom, told her I was going to the gym and started what I called my Don't Get Fat Plan.

The don't get fat plan has three major foundations to make it successful, and I'm about to share all my secrets with you:

1) Portion Control
This is number one for a reason.  Most people don't have self control when it comes to eating.  I can say that because I lost self control for eating in my life and I still struggle with it.  I love to eat a huge dinner with a few sodas and then pack in the dessert but it's not helpful.

The key to keeping at your ideal weight (in my plan) is to have portion control.  You can eat a footlong subway, but you don't need to the whole sandwich.  Next time you're eating a meal and your stomach signals your brain that its full listen.  Stop eating and don't worry about wasting the rest of the food, you can save it for later.

2) Eat at Set Times 
This is number two for a reason.  I have five set times in the day I eat my meals.  They are usually at: 8am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm and 5:30pm.  I can't always eat at these set times but I do my best to eat within 30 minutes of each time.  I eat a normal breakfast, have a healthy snack at 10am, eat a normal lunch, have another healthy snack in the afternoon and then eat a smaller dinner.  Dinner is the culprit for me to overeat at; so you gotta be ready to say no!

Here are some ideas for breakfast:
Home-made smoothie, bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, waffles with honey, pancakes with mixed berries or bacon and eggs.

Snack options:
Banana (my favorite), dried mangos, raw almonds, apple, apple with peanut butter or chips and salsa.

3) Work Out
I put this last on the list for a reason.  I don't get to the gym five times a week.  I don't do cross fit (although I'd like to try it) and the reality is I'm a dad!  I wish I could get to the gym three times a week but most often its 1 or 2 times max.  I get there for about 60 minutes, do some cardio, work out and do some more cardio.  I don't lag around.  I don't stare in the mirror.  I go to work out.

There you have the basics of my Don't Get Fat Plan.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Writing a Resume

On a cool San Diego evening I sat down with a former CEO of a telecommunications company for help on my resume.  Lets be honest there were a few things I didn't want on my resume (not many people are looking to hire a former drug dealer).  I had no clue what a resume was supposed to look like, what order it should go in, how long it should be or what it needed to contain.  Thankfully my friend, Tom, offered me some helpful advice for my first resume.  Ten years later my resume looks drastically different than it did when I was in Bible College but the principals my friend taught me stay the same.

Over the last several months our church has had a few key positions open up; some were from transition and some were staff positions we added due to our growth.  Open positions means lots of resumes to read.  While reading these resumes I've wished many of them could sit down with Tom and get the same helpful advice I was given; I think 30 minutes with Tom would help most people create an attention grabbing resume.

Since you don't know Tom, let me share some of his advice and some of what I've learned:

Less is More
I know you think having an 8 page resume is going to wow your future employer but don't get caught in the trap.  Tom taught me to keep my resume to one page, yep one page.  I tried to push him to let me make it longer but he adamant against it.  You have to be able to catch their attention in one page he taught me.  I would extend it to two pages, if needed, but if you can keep it to one do it!

When it comes to your resume, less is more.  This is your one chance to hook your future church so don't make your resume too many pages; it gives your future employer a chance to get lost and confused.  You want to WOW your future church right off the bat, not confuse them.

Keep it Justified 
I was 22 years old when I bought my first computer.  It was a Dell computer that I upgraded the hard drive to 4GB, yep a whopping 4GB hard drive.  On my computer I had Microsoft Word.  In Word there is a cool function called "Justified" (this is not the Christian term).  Tom actually had a resume template I used with the paragraphs already justified.  When you use this Justification tool is keeps your paragraphs all looking the same.  Basically it makes your resume look clear and clean.  When you write your resume use this function!

Leave Out Your Testimony
God has done amazing things in your life and you want to share that!  God is working in you and has saved you from some crazy things but don't write out your testimony in your resume.  I wanted to write out my story about a broken home, drug use and jail time because God saved me but Tom helped me see how it wasn't helpful (remember, keep it to 1-2 pages).

If you really think you need to write out your testimony in your resume let me ask you this question: If you were applying at Apple, would you put your testimony in your resume?  If you answered "No" you got the question right.  Use the same logic for your church resume.  When you get your phone interview you will have a chance to share your story with voice influx and passion, not in Times New Roman.

Section it Out
My first resume was not the prime example for sectioning it out well, but Tom helped me clean in up.  When you look at your resume put your best foot forward; this is where sections help.  Do you want your education first or ministry experience?  Do you think your missions work or family information is most important?  You need to decide what is more important to you, create sections and put the needed information into those sections.

For my last resume I went with these sections, in this order:
Leadership in Ministry
Personal Achievements
Skills and Strengths
Mission Trips/ Outreach Experience

I wanted whoever looked at my resume to know my family is the most important part of my life.  After seeing that they could move into the other areas of my leadership, education and experience in ministry.

I'm not saying you have to use all my categories, or keep it to two pages.  You may think a justified resume looks horrible and you are welcome to that opinion.  I'm just another pastoral leader sharing what I look for in qualified people with a vocational call to ministry.