John Williams – Creativity and Hard Work.

Personal Growth

Through the end of May and the first part of June I traveled quite a bit. My wife and I racked up Over 5000 miles, crossing 13 states, spending nights in 9 hotel and dorm rooms. The trek took us on a journey to Boston on a church trip, and then Jennifer and I went to Birmingham for a convention. There is more to share about both journeys, but I want to focus on one take-away from the Boston trip.

Fruits of Labor

While our group explored the Freedom Trail, Concord, and Plymouth, one outstanding encounter happened at a Friday night concert at The Boston Pops. They were hosting a John Williams tribute night. That’s right the John Williams music that is the movie soundtrack of my childhood – Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Close Encounters, and many more!

Boston Pops Conductor, Keith Lockhart, was a joy to watch as he conducted these all too familiar tunes under the flash of the movie screen above him. I was in awe as these musicians, pros, the best likely in the world at their craft seemingly played with ease the scores that evoke so much emotion. The music swelled and flowed and carried us all along for a grand ride through these iconic films. My wife mentioned that at times she felt so absorbed in the moment to forget that the music was being performed in our presence.

Certainly the conductor and musicians are quite arguably the best. But, the music did not “just happen.” We were experiencing something that had taken countless hours to create.

Focused Creativity

The Pops conductor would lead the orchestra through incredible sweeping pieces, and then take time in between songs to describe details from that particular piece. But, even better, he would segue to Williams himself in video interviews describing his process behind the scenes. Williams shared how tunes and notes were chosen, to his special relationship with writers and directors. He gave so many incredible stories that were a real thrill to hear.

But one thing struck me. One thing has been a major takeaway.

Get to Work

With easy online access to Williams’ talent and creativity, which is immense (just google it), he shared about his own work ethic. Williams, 87 years young, shared that even now, he has a robust routine. It consists of him working 6 days a week (likely 6.5) and involves working in a studio with his favorite pianos, writing out scores of music. From early in the morning, until the evening, he stays focused on the hard work of writing. He mentioned he takes a break for a lunch and a walk mid-day.

You see, I believe many like to assume that, “Oh, he’s just talented,” or “It is easy for him to write like that,” and that is an error. A serious error. There is no doubt this man has been given much in creativity and ability. But, it is nothing without his drive to put pen to paper, or pencil to score in this case. John Williams truly displays creativity coupled with hard work. He quipped in the video dialogue that what has taken him hours on end to dream, create and write out – it takes the brilliant musicians who receive it only moments to play it!

All Thrust No Vector, OR Focus

From this experience, I am encouraged by the coupling of creativity and work ethic. I have a dear friend who is a veteran pilot and current airline captain. He mentioned that through his years he has come across many a young pilot who are “all thrust and no vector.” Meaning, you can have passion, zeal, creativity deluxe, but if there is no channel like a river bed, or no trajectory for a million dollar jet, that energy may never be captured or even released, or worse crashed.

Through this encounter with the heart and mind of John Williams, I am encouraged by two things: that age is relative, and that harnessing creativity takes hard work. I believe we have all been given unique skills, abilities and creativity. Are you working at your creative side and production or simply hoping something just happens?

If you are ever in Boston, definitely go to The Pops – you will be glad you did! Until we return, I do hope to purchase/download this gem that was mentioned at the concert: (Affilitate link used) “Lights, Camera…Music, Six Decades of John Williams.”

Recommended Church Assessment

Discipleship, Leader Resources, Personal Growth

It is just about time for my annual check-up at the doctor. I know, not real fun stuff to blog about. But attempting to eat right and trying to exercise is only one part of being healthy. Check-ups, wellness checks, and assessments are part of a healthy journey. I can think I am fine, but it helps to know to what degree I am okay.

Have you ever wondered how healthy your church is? Would you know how people in your church rate their own spiritual growth and health? What would the results of some key metrics tell you about their personal maturation, relationship with God and others, heart for the Gospel, their own worship of God individually and corporately? You see, it is one thing to guess how we are doing. It is entirely another to actually investigate it.

Assessment Tool: Transformational Church

In 2018 the ministry staff at my home church began exploring a way to assess our spiritual health and maturity. We wanted to find a tool that would help us dive into some key metrics of overall spiritual health. One of the lead staff found Transformational Church Assessment Tool. By the developers’ own admission, they know no assessment is flawless. However, it is powerful and incredibly well-rounded in its exploration of key areas of growth and maturity.

Personal Impact

This tool is being used by our church to seek out how we are really doing as a group/body (confidential individual results). We wanted to get past some overly simplistic metrics like “how many attend.” It also has another powerful component. I am now readily aware of how I am doing personally. The assessment explored areas of maturity in my life about my personal discipleship, sharing the Gospel, private and corporate worship, giving, my gifts and serving others. But here’s another bonus. Many of you are likely aware of the “Hawthorne Effect.” I do not mean to refer to this effect being used in some manipulative way. The reality is I am now more conscious and aware of what I would call “accountability.” What was unknown in my life or a guess before is now known.

Church Impact

We have developed this year’s entire Theme around being aware of our growth and pursuit of following Jesus. In college I had a class called “Concepts in Fitness.” We had to do a pre-test and post-test that involved max sit-ups, push-ups, mile run time, etc. Part of the grade was to track improvement of our health through the semester by the post-test. Hence, that is our goal this year: at the end of 2019 our church is more aware of our strength level of our discipleship and key areas of improvement. And more importantly, our goal individually. We are challenging each other to grow in key areas. I want to and need to grow in key areas. Areas that I am now aware of clearly. We are providing resources to enhance growth in those aspects of discipleship, and encouraging each other in the journey!

Please share any insights you’ve discovered on a path such as this. For you!

GiANT TV Leadership Development on the Go!

Leader Resources, Personal Growth

Do you ever wish you could experience leadership development anytime, anywhere? A few years back I had the opportunity to walk through leadership development and growth with GiANT Worldwide. I learned the value of the lifelong journey of growing and improving as a leader. GiANT provided concepts and delivery options for me to explore change and challenge in my own life.

There are variety of ways to experience GiANT’s leadership tools as they describe and offer on their website, from books to personal encounters. But, I want to share something exciting that is new and particularly unique.

GiANT TV

The incredible tools, concepts and insights I have experienced with GiANT can now be experienced anywhere, anytime and on the go through GiANT TV.

If you use the following link, you will be able to experience GiANTtv free for one month! Check it out and enjoy the journey!

GiANT TV free for one month!

For more information about GiANT Worldwide click here.

Change

Discipleship, Leader Resources, Personal Growth

Change is rapid. This past spring, a group of my buddies and I headed out to Arkansas to kayak Mulberry Creek. The scenery is incredible, the river is a beautiful blue and the kayaking a thrill. The guys on the trip made the trip a blast, and we did not hurt for great laughs and amazing food! One of the guys, Kevin, was our fearless leader. He knew the area well. But more importantly, he had been on the river and knew its twist and bends, and dangerous spots. The journey was a thrill and enjoyable, but it had plenty of moments that took insight and care. There were changes at every corner.

Change can be risky

As I floated the river, I couldn’t help but consider the thrill, but also the peril that could be involved in change. We have been in a transition at the church where I currently serve. Our Pastor of 15 years left for another great ministry leadership position. That meant we embarked on a journey in search of a new Senior Pastor. Here are some resources that have made this journey successful.

A Key Guide

Ready for change

One resource came in the form of a person. Having someone come and lead the organization/staff through a time to consider change and all that it means was a blessing. One of our friends in ministry is a leader and consultant with our state church convention, Brett Selby. We invited him to a day retreat at a facility in the Oklahoma River Parks area. He helped us process some early days of change – changes that at that time were happening more about our former pastor leaving. But, he also helped us consider what it will be like now, with a new pastor coming. He recommended the book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.

A Key Book

A journey that I have been on is with another resource, the book, Leading Major Change in Your Ministry by Jeff Iorg. This book chronicles Dr. Iorg’s victories and challenges as he has helped churches, denominational entities, and a seminary to make changes. The seminary changed its name, and moved its entire campus to a new region! Dr. Iorg uses frank but respectful anecdotes from his journey, key biblical passages and clear instruction in the best ways to lead a group through change.

Great book on change

Of the four churches I have served in since Seminary in the 1990’s, 3 have had Senior Pastor changes. Much of what I had experienced in the past was very good and healthy, but these additional resources and insights from Brett, and these two books have helped put into words what I have experienced. These resources have also helped me explore and expand areas that I know need growth and attention in my leadership development.

What resources have you used as you have experienced change?

Bible Study Tools

Discipleship, Personal Growth

Currently I am reading through the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament.  I’m a guy who’s grown up in church, even been to seminary, and I still have to slow down and think through some really hard to grasp passages.  Ezekiel no doubt is an entire book that takes some extra time and thought – what is this about, who is it written to, what do these visions mean, how does it apply to me?  If it is difficult for a seasoned believer to understand complex Bible passages or books, imagine being a new believer or unchurched?  Wouldn’t it be great to have some tools to help in the journey of understanding God’s Word?  Here are four great tools to get in anyone’s hands to help in understanding the Bible.

The Bible Project.  Just this morning while reading through Ezekiel, I clicked on youtube to this great resource, pulled up the comprehensive flyover of the book and got my bearings on the who, what, when, where of this important writing.  The link I gave here takes you to their actual website.  Simple, clear, and visual, this tool is like a quick map to gain your bearings, and even today I learned new things.

The Bible App.  Thank you LifeChurch for your creation of and investment in this app.  I use it daily, weekly!  From looking up a passage in relatively any translation or even language, to unique Bible studies and reading schedules, this app is the ultimate.  I use it for my daily reading using my favorite format that is reading through the Bible in chronological order.

Understanding the Bible by Max Anders.  The Bible is a library of books in your hands; sections of history and poetry, prophecy and letters.  One thing it is not is a novel.  It does not read in sequence according to years, it is chopped up.  Anders takes the Bible and helps the reader grasp the grand sweep of history through the Bible, how all the books flow from creation to eternity, where and how a minor prophet relates to Moses and the Gospel writers.  This book is a must for new believers or seasoned saints.

Logos.  The new believer to the mature can certainly use Logos and its tools, but this is likely more appropriate for the deep divers, pastors and teachers who rely on the languages behind the Bible translation used and technical commentaries.  It certainly is for the Bible student who is looking to offload a library full of physical books for an even bigger digital library; a library that instantly pulls a search or query from all those books into one click.  It really is incredible and I am grateful for this amazing tool.

There you have it.  Four powerful resources to help anyone get to know the Bible better!

Family Values

Marriage and Family, Personal Growth

A couple of years back, the Griffin crew headed up to one of our all-time favorite spots, Red River, New Mexico.  It is a great mountain town in the Enchanted Circle of New Mexico.  We have skied there, hiked there, shopped there, fished there and yes, have had intense go-cart and putt-putt golf competitions.  Recently a family who is dear to us headed up that way, and I made mention of two great hikes, one up to Middle Fork Lake and the other to Lost Lake. 

From Lost Lake you can scramble on up to the top of New Mexico, Wheeler Peak.  Both lakes are beautiful, but you have to pick a direction.

In life, knowing your direction is key.  Core Values, that is the direction or vector you choose in life for yourself, your family or for an organization can either be accidental, or they can be thought through and chosen.  Either way, you are definitely headed somewhere.  Wouldn’t it be better to choose your direction?

For my family, there are identified values.  These guide our heading – which by the way, we may not know the ultimate destination or outcome until we get there – but these values set the course.

Here are our Griffin family values:

Lifelong learning

We are committed to the pursuit of learning and stretching ourselves – about God and all He has created, from history, cultures and languages, to the arts, sciences and nature.

Launching pad

Our family is a launching pad, for each of us – to go, explore, build relationships and community, and challenge ourselves through mistakes and success.

Christ-likeness

Our desire is to be like Jesus – to obey His commands to love God and love our neighbors.  To be filled with the Spirit and display the fruit of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and most of all, love.

Unconditional love

In a world filled with pain, painful choices, and the pain we may endure or cause, regardless, we are committed to unconditional love and acceptance.  We are committed to a bold love that can say “no”, that challenges, rebukes, corrects, forgives and restores.

Joy

We pray that our home is filled with much joy and laughter!  Life is hard – why make it more difficult by being unkind?  Slow to speak, slow to anger – a gentle answer turns away wrath.  Peace.

 

There you have it.  These values keep us on the path to what I believe will continue to be a very fulfilling and rewarding future.  Which trail will you choose?