Ministry Tip: Get the Right People Involved at the Right Time

Have you ever realized that you were getting great feedback…after it was too late?  This happens to me constantly.  I have an idea.  I start making plans and arrangements.  I get just enough folks on board to implement the idea.  We execute the idea and it goes ok.  Just ok.  Afterward, I have people who could have offered invaluable information and suggestions.  Unfortunately, it is too late.

As the leader, pastor, director, whatever – it is our responsibility to have the right people involved at the right time.  Tomorrow is probably not the right time.  After the event or decision is not the right time.  It is difficult and hard work to have conversations where you might not get your way before the event happens.  The old saying of, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission,” is funny and stupid.  Don’t be that guy.  You will not last long and you will not make a difference.

Ministry Tip: Make Only The News That You Intend To Make

I was listening to a podcast a few days ago and heard a fantastic line, “Make only the news that you intend to make.”  It was used when discussing a hearing that a public figure made concerning some sensitive and important information.

I wonder how often I succeed in, “making only the news that I intend to make,” in the meetings I attend and lead.  How often do I muddy the waters by interjecting unhelpful comment?  How often to I sidetrack our intended purpose by offering up an opinion that will get more “press” the following week than the original objective of the meeting?  Make only the news that you intend to make…I couldn’t have said it better.

My Favorite: Pen (you can get at your favorite Office Supply Store)

Listen, I get it.  You have been waiting for me to write this.  I have had countless friends, Tom, Jack, David, and others, hounding me wanting to know what I think the best inexpensive pen you can buy from most office supply stores.  So I’m going to tell you.

The best you can get!

The Pentel Energel Needle Tip in .5 is my go-to pen.  It is cheap enough so I don’t mind giving them away or losing one, but a great writer on any paper.  Surprise, surprise my favorite feature is the almost instant drying time. #leftyproblems  But it isn’t just how fast it drys.  Pentel’s blue ink is one of the most vibrant I have seen (apart from some Fountain Pen inks, I’m looking at you Noodlers Baystate Blue!).  I have been pleased with all of the colors I have used, Black, Blue, Red, and Green.  Although I have seen some bleed through on the green with some types of paper.  Pentel gives you plenty of options in style, pen tip (Classic or Needle tip), and width of the line (from .38 to 1.0).   You can learn more than you care to know about them at a great blog post at JetPens.

I would also add an honorable mention to the Uni-Ball Signo RT1 .38 for my favorite micro gel pen.  You can’t get this style in stores in the U.S. (sorry Tennessee).  I discovered both of these and more from Brad’s Pen Addict list of Top 5 Pens.  It is really the place to go if you want to start exploring some other options.  The Signo RT1 gives an incredibly thin line (I write small!) and looks stylish and distinct.

So to recap.  Throw out your terrible Pilot G2.  I know they are everywhere but so is trash and I don’t see you picking that up and writing with it!  Spend $5 on a 3 pack of the Energel pens.  If you don’t love them, mail them to me!  I will gladly use them.

Ministry Tip: Always Tell The Story

People want to know why.  They want to know WHY you think you should create a new program.  They want to know WHY you believe it is time to end a ministry that used to be so powerful.  They want to know WHY you are sure it is time to pivot and change course.  People aren’t thinking about the thing you are planning or plotting as much as you are and have been – it is all new to them.  And they want to know why they should care…

When people want to know why, tell a story.  Tell them why by painting a picture of a preferred future. Tell them about someone who could benefit from this new idea.  Tell them a story.  People aren’t moved by data or motivated by “this other church I heard is doing it…”  They are excited by stories.  Tell them some.

 

Ministry Tip: Stop Being Yourself

I don’t always recommend this – but stop being yourself!  Let me unpack that.  Stop being yourself, when you want to understand someone else.  Most of us grew up hearing the expression, “walk a mile in their shoes.”  In ministry and life, we often need to see something from someone else’s perspective.  That is actually a pretty solid adage.   But it still has one obstacle in understanding someone else – us.  We are still imagining and envisioning the world from their perspective but with our history.   I heard Reggie Joiner say it this way at Orange Conference in 2016,  “Empathy is the ability to press pause on your own thoughts and feelings long enough to understand someone else’s.”  To imagine what they are feeling, we have to be able to stop being ourselves.  To press pause on ourselves and consider the issue as the other person.  Can you stop being yourself long enough to be someone else?  It is important if you want to understand those around you.

Fountain Pen Ink – Sheaffer Skrip Red

Sheaffer Skrip Red or Sheaffer Red is an ink I heard about from the Pen Addict Podcast when they had Mike Matteson from Inkdependance.  He is an established and thorough ink reviewer.  He knows his stuff. On the podcast, he was asked what his favorite Red ink is and he said Sheaffer Skrip Red.  It is a little surprising considering how many varieties of red inks their are to settle on a relatively commonplace ink.

Sheaffer Skrip Red in Lamy Safari

I got a sample from Goulet Pens and put it in my Lamy Safari with a Fine nib. I have to agree with Mike, this is a great color.  It is vibrant without being so “red,” that you can’t use it in day to day use. It is just a fantastic color.  The drying time is a little bit of an issue. Being a lefty stinks when it comes to most inks.  That isn’t Sheaffer Red’s problem, probably more of my writing style.
I would absolutely recommend it.  Again, go check out Mike’s post about it to get a fuller idea about what it looks like and how it handles on different types of paper.

Ministry Tip: Don’t Think Alone

I recently bumped into a ministry situation that had me stumped.  I didn’t know what to do.  This is typical for some of us pastors.  But the one thing that I know how to do is phone a friend.  So, I called a pastor friend who has been through a similar situation.  As I reflected on the solution I was reminded a valuable lesson – I should not think alone.  It rarely is the best option.  Get others involved in your processing so you find the best outcome.

My Favorite: Star Wars Films

I don’t confess to be, “that guy,” when it comes to Star Wars.  I don’t know the name of the moons around Hoth or exactly how Stormtroopers died on the Death Star.  But I have grown up watching the movies.  I, like many many people, have been in engrossed in the films with the release of the Prequels and the newer canon in the last two years.  It is just a great world to explore!  The characters are timeless yet approachable.  This past year I ramped up my geek cred by reading a couple of the Star Wars novels (Dark Disciple & Bloodline).  I was reminded how great the storytelling of the first films that caught my attention as a kid some 40 years ago!

So here is my ranking of my Favorite Star Wars Films:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (V) – This film is just about perfect.  It transforms the story that we thought we knew so well in A New Hope (IV), and puts it on its ear.  It has more action and suspense that we felt when the Death Star blew up for the first or second time!
  2. The Force Awakens (VII) – I know. It was just “A New Hope remake.”  I don’t care, and I don’t totally agree. It was a party on a roller coaster and I loved every moment of it.  Ok…I didn’t love every moment.  I almost cried when I realized that HE was going to die.  But Rey, Finn, and Poe!  It was just fantastic.
  3. A New Hope (IV) – The film that started it all.  I’m not going to try and argue about when Lucas wrote what, but this IS the beginning of the story and it does it marvelously.
  4. Return of the Jedi (VI) – As a kid, this film was the best!  As I have rewatched it I am still moved but some of the campy-er moments rob it of the film it could have been.  It was a fitting ending both when we thought it was THE ending and now that the story has continued.  This might have edged out Rogue One because of the happy ending, I can admit that.
  5. Rogue One – I have wrestled with this film.  I was able to watch it twice in the theaters, so I have been able to see it from both a “wow, first time!” and an “um…do I really like that” perspective.  And I think I do really like it.  So much that it could be #3 on this list.  I wish they had done more to develop some of the characters and gotten rid of that mind reading monster (what was that about!?!).  It was a long movie running at 2 hours and 13 minutes.  But couldn’t they have added 5-10 minutes and let me care more about Jyn and Cassian?  I wish they had.  It was sad watching the ending unfold, but I didn’t feel like it was sad enough if that makes any sense.
  6. Mandatory Space for the gap that is between #5 and #6
  7. Revenge of the Sith (III) – We have gone from greatness to good.  I’m sorry to say that Anakin is unbearable.  I’m not trying to specific blame to the actor or the writers, but someone blew it.  It is just painful to watch…and this is the “good” one of the Prequels.  Of the Prequels this was not a return, but at least facing the right direction of action and adventure that we once believed about the Star Wars universe.   Having rewatched these in the Fall, I was reminded how great Ewan McGregor did as Obi-Wan, he really salvaged the films.
  8. The Phantom Menace (I) – We had hopes, but then Jar-Jar.  It was just Jar-Jar.  It was all of the parts of the Galaxy that we didn’t know that we didn’t care about.  It happened. Forgive and forget.
  9. Attack of the Clones (II) – As I mentioned I watched the films again in the fall in preparation for Rogue One release.  I had to force myself to finish this movie.  It is just so, so, bad.  Anakin is at his worst.  It literally feels like it belongs to a different movie franchise.  It is closer to Fifth Element than it is a Star Wars film…an no. That isn’t a compliment.

Thanks for reading.  Do you agree?  I would love to hear!

Fountain Pen Ink – J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche

When I got my first TWSBI Eco (Extra Fine) I decided that I needed to have a real bottle of ink to have a real experience of “fountain penning.”  After looking around JetPens for a while, I settled on the J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche.  It wasn’t because I loved the color. The truth is it was because I didn’t want to spend $10+ on an ink that I would probably never finish using!  I’m a little bit of cheapskate.  I settled on the smaller bottle and got to writing.

On the website the color didn’t blow me away, but it had a fast drying time which is my top priority as a lefty writer.  I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the color.  It isn’t washed out like the swab on the JetPen’s website led me to believe.  It is a solid and consistent turquoise blue.  It handles great on my go-to notebook (Muji Notebook) and on copy paper without much feathering or show-through on the other side of the page.  Here is a great review from Matt at the PenHabit.  He is extremely thorough and gives you tons of visual samples of the ink on paper.  If you are looking for a solid ink that is economic and will work on just about any paper I can’t say enough good things about the Bleu Pervenche.

Fountain Pen Ink – Diamine Orange

Let me begin by saying that my habit for pens has gotten worse.  After listening to and dabbing in some cheaper fountain pens, I took the plunge into the lower end the fountain pen world.  Specifically, I got couple of TWSBI Ecos (Extra Fine) and a Lamy Safari (Fine).  I’m a lefty and primarily use a “Side-writer” position for writing.  So I am prone to smearing and smudging naturally.  Almost all of my writing is done in my Muji Notebook which is my everyday carry and cheap copy paper.  The Muji Notebook is a recycled paper so I’m sure that has some bearing on my results with various pens and inks.

Awesome color…terrible drying time.

I recently got some new ink samples from Goulet Pens to see what fit my writing style and fancy.  So I’m going to take some time and let you know what I have thought about those inks.  I’m not a professional anything and surely not a professional ink reviewer.  I recommend Matt at Inkdependence if you want great reviews.  But I’ll sure what I experience.

First up is Diamine Orange.  What a great shade of orange and what a mess when it comes to drying time!  I recently inked up my Twsbi Eco Extra Fine and was stoked to see how this orange ink looked.  I was immediately impressed.  It is a great shade of “orangey” orange.  But using it has proved to be disappointing.  My disappointment is all about the drying time.  Jetpen’s great post on Fast Drying Fountain Pen Inks warned me about their slow drying time, but I tried it anyway and got results that corroborated their evidence.  It handles the paper well, no feathering that I can see, but it drys slowly (10-15 seconds) which is a deal breaker for me.  Here is the best qualified review I have found for it so maybe that will help you if you are thinking about it.