Category Archives: Props: Positives and Praise

Celebrating the good fathers

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, in short due to busyness at work and enjoying my 7 month-old son.  I used to spend time writing a post and proofreading and editing it too much, and I’ve got a folder of ideas that I procrastinate getting to.  Then there’s the stat sheet, which can either excite you or drain your enthusiasm.  My friend Teri on her blog Grits and Bottle Rockets recently posted an inspiration to just get writing.  Just do it, just write.  There’s nothing to proofread or edit if you don’t start somewhere.

So I’ve decided to try and just write when I get the inspiration and knock it out.  And normally I try to write random ideas not associated with any holiday or current event, but this one’s a coincidence with Father’s Day coming up soon.

Baby stroller - this is how i roll

Recently I was out walking my son in the stroller around my neighborhood.  I saw 3 other dad’s hanging out with their kids either playing on the porch or walking with strollers, too.  The thought struck me how great it is to see so many fathers spending time with their kids.  While there are some bad or absent fathers out there, in general fathers often get a bad rap.  Look no further than your television:  whether in scripted shows or even the commercials where usually the man is a bumbling idiot with no clue and the wife/mother looks on and shakes her head at her stupid oaf of a husband.

I thought it’d be nice to acknowledge and celebrate when we do see good examples of fathers who are spending time with their kids, being good mentors and showing them love and care.  There are more stay-at-home dads these days that do a fantastic job.  There are dads who aren’t afraid to change a diaper or get up and comfort a crying baby back to sleep at 4am.  There are dads who help out around the house and bring relief to tired mommies.  When you see any children’s sports team, you’ll no doubt see fathers who volunteer to coach.  They leave work early to teach fundamentals and wipe snotty noses.  When you drop your kids off at their classes at church, you will find more and more men volunteering to work with children.

Men grow up in competition mode all the time, taught not to show emotion or weakness and are constantly having to prove their masculinity.  When a man becomes a father, you see him no longer care about himself but put his family first.  A good father would sacrifice himself, would embarrass himself in public, attend a tea party or wear a ridiculous costume to make their kids happy.  A father will display failed craft projects and wear horrid clothing items if purchased for him by his children.  There are all sorts of reasons to be thankful for your father, and I invite you to share yours in the comments.

I am blessed to have grown up with a great dad, and had prep from my brothers and friends with kids to learn by their example and advice.  Who would you like to acknowledge?  If not your own father or a father figure in your life, do you know any dads who are a great example and deserve some thanks and recognition?


Props: Faithful Volunteers

If you’ve been around a church for any amount of time, you’ve heard the phrase “20% of the people do 80% of the work” and you also know that it’s probably true.  We’ve all sat in a service or two where an announcement is made for volunteers, particularly for working with children or parking attendants.  There was a time at my home church in Pennsylvania when they had a hard time finding someone to teach a particular children’s class on Wednesday nights.  Each week during the adult Bible study in the sanctuary, Pastor Joe would announce the need but there were no takers.  Finally, one Wednesday night he ended the adult Bible study by saying “Since no one has stepped up, I’m going to go into that classroom next Wednesday night and every week after that until someone else volunteers.  I don’t know what you all are gonna do in here, but I’m gonna be taking care of those kids.”  He walked down the aisle and out the door.

The following Wednesday, Pastor Joe was back in the adult Bible study again:  two people suddenly volunteered to take turns teaching the children’s class.  Imagine that.

But there are those rare volunteers that are dedicated and faithful and don’t need threats to sign up.  They show up on time and take on probably too much.  They have a positive attitude and are always willing to fill an area of need.  They serve without seeking recognition, whether in the nursery or parking lot.  There are volunteers who work a full-time job and show up on nights and weekends because they love to serve.  Just about every church has that special group of volunteers that without them, you can’t imagine running your church and keeping your sanity.  These servants are the kind who take the ideas of a pastor or leader at 2am on Saturday night and make it happen on Sunday morning.  There are those that brave bad weather to get to church and make sure things are ready.

You hear great stories about ministries that are focused on children, the homeless and under privileged.  Churches that evangelize their town, provide help and assistance to those in need, and programs that provide counseling, support and resources.  All that doesn’t happen without volunteers taking on responsibility and doing the often thankless jobs.

The “Props” series is all about recognizing that despite its faults, the Church has a lot that is praise worthy.  So here’s to the volunteers that aren’t on stage, aren’t in visible roles and aren’t thanked often enough yet keep plugging away.

For my next post, I’ll discuss some practical ways to identify and recruit volunteers and keep them happy.  Please leave comments here and give a shout out to the great volunteers that make your church or ministry possible.

Props: Genuine Friendships

“What about your friends will they stand their ground
Will they let you down yeah, yeah
What about your friends are they gonna be low down
Will they ever be around or will they turn their backs on you”

I love the movie “I Love You, Man” where Paul Rudd’s character has to find a man to become his friend and Best Man at his wedding.  His character mentions how it comes natural to seek out a girlfriend, but to find a male friend is difficult.  I didn’t have many friends growing up.  I was teased and bullied in elementary school, and in high school I never really fit in and was never invited to hang out.  More than a couple times, I was severely let down and betrayed by people I thought were my friends.  When I became a Christian, I finally meet some genuine friends, some of whom have been life long friends.  

While people in the Church are of course human and flawed like anyone, I have met some amazing people in the family of God.  Friends and mentors who were there to listen and not judge me, to allow me room to grow in my newfound spiritual life and to be encouraging even when I stumbled.  In the Church, you will find people that will listen, pray for you, and be there when you need them.  The Church takes a lot of criticism –including from the inside–but we can’t ignore the powerful and life-changing relationships developed in healthy church community.

It’s very difficult these days to find solid friends.  I know many people who feel the same way.  We are good at being social, at having a lot of Christian acquaintances, but close fellowship is not easy to come by.  I’ve been fortunate to find some great friends over the years, despite the times that friendships haven’t really developed.  I encourage you to look around, keep your heart and life open to the people around you, and to strive to be loving and encouraging to others.  I’ve always heard that the best way to make a good friend is to be a good one.  If we open up, reach out, and show others that we’re there for them to be a solid friend, we will start to see it reciprocated by the right people.

What does genuine friendship mean?  It means we don’t size people up and judge them based on externals.  I have a difficult time with this, because I’ll often judge people at first meeting them and think I won’t have much in common with them.  If I give them a chance, I can find out there’s more to them and we can find ways to connect.  Genuine friendship means picking up the phone at midnight and talking a friend through a struggle.  It means praying with someone on the spot, or helping be a distraction from a stressful day.  Genuine friendships are the kind where you don’t have to wonder IF you’re going to hang out with that person this week, but it’s just a matter of what you’ll be doing together.

Genuine friends don’t leave you out or make you feel unwelcome.  They get beyond the surface and learn to appreciate who you are, and encourage you in your goals and dreams.  They hold you accountable in your spiritual life, and knowing them improves your walk with God.  “As iron sharpens iron…”

I am truly thankful to God for bringing so many great friends into my life over the years.  Why don’t you take time this week to reach out to the people in your life who are loyal and always there for you, and drop them a thank you note and show them you appreciate them?

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

-Colossians 3:12-15

Props: The Steadfast Pastor

There are a lot of great things about being a part of a church community.  As we look in the mirror, we should strive to see more encouragement and praise toward each other, to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  (Hebrews 10:24).  So I’m beginning a series of posts under the catagory “Props: Positives and Praise.”  You can click on the “Props” catagory on the right to see all posts in this series.

We’ve talked about the Celebrity Pastors, and the type that have dollar signs in their eyes and visions of mega churches dancing in their heads.  But I want to praise the pastor who is faithful and steadfast, humble and dedicated regardless of the size of the church’s building, attendance or budget.

We’ve witnessed pastors that exhibit strong leadership and preach sermons that have had great impact.  They spend hours each week in study and prayer, to hear from the Holy Spirit what they should preach, and to make sure they are being true to the text.  Those that spend time with people mentoring them and developing their leadership potential.  The Steadfast Pastor is there for counseling, listening, and offering prayer and advice.  He or she will cast vision, lead meetings and be looked upon to exhibit leadership principles, business savvy and balance a budget.  Today’s pastor is required to be a master of all trades:  Pastor, Shepherd, CEO, Teacher, Manager, Counselor, Evangelist, and more.

Many of them doing all this while working a second job either full or part-time to pay the bills, and balancing their own family life.  (Pastors reading this are thinking, “Wait, I can have my own life outside the church?”  LOL)

This Sunday, why don’t you take a moment to thank your pastor with a handshake and a kind word?  Send an email or Facebook post to someone on the staff to let them know you appreciate them.  Or go the old fashioned route and send a card in the mail.  It will make your pastor’s day.

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