Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

25 June 2013

What's Next?

Jerry Seinfeld's ingenious new internet series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is an absolutely delightful voyeuristic peep into the experience of two funny people legitimately dialoguing about the intricacies of life... while trying to make each other laugh.  This past week Jerry took another favorite of mine, David Letterman, out for coffee and they had this thought-provoking exchange.

Letterman begins talking about the relatively insignificant ongoing of his son scraping his hand. Dave's dilemma is about whether to send him to baseball practice or not. He and asks Seinfeld, "what do you do this situation?" Seinfeld says, "I support any position my wife takes."

Dave: Because she knows more about parenting than you do?
Jerry: Here's the answer, it doesn't matter what you do, but why have a fight with your wife?
Dave: (laughs) But here's the worst part, and maybe you don't experience this since you mentioned that you don't care, (laughter) is that you feel guilty about your own behavior
Jerry: I kind of look at my family now and I think, in 60 years everyone's dead here.
Dave: (mortified) "Can I have the cheque?  Good Lord!"
Jerry: I just don't like this overconcideration of every decision

It's OBVIOUSLY all in jest (and this is fascinating coming from the man who created the entire "show about nothing" genre and is the Godfather of observational "have you ever noticed" humor) ... but there is something very important about what Seinfeld says here. As life progresses and you grow up, you are given MORE decisions to make.  Decisions that WILL effect you and your family too. But developing the skill of quickly assessing all angles, discerning what's MOST right, making a decision... and moving on to "What's Next" becomes a necessity.

Endless bemoaning, second guessing and "what ifing" about insignificant minutia, actually steals life from us because SOMETHING is next and needs your full attention too.  I'm lucky enough to sit on numerous leadership teams, boards, task forces and the like that can take a defined period of allotted time, quickly make pro/con cases... quickly devise scenarios, quickly eliminate them... and quickly make decisions. It's a pleasure to be a part of machines like this in action. I've also been a part of ones that... didn't.  It was worse.

Sometimes I feel like President Bartlet from the West Wing.  Throughout the series, it depicted the Commander in Chief facing dilemma after dilemma.  Moral, ethical, political, social, economical, international, domestic, fatherly and marital dilemmas.  One after another.  Each one needing a YES, NO or TABLE IT, with the looming specter of the next dilemma chomping at the bit.  After he'd make a decision... he'd punctuate it with "What's Next?"


Done. Peace for a split second. Clear head. Next task.

Sometime I wonder if our "busyness" in life and overall societal exasperation is because we put too much emotion and self into each decision. Seinfeld is right.  Moments after that decision about baseball practice its is forgotten by Dave's boy Harry.  But if Dave hangs onto it...it's destructive. We simply cannot put disproportionate value on small things... through WORRY. When we WORRY... we put the result of decisions on us. Owning our decisions is admirable. We need to be responsible.   But...

... in 1 Corinthians  2:16 we're enlighted to this marvelous process where:

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ." 

Well shut the front door.

We're able to HAVE the MIND of Christ.  We need to be able to find that mind quickly and then not over-inflate our ego by continuing to stress about the results of decisions.  The results of obedience belong to God. Taking bits of pieces out of Matthew 6: 25-34, Jesus gives us something beautiful to rest in:

 I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?..... Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things..... But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Get the mind of Christ.  Decide.  What's Next.

 Baseball practice or world impact, as a grownup there IS going to a NEXT that requires our attention.... right away.  And YES it CAN be stressful.  Yes it even takes a toll. Just watch how gray American presidents go during their term.  But I desire to be a "What's Next" decision maker that God can trust to make the right decisions for the purpose of seeing HIS Kingdom coming.



11 June 2013

Why I walk in heels and put Mike Krukow stickers on my head

 On June 22nd for the 3rd year, I will be walking in high heels with other men in my community to stand in solidarity against domestic violence.  This year my son Jared (who is known around town as Kid Kindness) is joining his father.  And I am INCREDIBLY proud of him for AGAIN being an example of transformational GOOD.  Our goal is to raise $1000 dollars this year, and at the time of writing this, we're 70% there.  



Let me tell you why I do this.  

I'm a big fan of societal absurdities.  I have ALWAYS loved doing things that are socially askew as if they were normal and watching peoples reactions.  We're such intense creatures of habit! 

When I was a kid... Hostess Potato Chips produced a series of MLB Baseball stickers that they'd put inside their bags. When we'd take short breaks during our Brier Park never-ending summer tennis-court baseball experience, we'd got to Macs Milk to get Frosters and collect these stickers. 

Mike Krukow used to fascinate me for some reason.  On the back of his 1986 Topps baseball card (the ones with the wooden frame) they informed baseball geeks like me that he was nicknamed "The Polish Prince."  It always struck me as funny.  For no good reason.  I'm just... like that. 

So when I would go into the store, one summer I always wore this Mike Krukow sticker on my forehead.  I wouldn't speak of it and pretended as if everything was normal.  It brought me GREAT delight.  In fact seeing the sticker STILL does.  

The same is true when I look at pictures of my daughters putting makeup on my ugly mug... because people donated extra to Nova Vita to see it happen.  It's an organization that cares front-line for those who are the victims of domestic abuse.  I dig Men in Heels not only because it's an important issue and a worthy cause... but because even the fundraising gimmick (in part) IS a portion of the answer.  Men standing UP, and standing OUT makes other people stop to take a look at the societal absurdity and consider standing up too.

If you're a leader and you're not willing to make a jackass of yourself and dance the monkey dance for other people's freedom every now and again, you're probably not leading very well.
   

Today is a beautiful day in Brantford. Today everyone woke up with a fresh start. We all wake up equal with the hope that today can be a great day. Then external factors kick in that try to set us back. To some, going to school hungry is the issue. That’s an issue with a visible solution... and we SHOULD do something about it. And good people (including our One Church Network) are rising up to say "Not in My City."

But to some... they wake up in feeling trapped with no hope. They have no “I’m OK here” place to come home to, and it feels hopeless because domestic abuse is private. It comes with a great heaviness, burden and feeling like there isn’t anyone that can see inside their lives and walls that have now left them trapped.  


And... NOT IN MY CITY.

 A friend once asked me, "Isn't there a better way to support the end of domestic violence than to parade a bunch of men around in heels? David, nobody wants to see a guy like me in heels."  

And he was right... I don't.  But it WOULD make me stop because something was askew enough to ask questions. There is a better way. It's to have more people include zero domestic abuse tolerance in their own lives, their families lives and their neighbors lives.

Why does Men in Heels mean something? Because we are publicly giving notice as the strong and bold Brantford men in this city that we are making this an issue. Ladies in the city of Brantford who are feeling trapped and are loosing hope... PEOPLE IN THIS CITY CARE. You are not trapped. You are not alone. There is help and there is hope. 

Please give HERE today

10 June 2013

Our weekend at Ontario Pioneer Camp


"The more we get together the happier we'll be"
Raffi

Allan Sherman won a Grammy for "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" in 1964 and put a pop-culture face on the boy who didn't like camp at first but grew to love it over the course of the week.  It's happened at camps across our continent time and time again, summer after summer, from that day till this. Or so I was told.

This weekend, Ontario Pioneer Camp invited The Carrol's to come and experience everything their northern summer oasis had in their fun-times arsenal.  Little did they know, that they were inviting someone who (as I blogged about before the trip) as a boy purposely tried to injure himself to avoid the summer camp experience altogether. So I was FAR from a ringer.

I heard stories over and over all weekend from their INCREDIBLE staff of young, passionate people about how much they loved camp when they were kids.  In fact 70% of the kids who go to OPC... come back.  And their counselors, for the VAST majority, are former campers whose lives were impacted and now SERVE others out of LOVE.  Love of what?   Well when you look at the Twitter account of the director of Outdoor Education Retreats at Ontario Pioneer Camp Andrew Hall... it says what the love is about.


Jesus.  Family.  Outdoors.  I believe this about the people at OPC.

This was a "Bloggers Weekend."  I have never been invited to something like this.  My task was to play on my ipod so I could InstagramTweet and Facebook my way through this family adventure and then summarize my thoughts in this blog. I was with a great group of "Mommy Bloggers" and became the token "Daddy Blogger" for the weekend. I've been called worse!  I started Big Ear Creations to keep in contact with those I wished to Pastor in Brantford while working in Hamilton during the formative years of planting Freedom House so blogging was never "THE thing" for me.  But by God's grace... it's BECOME " A thing."

So let me tell you my thoughts in two ways.

  1. What we did.... and what you'll experience when you go to OPC.
  2. My "Dave" internal thoughts

First...These folks worked hard to care for us this weekend.  You could tell.  Everything from gift certificates to the famous Webers burgers on the way up Highway 11, to a room full of swag.   They didn't NEED to... but they DID. But that's what I experienced over and over.  People SERVING others, not because they HAD to... but because they WANTED to.

The facilities at OPC are top top notch.  We did everything from rock walls, to low ropes for younger kids like mine, to canoeing and vball, to the ole standard of archery!  It was GREAT.  All of it.   And it wasn't surprising that it was great. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (who runs OPC) is a top notch organization that I respect and has a heart to disciple kids.

And let me say this on the way through.  This weekend was a BLESSING for a guy who has found nearly every hour scheduled for 2-3 weeks in advance.  It's not a good thing.  It's wearing.  And this weekend was a LIFE breather.  It was GOD flat out. 

But let me tell you about my SECOND line of thought... because the GOOD goes a little deeper.

I tweeted this on Saturday morning while I began to feel my "self" who isn't a big PERSONAL fan of "campy" type activities creep up into my morning.




TOGETHER... HAS been the struggle since the garden.  Because we are MEANT to be together, sharing, and taking care of one another.  But sin interrupted this.   It divided and separated man from God... and thus created the tasty temptation for DIVIDE between God's people until this very day.  And the only way to combat it, is to "take captive of every thought and make it obedient to Christ" INTENTIONALLY.

What they are attempting to do (and succeeding at)  is bringing separate people together.  I overheard one of the young mom's on staff say this over breakfast, attempting to serve others while her two young rambuntios boys were running around...


She was right.  It does.

I didn't like camp growing up.  And if I'm honest... playing capture the flag, singing goofy songs and doing challenges is STILL a little cringe-worthy to me.  Then it occurred to me, in the same way that so many things have occurred to me as a Christian adult who is called to lead.  If this has never occurred to you... write this down:


IT'S NOT ABOUT ME

As I listened to camp counselors talk about kids who have solidified their walk with Jesus, found lifelong friendships and even discovered freedom and respite for the first time at OPC... I said to myself, "I WANT THAT for my kids!"  And (revelation coming) my Mom wanted that for hers to.

I want the best for my kids JUST LIKE how my Mom wanted the best for hers.  But we likely both assumed we knew, or thought, or hoped, that WE also knew the best way to make that happen. But...

IT'S NOT ABOUT ME 

It's about others.  Life is ALWAYS about others. And my kids... LOVED Ontario Pioneer Camp. I'll tell you why.  It was the people there.  I work days in advertising/marketing and I'm always looking for the USP (unique selling proposition) for my clients. For OPC, the UPC is the people who are giving of their lives for the prosperity of others.  See...

IT'S NOT ABOUT ME. 

And they GET that. My youngest daughter Brianna (6) took a specific liking to a young leader who called himself "Jose."  It was his camp name.  Yet another "camp thing" I didn't know about. And I hate nicknames.  I feel ridiculous using nicknames.  But he's a GREAT GUY with a real life passion for Jesus and young people.  Brianna loved him and...

IT'S NOT ABOUT ME

I asked Brianna tonight why she loved "Jose."  She said (and I quote)

"Because I beat his butt!"
Brianna Carrol


He allowed a 6 year old girl to beat him at a camp games MULTIPLE times.   Why?  Because...

IT'S NOT ABOUT ME

She found a guy who she knew loved the same Jesus that she does.   She found out that he valued her enough to play games with her, because of his selfless actions and it affirmed her.  She came home FULL.  As a parent... this is what I want my kids to experience as many times as they can.

I am pleased give Ontario Pioneer Camp a 'big up' and I hope that God makes a way to offer this experience to my kids next summer... and (since I'm sure the staff will read this) if you need speakers, I'd love to come share the Captain Kindness story one day!

The more we get together the happier we'll be.

5 June 2013

The Carrol's are headed to camp

This weekend, I will be packing up our Toyota Sienna and taking my family north to Ontario Pioneer Camp in Huntsville. I'll blog about the experience here on Big Ear (as this is a weekend will be filled with a number of other Christian bloggers with young kids) along with sharing on my Facebook, Twitter (#pioneercamp is the hashtag for the weekend) and  Instagram. You should follow me!   

 There is a great excitement around the homestead while I personally reflect on the great irony it is for me. Truth be told...growing up I didn't like camp.  I disliked the idea of going away to camp SO MUCH that I actually used to jump off my roof, for funsies, hoping to twist my ankle to get get me out of it.  I know, I know. I'm a sad sad human. Eventually my parents relented and just let me play baseball all summer... which was my goal!  I wasn't much of a "participator."  See I was a Gen Xer in full force.  Thankfully, I'm now an older, more balanced Gen Xer!

My kids on the other hand... are SCREAMIN' participators and simply CANNOT wait to climb rock walls, do ropes course, jump in lakes and worship around a campfire.  My wife found Jesus at a Christian camp.  It was her refuge, it housed her support system, and even eventually employed her in the summers.  She KNOWS what a camp can mean to a kid.

Bruce Mann Director of Inter-Varsity Camping Ministry, who is on our leadership team at Freedom House, says this about those who run their many camps like OPC:

"These well-trained, skilled and friendly young adults are passionate about showing children that they are loved and accepted. They love welcoming campers back year after year and watching them discover that God has an extraordinary destiny for each one of them." 

As a parent who is looking for ways to open as many doors to my kids spiritual (and physical/emotional) prosperity as I can... that's a pretty incredible thing to find.  In fact, the head of our Freedom House Marked Generation Young Adult Ministry Amanda Myles will be leading worship this summer at OPC! 

So I'm excited to spend a weekend with my family, trying new things, and growing closer together.  We all feel like it's an adventure ahead and I'm thankful that Ontario Pioneer Camp has included The Carrol's in their blogging family T-Up weekend! 












June 22nd I will be walking in red high heels to support ending violence against women and girls. AND MY SON JARED WILL BE JOINING ME! Will you "stand in the gap" with us against domestic violence? Supporting Nova Vita makes a real difference in real lives and makes you a SUPERHERO! Click the pic of me in a dress to give! Jared and I thank you so much!

 

1 June 2013

"Harlings," Sons and the need for Fathers

Since the fall, I've been extending my education at Freedom House's newly birthed school of ministry that we're calling the Freedom Training Centre.  In another year or so, I hope to be a Revered. The name and title don't really mean that much to me, but I'd like to be able to marry and bury people. It's such an amazing way to bless, encourage and impact families during a pivotal moment.

As we're just beginning this new endeavor, we've been using the ISOM (International School of Ministry) video teaching curriculum which, while quite a number of years old now, features great teaching by a wide variety of ministers.

The session that has stuck out the most to me over this whole year was taught by Larry Stockstill about the importance of raising up "sons" in your ministry.  Paul referenced Timothy in Philippians 2 this way:

"But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel"  
  
Paul "raised" Timothy in his ministry.  Timothy KNEW the heart and ways of God... through this man of God's fathering ministry to him WHILE Paul was doing other important stuff too.  Thus, Timothy had stake in continuing on the ministry that Paul started, actually cared about the continuation of work, valued the culture of his vision and worked towards the dream's prosperity.  It's how Jesus did things and its good teaching.

Showing the contrast, Stockstill referenced "Harlings".   Larry has a bit of a southern drawl so I had to quickly Google "harling" so I could appear spiritual during the discussion.  But what he meant was HIRELING.

The teaching and word came from the NKJ of John 10 where Jesus taught:

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep"

 There is a MASSIVE difference in commitment, care and charge between someone whose real heart it is for a home to succeed... and someone who is simply parachuted in, stopping by as company, or becomes a hired gun to do a job before blowing out of town.  Why do you think job listings are usually internal before external?  Because those INSIDE already know the culture and have demonstrated care for the "clients." There is no doubt which way I want to see anything I start grow and it's how Freedom Training Centre will function in relation to Freedom House.

You can find the whole teaching in chart form here linked HERE (and it's very much worth reading)  but this whole thing has got me thinking about optimal ministry structures... and FATHERHOOD.  Optimal ministry structures are easy and fun for me to think about. Because it's thinkin'.  But fatherhood is tougher... because it requires my heart.

It's one thing to idyllically say, "Yes... I'll just father someone into xyz role," but that requires ME to FATHER.  I HAVE three kids already I start thinking.  Three kids that I ALREADY I struggle to preserve time for from our earthly, time-sucking vortex.  Then my excuses get worse.  I start thinking about the last time I tried... really tried... to father a young man into ministry.  He started, then turtled.  It usurped the optimal ministry capacity in about 6 different directions.  And it personally hurt.

So in life, too often, when things are hard... we create sub-standard easy solutions.  Like arms-length hireling scenarios where we jettison someone into a role.  And it's not THE BEST.  And its not fair for ANYONE involved.  It's also possibly, dangerously, anti-Biblical.  When people begin to lead a mission of "sharing God's love" without a "fathers heart" for the people... it's at best simply what people find in the world, and at worst something that can cut others off from participating fully in the beautiful thing you're trying to share.

Paul... wrote this to us about the difference between teachers... and fathers in 1 Cor 4:

I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me. That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go

So these days God is challenging me, and giving me the opportunity, to be a FATHER.  To be a father to my 3 kids.  To be a father to those he's bringing into my life who NEED a Dad. And to be a Father to "sons and daughters in the ministry" who I pray will grow up in our house, care for our family, and will use the GREAT gifts in them to further God's dream for our city. 

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