Chapters of Life

Reality.

Sometimes it hits you.

After 5 years, my time with TeenPact Leadership School has come to a close.

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If you look back on your life you can identify different turning points that changed things profoundly for you even if they didn’t seem so significant in the moment. When I packed up for a week of government class in 2010 with some friends I never thought that things could change so much.

TeenPact, as I’ve written before is an organization that does a number of things. The 2014 season is the 20th year that TeenPact has been in existence, a ministry that formed in Georgia in 1994 after a prayer meeting in the basement of the capitol building. Over the years, the ministry has expanded to serving thousands of individuals in 40 states- their mission is this:

Our mission is to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberty, defend the christian faith and engage the culture at a time in their lives when, typically, they do not care about such things.

Just a week ago, I returned from Alaska where I had spent 11 days with the Alaska State TeenPact Class. This was a phenomenal experience with which to finish my time with TeenPact. The scenery was beautiful. This is Lake Eagle and Lake Symphony in Chugach State Park near Eagle River Alaska- this shot was 6.3 miles from the trailhead- totally worth the hike.

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The new friendships I made were great, and the old friendships I had already were strengthened. Danny Sullivan our Program Director for the week and myself.

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We had some fun extracurricular activities too (hiking, climbing, flying, sledding, picture taking, etc)

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But all good things must come to an end. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had with TeenPact but the week had to come to a close.

The Alaska state class was the final class to finish the 20th season of the TeenPact state classes

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TeenPact has taught me many things and I’ve changed immensely since 2010 when I was first involved.

One big thing that I’ve taken with me through time with TeenPact is a mindset of not losing opportunities.

With the fast-paced nature of a TeenPact class there are rare times that are not jammed with activity in the 4 day class. With a spiritual focus that overarches the entire week, one must as Ephesians 5:16 says:

making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

As we go through our time, whether at an event or simply living our everyday lives we need to be entirely aware of the opportunities that are passing by each of us. We can choose to take them or to let them slide. In a situation like TeenPact, the time is short and urgency helps to spur one on to action.

Yet so many times we blaze through time, a week, a day, an hour without capitalizing on the opportunities that were presented to us. This is something that pricks me, the value of time.

Our time is precious, and we dare not waste it on things that are outside our scope of purpose in life. This doesn’t mean that we never waste time, just that we must be aware of the fact that we have limited opportunity to make a difference.

This is not a Carpe Diem motivational post though, don’t seize opportunity for opportunity’s sake. Evaluate the chances based on your foundation, mine is the Bible, and take the path of the most impact for the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, while being bummed that my time with TeenPact as a traveling staff member is completed. I know that I took the opportunity to pour into those that were around me. Hopefully pointing others back to Christ.

I urge you to take your opportunities.

P.S.

For those of you perhaps wondering what’s next for me, I am continuing my college studies with CollegePlus! and getting more excited by the day to invest part of my summer with Summit Ministries as a summer staff member. I’ll be out there from July 16-August 30th. If you haven’t yet, familiarize yourself with this ministry- their work is absolutely phenomenal.

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Ever been Out of Control? (it’s OK)

Sometimes it’s a good thing.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand

Proverbs 19:21

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Out of Control. “No longer possible to manage”

Uncontrollable. “Wild, Unruly, Defiant”

These concepts have so many bad understandings. If someone is out of control in business or uncontrollable in regards to their recreation it is definitely not a good situation.

Control is an interesting term. It can mean being totally in charge. It can mean having sway behind the scenes. Control usually has a connotation of being direct, as in mastery or dominance. Influence can be somewhat like control, but generally the understanding is different. Leadership is in the same genre of words, but is not so unyielding.

So does that mean that being “Out of Control” is always bad?

No.

I had the chance to spend this past week with TeenPact Leadership Schools staffing the Kentucky state class. There were a number of things that were out of my control. While it first seemed that I needed to work my way back into a position of being in control I came to realize that my God IS in control and that His plans are much higher than my plans.

I have a number of stories that I’d love to share about how things were out of my direct control this past week, I’d like to tell you personally instead of on the blog though. So come ask! But what I will say is I realized it wasn’t my place to decide how the spiritual ministry was going to go. It also became apparent that even when the unexpected happens, things can turn out better than I thought possible. New relationships can form and be strengthened so quickly.

God was in control.

One of the phenomenal young men that I had a chance to staff with this past week was Austin Clapper. He and I were talking on Thursday night about how God gives us words to say. Austin said that while he doesn’t always think that he has the most eloquent conversation (I can relate, growing up on the farm) he knows that God provides those opportunities that we are most suited to fulfill. He lived Ephesians 2:20 this week, seeking out those good works that God had prepared in advance for him to do. Austin became a great friend of mine this week because neither of us were in control of the program.2014-04-04 17.42.45

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel at multiple times that I would rather have been in control.

  • I wanted to be in control of appliances that didn’t work correctly.
  • I wanted to be in control of the health of all our team members.
  • I wanted to be in control of what I gained from the week.
  • I wanted to be in control of the opportunities that I was given.

But looking back, I realize that while not everything went perfectly, not everyone stayed 100% healthy, not all my questions were answered, and most importantly I did not expect the opportunities that I was given…. that God’s plan was far, far better.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

Ephesians 3:20-21

My question for you is this:

Are you holding onto control when God could do better?

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A Study in Legacy Driven Leadership: TeenPact Leadership Schools

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Over the past few years, I have had a chance to be involved with an outstanding ministry called TeenPact Leadership Schools. Going for the first time as a student in 2010, I fell in love with the mission of TeenPact:

Our mission is to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberties, defend the Christian faith, and engage the culture at a time in their lives when, typically, they do not care about such things. 

As a student in 2010 I became aware that there were other people in my age group who were interested in having an impact in the world. Over the past four years to today, I have consistently learned more about the ministry and the true message of growth that they offer. TeenPact students come into a week ready to learn about the government and get a 100% hands-on program that teaches state government right at the state capitol. From Committee Meetings to mock legislature, to debates, to elections, to discussions on constitutionality, all the way to Christian worldview training and worshipful evening sessions each person has something to love. 

This year at the Michigan TeenPact Class, our class director was Mr Peter Martin, the CEO of TeenPact. He and I got talking about the leadership development model of TeenPact and this is what he had to say. 

When someone looks at TeenPact, they primarily see the leadership as the staff team and the Program Director. However, the leadership development model starts not when one is accepted onto a staff position but on Monday afternoon as a student when a group of 8-12 students elect a chairperson on their committee. Those that step up in debate, those that run for student elections, and those that engage others are the first steps in that Leadership Development model. 

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With this model, those that pour into the ministry are stretched by the opportunities that they create themselves! Leadership development driven by those that choose themselves. 

This model extends to the staff teams as well, as a traveling staff member I volunteer my time a few weeks out of the year to teach on the staff team and facilitate that development process during the class. Spiritual mentorship, professional mentorship, and government teaching are my responsibilities during a week of TeenPact. 

What makes this Ministry unique is an idea called Replacement Driven Leadership. To be a successful staff member your job is to prepare others to take your job. Your success is dependent on how well you pass on your competency to others. This creates a win/win situation in which those that engage are benefitted. 

This concept is one that I have studied before, and read about in the New York Times Best Seller, Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady. They identify Replacement Driven Leadership as Level 4 or legacy driven leadership.

When one is focused on legacy, everyday actions take on a significance that is not present when there is no lasting effect. TeenPact is directly affected by the effectiveness of the previous staff teams. When someone, like myself, is excited about the ministry, I am driven to my personal best in order that others may excel. I teach to those that will take my position in the next year and those that will be in my position next year rise to the occasion. They win by growing in leadership and spiritual capacity, and I win by seeing a ministry I care about change another life like it did mine. 

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The Law of the Vital Few

There are those moments when things come together. When a pursuit is verified by something unrelated.Demille Book Cover

First Event, I just finished reading the Phenomenal book We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident: 12 Natural Laws of Freedom, Progress, and Success by Oliver DeMille. He makes the case in this book that even though most people talk a big game about changing the country and restoring freedom and prosperity to America, they are held back by not understanding the Laws that govern governments!

To truly set up a society where freedom can flourish, there must be a group of people that understand the fundamental natural Laws. The Founding Fathers of America were some of the best read on the classics of free-thinkers over the preceding 2500 years. They made the choice to understand the natural laws.

For those of us that desire to make an impact, this short book is a Must Read!

The Lodge

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Second Event, I spent this past week, January 12-18, in Davis Oklahoma with TeenPact Leadership Schools at their Staff Training Event. There were about 130 youth there that have the opportunity this season to serve with the ministry of TeenPact. If you haven’t had a chance to check out TeenPact, their mission is to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberties, defend the Christian Faith, and engage the culture at a time in their lives when, typically, they do not care about such things. The Christian camaraderie, worship with like-minded believers, deep conversations with others my own age, teaching from those who are rock-solid in their faith, the week was phenomenal. Events like that make me excited because I know there are others of my generation who are willing to be a light for Christ.

In talking with the Founder of TeenPact, Tim Echols, he shared with me his vision of having a group of individuals committed to excellence. Having a sort of brotherhood of those that are willing to hold each other accountable to high standards. To be, as he would put it, “William Wilberforces” of our generation. Wilberforce, of course, is the man who, with a group of others, brought the slave trade to an end in Great Britain. He also set his life towards reforming the terrible standard of living in 1700’s London.

The reason, all these things came together in my mind is because of the Law of the Vital Few, written about by DeMille. Here is an excerpt from the chapter:

We desperately need a certain type of citizen in our modern society, the kind of person who, like the American founding generations, gets out and gets actively involved in addressing the needs of our communities.

This is the true hope of our free nations: people who take initiative on their own without government, spreading philanthropy, building businesses, volunteering and serving, looking around to see what is needed and organizing people to improve our neighborhoods and towns.

I know that there is this sort of culture alive and well with the high-achieving youth of TeenPact, in LIFE leadership communities across the United States, and in pockets here and there. But those of us who understand that if change is to happen it is up to us must make it a priority to be the Vital Few.

From the book,

The American founding generation was led by just such individuals, and a new crop of leaders is desperately needed again in our day.

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If you are reading this, you are capable of being one of these leaders. And now is the time to take action.

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