GUEST POST: Jason Frizzell | Consumerism

*Editor’s Note: Return guest and friend of the Barefoot blog Jason Frizzell shares some thoughts on consumerism and values today.

What do you really value? In different seasons of life I’ve found this question to be both motivating and debilitating. As I’ve stared into the mirror and seen the reflection of how I have invested my time, resources, and abilities, I’ve experienced moments where my values are inspiring and moments where my values humble me because they are different from what I hoped them to be.

Life is a journey, filled with a sequence of highs and lows. Self-discovery is critically important for an individual, his or her family, and his or her broader community. The process of self-discovery begins with uncovering what our values really are.

Values, beliefs, and customs are directly related to tendencies, priorities, and actions. Objectively identifying how we behave will lead us to question why we do what we do. It is the determination of the why behind a particular behavior that leads us to discover what value drives our activity.

The sobering reality is that much of what we say we value actually differs from what our realistic, lived values tend to be. While it’s true that an external environment, perceived limitations, or uncontrollable circumstances contribute to the development of a set of values, personal choice and activity still bring a set of values to life.

Let’s look at the state of the North American church for a moment. Consumerism and democracy have shaped North American faith. As a result, people have a tendency to voice their individual opinions while searching to create (or consume) their own personal spiritual experiences. The resulting factor has been an elevation of personal spiritual development with the resulting diminishing value of a communal experience or expression. The question of, What do I get out of this? becomes more important than, What can we contribute to this?

Knowing what we value will help us redefine a vision for our present reality and our future hope. Values shape who we are and what we do. What do your values say about you?

GUEST POST: Jason Frizzell | Waiting for Grace

*Editor’s Note: Jason Frizzell, who has written for the Barefoot blog before, joins us again today to discuss grace.

My Achilles heel as a leader is being able to see where I need to go very clearly but wanting to leapfrog into the future instead of soaking in the present moment to learn what is needed to live into what I’ve seen.

Sometimes in youth ministry we overemphasize the need to change in the moment, and we undervalue change over the long term. I wonder what value there might be in learning to wait for and extend grace in the midst of an unknown season?

It’s no secret that the North American church is undergoing identity realignment right now. Many leaders are helping push the envelope by inviting us to focus on who we are becoming instead of what we used to be. While a season like this can cause tension and strain, perhaps the invitation to wait for grace during these moments will be the posture that helps usher in the preferred future we so richly desire.

We adapt, we grow, and we change. Every season has a purpose and great value to it. What season of life do you find yourself resting in currently? Are you waiting for grace, or are you circumventing your development as a person by attempting to run ahead and live into your desired future now?

Will we model what it means to wait for grace through God’s timing in change, or will we demand our future inheritance through the veil of entitlement?

Our world knows what entitlement is; maybe it’s time they experience what it means to wait for the grace of God’s timing for change.

GUEST POST: Jason Frizzell | Leadership Culture

*Editor’s Note: Jason Frizzell joins the Barefoot blog today to discuss leadership culture. You can engage him here in the comments, or find more from him on his website.

Over the last fifteen years I’ve had thousands of conversations with people about serving in youth ministry in some form or other, with only hundreds ending up buying into what I was selling. Does this make me a failure?

I don’t believe so. I wonder if the challenge we have in recruiting and retaining leaders is more of a question about the culture of leadership we’ve created than it is about our ability to lead, cast vision, or position people to succeed.

I’m experimenting with three ideas on how to grow a leadership culture in my community.

1. Believe in God’s sovereignty. If I truly believe that God designed all of life to function together for a reason and a purpose, I need to trust that God stitches teams, communities, and contexts together for a purpose as well. The Bible teaches that every part of the body of Christ has a unique function and role to play for the overall well being of the entire organism. We need to believe this truth as leaders. God will provide what we need. Perhaps a shortage of leaders is an invitation to rethink the way we’ve been ministering to people rather than a sign that the community is apathetic toward youth ministry.

2. Reject your personal need for affirmation. Leadership is not about a leader. Leadership is about serving the community to usher people into the presence of their Creator. It’s nice to be told that you bring value to a community or a ministry, but this can’t be our primary emphasis in recruiting people to serve with us. Our need for affirmation cannot be humanly directed. What would it look like for us to rest in knowing that God delights in who God has created us to be?

3. Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Jesus challenged his team of disciples to pray for workers for the plentiful harvest fields. We need to do the same. When was the last time we were driven by desperation to cry out to the Father, asking for what only he can give? Do you have space in your calendar to saturate your community in prayer and ask for others to respond to God’s invitation for their lives?

What would you add to the experiment in creating a culture of leadership?