Tag Archives: Leadership

My name is Stafford, and I’m a workaholic

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So here I am sharing with you my problem; I work too much.

Sure, there are lots of reasons (read: excuses) why I work too much. I could blame my parents who were small business owners for 25 years who taught me a strong work ethic and demonstrated the hard work required to be so. I could blame my experience of being forced to work all the time while in school – a family of (at the time) 4 plus full-time school and the need to earn money required that I work a lot (either on school work or my job). I could even blame my current position in ministry where the mantra sometimes echoes in my head, “the work of the LORD is never done!”

But all those are really just excuses that let me off the hook for being responsible for my own actions.

The truth is, I’m insecure.

I’m worried that a job done to less than perfection is a poor reflection of who I am.

I’m worried that it will reflect poorly on my wife and kids; that they have a husband/father who can’t accomplish much.

I’m worried that unless I knock it out of the park all the time, my job might be in jeopardy so I at least make it look like if something fails, it isn’t my fault, because I have been working so much. (I should also point out that in no way have I ever been made to feel by leadership that my job has ever been in jeopardy)

I worry that if I ever get caught relaxing, it would damage my ministry.

Luckily, I have a loving wife, an understanding leader and a community around me that is able to stop this before it gets out of control and damages my family!

This past weekend, I exercised the discipline of not working and am much better for it! The next few blog posts will follow the theme of being a recovering workaholic, and truths I’ve begun to realize about it’s impact and the lies that damage your family. I am by no means an expert, and my boundaries are still blurry at times, but who knows, perhaps there is something in my journey that you are able to learn from!


What I’m [planning on] Reading in 2013

School is finished for me, and has been for a long time.  With that, it also means that I don’t have to do any mandatory reading anymore.  This is both a blessing and a curse. In college, the thousands of pages of required reading seemed like an insurmountable obstacle of which I could hardly wait to be done with. Now, however, reading that one book I bought a year ago, seems like an equally challenging obstacle. The problem is, it isn’t just one book I bought, but out of a compulsion, it is more like 5-10 books that haven’t been cracked.

Check out these crazy stats from 2007 about adults and how much they read. 25% didn’t read a singe book and the median number of books read by a person in a year was 4.

I am a full believer that the best and brightest in every area of life share a characteristic: they read. Lots.

So, 2013 is the year where I will read a lot. My goal, (as opposed to a ‘resolution’) is to read 2 books a month. Here are some of the books, in no particular order, I am eager to dig into:

What about you? What are you going to do as a parent to grow, learn and get better?

How are we raising our kids?

Here is an interesting read about how we in Western society raise our children.  How are we equipping children to be leaders? Are we willing to let them fail and then coach them through how to do it better? What are your thoughts?

Read the original here

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Saws. The kind you buy at the hardware store to cut wood. That’s what the play-group teacher dumped on the ground for 3- and 4-year-old kids to play with. Knowing that doing this, in the U.S., would result in the teacher being, at minimum, fired and most likely charged with child endangerment, I had visions of emergency room trips and severed limbs dancing through my mind.

Continue reading

What we can learn from Pen State

If you have followed the news at all in the past two weeks, you would have probably seen the very high-profile child abuse case involving Pen State and their football program.  So far, there have been 8 boys come forward with child abuse allegations against Defensive Coordinator, Gerald Sandusky and there have been 21 felony charges against him for abusing 8 boys over a period of 15 years .  While we don’t know for sure, historically wide-spread child abuse cases show that there are probably more victims that have yet to come forward.

Head Coach Joe Paterno allegedly knew about the abuse back in 2002 but did nothing, allowing Sandusky to sexually abuse at least one more boy before the story breaks this year

I am devastated and heartbroken for the victims who were taken advantage of by a person in trust and authority and for the lack of action by those in Pen State who knew about the abuse and never reported it.  After this story has risen into the limelight, the board of directors at Pen State have fired their President Graham Spanier and their legendary head coach, Joe Paterno for their failure to report the abuse that they knew was happening.

What can the church learn from the tragedy at Pen State?

  1. We must continue to be vigilant with screening children’s workers – Sandusky had all the appearances of being trustworthy; he even founded a non-profit organization, The Second Mile, that helped children and youth achieve their potential.  This ended up being the tool Sandusky used to gain access to the boys.
  2. When you see abuse happening, INTERVENE! – don’t simply pass the information ‘up the chain’, but step in, holler, scream, make a fuss – anything to stop what is happening!  The Sandusky abuse is chillingly documented in a timeline that shows just how many people knew about what was happening and how they had only ‘passed it up the chain’.  Step in, stop it then take it to the police yourself!
  3. We can never assume that it won’t happen to us – tragically, child abuse in the church most often occurs in smaller, rural congregations and not the big-city-mega-churches like we might think.

As part of our defense against child abuse happening in our church, we have a system called Plan to Protect that gives us proper protocol for the recruitment, screening, training and systems required for maintaining a safe and fun environment at Portage Alliance Church.  If you would like more information on how we plan to keep you child safe, please don’t hesitate to contact the church or leave a comment on this blog.

Let’s continue to pray for the healing of these abused boys and their families and pray that it does not happen in our congregation.

Dreaded Tuesdays

Mondays are good days – they’re my day off with the kids.

Tuesdays are a bit tougher.  Not only are they the “start” of my workweek, they are filled with meetings.

I actually don’t mind the meetings, they are filled with people that I love and whom I love to do ministry with, but at the end of the day, it seems like my pile of to-do stuff never gets accomplished.  If you’ve ever worked at a job where you need to attend meetings, you know exactly what this is like.  “Death by Meetings” is a real hazard for anyone in a workplace environment.  Historically, they are often long, boring and ineffective at accomplishing much and seem to place unneeded stress on the lives of employees/volunteers.  I try to limit the meetings that I host because I know that many people are simply scared off my the simple mention of the “M-word.”

The type of meeting I don't want to be a part of

Luckily I don't experience meetings like this!

“Death by Meeting” is not something I dread at the church – I actually like them because it means I get to spend more time with my coworkers.  While I am always drained of energy on a Tuesday evening, and a little frustrated at the lack of accomplishment of my to-do list, I am so very grateful for them down the road.

Without meetings, discussions and hard decisions being made in the safety of a meeting, our church would look very different.  Ministries would be fighting for space in a very busy building, frustration would abound when communication breaks down and so much energy would be spent trying to clean up relational damage caused by poor planning and misunderstandings.

Because of meetings, our ministries benefit and grow.  There are clear goals that serve as a filter to the things that PAC chooses to do or not to do and we keep each other accountable.

When is the last time you had a family meeting? Heck, even a meeting with your spouse? If you haven’t had one in more than a month, you need to.  What is your family doing? Why are you doing it? How are you spending your leisure time? Your money? Your energy? Is it God-honoring?

If you don’t know where to start, begin with something like this with your spouse: “What do you think is the goal of our family?”

Narrow it down with questions like:

  • “Is how we’re spending out money honoring to God?”
  • “What activities are we saying yes to that we should be instead saying no?”
  • “How can we build into our children more?”
  • “Are we intentionally inviting people into our lives for the sake of Jesus’ Kingdom?”
Don’t fear the meeting.  Fear the long-term repercussions of not having a family meeting.

Catalyst is over

Well, the conference is over, the flights are done, the last hotel is checked out of, and now we’re piled into the rental van driving home from Minneapolis and I’m left to my thoughts and ideas from a great couple days.

The theme of the conference was “Be Present” and the whole thing began in a very powerful, yet understated way reminding us that everyone of us is 1) busy and 2) very busy and that while we are physically present in our lives we miss out on so much because we aren’t really present. We were all urged to slow down our metronome of life and worship in the presence of God.
We were then exposed to fantastic teaching of Andy Stanley, Jim Collins, Dave Ramsey, Francis Chan and a handful of other presenters and worship leaders (including Hillsong) that continually assaulted us with wisdom… and that was only day 1!
Day two also treated us to Mark Discol,  Dave Kinneman, Priscilla Shrier (who really brought the thunder in her preaching… I mean, wow!), sprinkles of other people, and capped it off with Andy Stanley again.
My default mode can be cynicism of the size of the event, the strangeness of the Christian business in the concourse (I mean, there is a bank only for Christians and health care for Christians), the facade of the worship (totally projected on them by my poor attitude) and focus on leadership instead of Jesus.  This was not the case this time; God disarmed me quickly, showed me his presence and matured me for the sake of his name.
My most practical take-home of the event came from Priscilla Schrier who told of finding her old journals that she wrote of a kids and realized that she had not been present through whole seasons of her life.  Each journal through different years of her life went something like this:
“I can’t wait until I’m finally a teenager so I can grow up and be allowed to date…”
“I can’t wait until I’m an adult so I don’t have to deal with my parents rules and be treated like an adult…”
“I can’t wait until I’m married so I can have a man and start a family; then life will be better…”
“I can’t wait until I have a child then our family can be more complete…”

By always looking to the future, waiting for the next thing, the next stage of life, you are essentially refusing to be present in your current life and sending everyone message that who they are right now is not worth enough for you to stop what you’re doing and be present with them.  Are you guilty of this in your life? Are you waiting for your baby to head to preschool? For your 8-year-old to be old enough to watch themselves? For your preteen to join youth group? For your next promotion?

Be present in your home.  With your kids.  With your spouse.  With God. Because you are missing out on the blessings that God is wishing to give to you by always looking to the future.

so far…

Midway through the second day of Catalyst conference – what a blessing to be able to be here with great leaders in PAC and WPS! THings I’ve discovered so far…

  • There aren’t very many free wi-fi hotspots in the USA… gotta pay for ’em
  • I have to abide in God
  • Bus, seats and people… who is where and is that the best fit?
  • Only march 20 miles… even if the conditions allow for 70
  • Food portion sizes in the States are waaaaaay bigger than in Canada
  • Invest in one what I wish I could invest into everyone
  • Fire bullets before firing the canon ball
  • I’m going to like coming here for Orange Conference in April 2012
  • How fast is my metronome moving? Is that effective?
  • Fewer Starbucks and Wal-Mart’s than I thought there would be around here
  • …and so much more I still need to process!
I love my job. I love my church. I miss my family.