Making An Impact – 5 Ideas for powerful dining experiences

9 Jul

IMG_1643“And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner…” Romans 12:13 TLB

You want to have an impact on people’s lives.  I want to have an impact on people’s lives.  What are some of the most simple ways to actually do that?  One way is sharing a meal.  Let me unpack this a bit.

Marni and I are living in Seattle with our very young son, Hudson.  We get invited to the home of Hope and Harry MacDonald.  I can still tell you that this one evening transformed our friendship.  Hope had gone to every effort to make this a wonderful experience for us — china, fondue, candles, desert, and just the set up of the table said to us, “We want you here!”

We knew we were moving from Seattle to Houston.  The Jani’s invited us to dinner.  They lived at the time on the water in Bellevue.  I will never forget when Marni and I arrived — they had moved the kitchen table out to the lawn so it was on the waterfront.  Candles were in glass cylinders so not to be blown out.  There was a lingering sense about the meal… it was incredibly valuing to us that they would go to this effort.

I remember when Marni and I got married and purchased – or shall I say, were given, a large assortment of china, we said we were going to use it at least 3-4 times per year.  This year we had a couple over for Valentines Day.  It was fun (and of course a little effort) to set the table with all the “fixin’s.”  The joy we received they rounded the corner and saw the table all decorated, and they realize it was for them, they were honored.

A few years ago we took the boys on the little cruise from Long Beach to Mexico.  It was about 4 days.  We had a great time just being together as a family.  If you ask the boys what they enjoyed the most?  Dinners!  Coming into the elegant dining room, with the tables looking so nice, being seated, and then handed a menu from which to choose your meal.  We had great conversation, it was a great atmosphere, and we felt special for sure.

At a Young Life summer camp we do what most kids do not get these days — almost every meal at a round table, with table cloth, all the place settings done nicely, cloth napkins, and a server to bring all the food.  It is a special time of fellowship, conversation, and for sure saying to the kid – “you are important!”

Don’t laugh or judge me on this next statement:  My family watches “Leave it to Beaver!”  It’s true!  My mom gave it to the boys for Christmas.  The “Beav” is Charlie’s age, and Wally is Hudson’s.  We have enjoyed watching these and really it’s quite remarkable how much the boys enjoy it. (And yes, Marni has drawn the line at June’s pearls!)  During most episodes they show the family at the dinner table.  It is usually set very nice, they seem to be taking their time, passing the serving dishes, and recapping the day.  It really is both a step back into time as well as a challenge of how to make meals intimate, conversational, and honoring.

Here you go – 5 ways you can use a dining table to make an impact:

  1. Pick a couple, family, or friends you want to value.  Set a date and invite them over for a meal at your home.  Plan on making it as nice as you would a Thanksgiving meal.  Linger at the table.  Talk.  Get to know what is going on in their lives more than you ever would at a restaurant.
  2. Surprise your family with a dinner by courses!  Set your table as nice as you can.  Bring out each course with some topics and questions.  Strive to eat slow (very hard for me) and to linger a bit and have conversation.  Appetizer, Soup/Salad, Main Course, and then dessert.
  3. Take an important person to you – friend, spouse, date, to a nice restaurant, but for lunch!  Marni and I love to do this and will do this with regularity in the fall.  The restaurant is the same as it is at night — just less expensive and less crowded.  We love going to this restaurant in Colorado Springs:  http://www.thefamoussteakhouse.net/
  4. Surprise someone special with a picnic!  I will never forget seeing Betsy McKillop bringing lunch to her friend Ann Miller.  Ann was the secretary at the high school and had a short lunch.  Betsy brought all the lunch in a picnic basket and set it all up in her car!  I remember as I walked by there was even a checkered napkin making a “table cloth” over the center console of the car.
  5. Have a few families over that you don’t know, but want to.  This can be after church, this could be parents of kids that are on your kids sports teams, or just people in the neighborhood.  We have lived her for 8 months – we have hosted 15 dinner functions that I can remember.  We have been to someone’s home for lunch or dinner 2x that I can think of.  People are busy, and people don’t want to initiate is my sense.  So, when you do invite, initiate, and have folks over — you are valuing like crazy!

You want to make an impact?  One way to do this is to utilize your “dining table.”  People will be impacted by your hospitality – I just know it!

Eric

5 Ways to Conquer Life’s Hikes!

8 Jul

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“Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them high up on a hill-side where they were entirely alone.”  Mark 9:2

Life is a hike, isn’t it?  The picture above is from the family hike at Young Life’s Trail West Lodge.  Certainly there were a few spots where we were huffing and puffing…. maybe even asking, “How much farther?”  We eventually made it to the top – where smiles and high-fives were visible everywhere.  The hike was worth it!

We have “hikes’ all the time in life.  Hikes are “a walk for a long distance, especially across the country or in the woods.”  The phrase that means the most to me is “long distance.”  Each of us are being asked to accomplish a “hike” or doing something for a long distance.  Here are a few I thought of this morning…

  • Raising kids — it’s a long distance between birth and 22.  It’s a hike.
  • Projects at work — sometimes projects we are working on just take time, process, and teamwork.
  • Relationships — this is something our family is learning right now big time.  Making relationships that are more long term and sustainable are a “hike.”  It takes time logged and distance traveled.
  • Health — processing different health issues is a “hike.”  It’s trips to the doctor, it’s changing pattens, and sometimes it is just being a sleuth.  Be your own detective!
  • Dashed Hopes — many people I know are dealing with pain, tragedy, and loss.  Making it back up to the water’s surface for air sometimes is a hike.  Don’t give up… the view is worth it, but sometimes it takes extra effort to get there.
  • Finally, the calendar — Do you ever look at your calendar and say – “We just did this!”  Or, realize that what you thought was just last year was actually 2-3 years ago!  We are hiking across days, months, years, and even decades!

So, given all the hikes above — what would be some hiking tips?  Well, funny you should ask!  Here are the Hiking Survival Tips 101!  There are only FIVE!  Here goes:

  1. Before you start, admit:  Hikes are painful.   You can pack the water, sunscreen, and a granola bar all you want.  Hikes are still going to be painful.  If you at least start off with this in your mind, hike will be much more enjoyable.  Raising kids… if you know from the start that you are going to the ER, they will break something valuable, a team will not be made, they will be left out, and they are very much like YOU WERE.  It helps the hike!
  2. Prepare!  We went on a hike as a family on the 4th of July.  As we were heading up there were a variety of hikers.  One particular guy agitated me as he passed me.  He had a walking stick, a back pack, and a large sun protective hat.  I remember thinking to myself – “Why does he have all this, it’s a short hike!”  You know, by the time we got to the car I thought to myself, “I am going to be more prepared next time.”  What “hikes” are you being asked to lead?  Are you as prepared as you can be?
  3. Enjoy the view along the way!  Many hikes are to destinations.  The peak, the sign, the waterfall, and the like.  One of the things that makes a hike more fun, and takes some of the pain away is to stop and enjoy the views along the way.  This can be celebrating… this can be enjoying the team, company, family, along the way.  Even in the times of “dashed hopes” there can be a way to stop and enjoy the view.  Recently, with our move, we have had to stop and see what God is doing along the way.  It’s easy to see how hard the hike is, or what we have left behind.  One good thing to do is to stop and see the view we do have — enjoy it — it helps the remainder of the hike ahead.
  4. Encourage fellow hikers within your ear shot!  Encourage, encourage, and encourage.  Everyone is on a hike!  (You just don’t always know what their hike is.)  “Way to go!”  “Keep going!”  People want to hear encouragement.  I recently passed on a very little piece of encouragement to a woman at work.  It was something I heard someone else say about her, so I told her.  She stopped me, grabbed my forearm, and said, “You have made my day!”  People can make hikes when other life hikers around them are shouting encouragements!
  5. Celebrate at the Top!  You made it!  Take the photo of the completed project, the kids at the final game, the marked out calendar, the new friendship God has given you… whatever it is, celebrate the moment at the top.  You will have more hikes coming… this is what life does.  It keeps coming at us for sure.  The more hikes you have completed gives you encouragement about the upcoming hikes that you will face.

Happy hiking!  Love to hear from you about what God is doing in your life!

Eric

Sit with your Yoda!

3 Nov

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Ever sat with Yoda? Think about it… you want to be a Jedi and you get to have coffee with the most renowned and powerful Jedi Masters in galactic history! He was known for his wisdom, mastery of the Force, and was pretty good with a lightsaber!

Last week I had the chance to sit with my new coach. This man was a CDO (Chief Development Officer) for a leading non-profit for nearly 18 years. We spent the day together and I asked him these two questions:

  • How should I think as CDO?
  • What can I do, that only I as the CDO, can do?

As we sat looking out over the changings color of leaves on a brisk Colorado afternoon, here was his answer that I hope will translate into what you are working on in your life.

  • Be the “relationship builder” in chief. I loved this, and as I look down at my notes he also said, “ignite meaningful relationships.” Love this – it’s challenging for sure.
  • Create a culture that embraces philanthropic partnership. I think that one of the take-a-ways here was to allow many within your organization to participate with your goals.
  • Be a strategist and a planner. Implement what you plan! Later that afternoon he gave me some good thoughts on making a strategic plan.
  • Strive to be a “thought leader.” Be educated in your discipline. I asked him about others in this field, and who does this well. The two examples he gave me were followed by this: “They pay attention to what is happening in this space.”
  • Flag Bearer! (Walk the talk.) Challenge the team to give, work on having as many as possible to have skin in the game.
  • You ARE a “Sight Raiser!” God-sized goals … ambitious … always one step ahead asking, “what is next?” People want to be around you – you are exciting to be around.
  • Talent Magnet. You want people in the organization to want to come and work in your arena. Great place to work, environment, and a thriving vibration that exudes.
  • Servant Leader. Always try and invert that organization chart or pyramid.
  • Mentor your successor. Be thinking about what happens if you left your post today.
  • List Management. Be tactic. In the world of development, use the “Moves Management” as a practice. Have a system to the relational approach.

As we walked away from the table we sat at for nearly 6 hours … let’s just say that the lightsaber felt a little heavy, and the years of flight my mentor has experienced were evident. I have a lot to learn … and excited to do just that!

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” (Yoda to Luke Skywalker)

Moving Clarifies: It’s About People!

22 Oct
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Moments before the Scofield’s headed out to Colorado… and on the other side of this camera was a great crew of people we love!

Everyone should move. The act of moving offers up a sense of clarity, it jostles ones world, and it also provides a sense of adventure. Marni, the boys, and I packed the truck and headed to Colorado just over a week ago. We are down to a few boxes left to unpack, and last night was our first home cooked meal! (Marni’s rice pasta with a secret sausage sauce!)

Once your feet are firmly planted on Colorado soil, you look back and ask yourself – what is left from the decade in San Diego? What remains? What will you take with you? (It was a bit of shock and sadness yesterday to see all our beach items – why did I bring the boogie board?)

Paul in the New Testament has a similar reflection. It comes in a little excerpt at the end of his life when he writes to Timothy and has this to say:

“9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” 2 Timothy 4:9-13

You know what I like in this text? I love the 7 names – Demas, Crescens, Titus, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, and Carpus. In the end, as Paul reflects, it was about the people. The people are what make the story!

Yesterday I took Charlie to school. The day before we went to Hudson’s first game. I came away from both of these very typical and normal occurrences with a sense of emptiness. The people! Marni and I don’t know any of the people. In San Diego we sat with a crew at Hudson’s games… and talked life while watching the game. If we took Charlie to school you knew the people walking, the amazing traffic volunteers, and kids shouting, “Mr. Scofield! Hey!”

Moving offers a great sense of clarity. Do I really need to move this or not? As you unpack, you focus on beds first, and then the kitchen so you can eat. Clarity. The clarity for me though is the people. Marni and I invested in people, and if we go back to San Diego for a visit we won’t be at Seaworld, the beach, or even Torrey Pines. We will be with our list of seven! What really matters? I love the simplicity of loving God and loving people. Seems clear doesn’t it?

Moving jostles your world for sure! Movers separate lamp shades from lamps – why? It is like a big puzzle on the other end. The jostling of ones world is good – it offers you the chance to reground yourself. It’s like a freshman year in college all over – who do you want to be? The truth is, you don’t have to move to have a “jostling” … a project around your home can do it, a crisis will definitely do it, and a new job can also do it. We are such creatures of habit, and in that habit, we tend to trust the world around us… here’s to jostling!

Moving is a sense of adventure for sure! I talked with a friend from Montana on the phone yesterday. What an encouragement he was in the short call we had. He just kept saying, “This is so good. What an adventure you are on!” He continued saying that it is in the adventure you can see the fingerprints of God with even greater clarity. We are on day 8 since flying out of San Diego, so I cannot say I see the plan yet, we are still in the marine layer (sigh). We have seen God go before us on this move though – that is for sure.

I know this much – please keep doing traffic with a sense of energy and personality Kristin … I will try and make our Christmas lunch Tyler … Lisa, you still will get the calls on what to do in certain situations … I will miss golfing with Matt, John, Mike, and Dave … take care of the Broken Yolk TATY crew … and I could go on and on. But now I have to work hard right here…. Investing in people. The crossing guard at Broadmoor Elementary is a great elder gentleman named John, and yesterday I got to break down boxes with Curtis, and the man of the hour who has swung by twice is Brian. I sense the Lord has already given me a sense of excitement to go deep with a few… give me a decade, and let’s see how it all unfolds!

Do You Need TEAM?

8 Jul

Recently I was reading an email from years past … do you ever do that?  I decided that 23,000 emails in my saved inbox was too many.  I deleted a huge amount — did that feel good.  One of the emails I read was from a past boss.  He was talking about the “softer side of leadership.”  One of the softer sides he was referring too was the usage and acceptance of TEAM.

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Charlie and his TEAM cheering on Gabe after the winning hit en route to a Championship season! Go D’Backs!

I love this photo — there are many reasons.  One reason I love it is the batter last in our rotation, the batter that was the youngest on our team, and the person with the least amount of experience stepped up to the plate and WON THE GAME! 

Looking back I can honestly say many ways in which I did NOT utilize a team.  It’s easy to do.  Ever seen a Superman cape?  Here are some simple ways to skip right over team —

  • Don’t ask their opinion
  • Don’t CC them on important emails
  • Make decisions that are really in their court
  • Believe more in you than in them
  • Take the credit when something goes well — all by yourself

Do you need TEAM?  What would the people around your leadership say to that?  Do they know what the vision is?  Did they get to speak into it?  Do they feel believed in?

I will never forget that night.  Little Gabe stepped up to the plate and there was nothing but belief on that field, with his teammates noses peaking through the fence — “You got this Gabe!”  They believed, they cheered, they promoted, and they made sure when he hit that ball and we scored the winning run that they were all over him!

What do you need to do with your TEAM (mates) that are up to bat?  Are you cheering?  Are you believing? 

Go team!

Eric

Does it reach kids? What’s your mission?

23 Oct

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The WyldLife Club I volunteer with . . . great kids, great times!

 

This was an article I wrote this week for Young Life’s national communication.

“Does It Reach Kids?”

As a young area director, I had a very crowded office. It was in an old house where we were given the basement corner. We packed the area office into this basement, and as I look back, it’s one of my all-time favorite offices. We had the normal Young Life office “swag.” We had tubs with left-over clothespins, shaving cream, surgical gloves and colored flagging tape. We had golf sponsor signs from past tournaments in hopes that they would decide to sponsor again! And, we had a golden glove cabin clean-up award and lots of camp photos! All in all, it was a great place to swing by and hang out.

I was recently at a lunch with an area director who was a part-time student staff back in the “basement corner” days. He reminded me of one key item I had forgotten. There was a large poster that hung on the wall with this quote: “Does it reach kids?”

That question kept us focused on our mission as a leadership team. Here are a few conclusions we came to as we kept that quote front and center:

In Young Life, everything we do gives kids a chance to meet and follow Jesus! Kids can respond to the Savior anytime and anywhere, not just at summer camp. Be aware and be prepared!
As you create your schedule, use the litmus test, “Does it help us reach kids?” If it doesn’t, then delete it.

In one discussion, a team leader realized that if he did 20 percent less kid work and instead focused on recruiting leaders, he would reach many more kids!

“So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me” (Colossians 1:28-29, J. B. Phillips Version). These words from Paul remind me of a couple of things:

 

  • “Naturally proclaim Christ” — Is this not what we do in Young Life? We have a way and a style in our very DNA of communicating Jesus. Be natural, be who God created you to be and proclaim the person of Christ.
  • “All we know about Him” — What is a great Young Life message? Telling kids about Jesus! Make sure He has the maximum “time of possession” in the talk. In other words, are we talking more about ourselves, or more about Jesus? Are we talking more about the woman at the well or the leper who was healed, or are we talking more about the Savior who met them?
  • “Working at … with all the strength” — It seems to me that the evil one loves to get us off target, even slightly. Keep working at reaching lost kids for Jesus! Keep asking yourself, “Does it reach kids?”

As we hit the fall stride, clubs have been going for a couple of months, fall camps are in gear, and we begin to get busy with the fast-approaching holidays. It’s time to think KISS! (Keep It Super Simple). Look at what is transpiring in your ministry. Ask yourself, “Does it reach kids?” Thank you for doing what you are doing in this great mission! You ARE making a difference!

WAYS YOU CAN SELL THE FARM!

16 Oct

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I remember when Richard came to me after stopping by a weekend Young Life camp and seeing us struggle with our sound equipment – “Eric, go by the audio store and make a list of everything you need to make a weekend camp awesome.  Music at the games, music in club, a microphone for the speaker, a way to play two songs at once . . . make a list.”  So, I did just that.  I gave the list to Richard and said, remember, you told me to make a complete “dream” list – so there it is.  Richard didn’t even flinch.  He said, “Thanks for the information.”

Two weeks later a delivery came to our office.  It was everything that was on that list.  It was like Christmas!  Richard “sold the farm!”

“Selling the farm” can happen in a lot of ways.  I take this from the new testament when the bible says this:  “It was at this time that Barnabas sold his farm and put the proceeds at the apostles’ disposal.”  (Acts 4:36-37)

It was “at this time” that God tapped Richard on the shoulder and inspired him to “sell his farm.”  This is how it works . . . whenever you see amazing things going on, it usually means there are a lot of people “selling their farms.

These past few months Marni and I have been humbled by the people that have sold the farms around our lives.  The doorbell rings with meals, gift cards, flowers, people offering to run errands, rides for the boys, and the person just coming to sit and be with her.  The people that sell the farm do not always have the resources to do it.  The key to selling the farm is the heart.  Some of the people that have been the most “sold out” are the ones that have the deepest experiences of loss, or, have been the recipients of others selling the farm for them.

God uses people to accomplish his work.  The mystery of the Gospel is that “Christ is IN you!  Yes, IN YOU!”  And with that, comes hope for others!  (Colossians 1:27) 

God used Barnabas and a plot of land.  God used Richard to make weekend camps even more awesome.  God has used countless people in the Scofields’ lives since June.  God wants to use YOU!

How might God use YOU?  How could you “sell the farm?”  Here are a few ways I have thought of – but let them ruminate and see what you come up with as well!

  • Sell the Farm VISION.  Did you ever think that you might help others with your vision and perspective?  I remember being a young Area Director and wondering how to pull off a golf tournament.  It was Steve’s VISION alongside of me that put me over the edge.  It was as if his courage dripped over into my heart.
  • Sell the Farm CARE.  Every year we would put on a Christmas gathering.  As an Area Director I showed up with my Christmas tie and a devotional.  Everything else came from others.  It was one of the best nights of the year – and it was put on by other’s CARE.  The food, the decorations, the music, the thoughtfulness.  Leaders always walked away from that night knowing they were cared for.
  • Sell the Farm CASH.  I remember one summer’s evening when a committee guy came by our summer event at the park.  He happened to catch a sound byte of a leader saying they had a kid who could go to camp, but they were short the funds.  He pulled out his money clip and peeled off 3 one-hundred dollar bills.  “Will this help?” Yes, it helped!  The best part of that story was when that girl, 7 years later, married, expecting, and in love with her husband she met at that camp called and said, “Who was that guy? I want to connect and thank him.”  Wish I could have been on that phone call!
  • Sell the Farm STRATEGY.  There was a day when we had an 8500 square foot home that we wanted to have as a leader house and epicenter for ministry.  There was a group that met, planned, raised funds, and oversaw this project.  They were in construction and development, and they knew what they were doing.  I remember one day looking around at the 13 leaders living in the house, the dunk ball court in the back, the newly renovated kitchen and bathrooms, and the game room in the basement.  This all happened because of these people “selling the farm.”

What about you?  Where have others “sold the farm” to help you in your life?  Where have you been nudged to “sell the farm” for others? 

I am certainly grateful. 

Have a great day!

Eric

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