Salt

salt

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  Matthew 5:13

I just returned from my first mission trip with a church group from Valles, Mexico. I went with four other men, each representing another decade of life, starting with one in their 20’s and all the way up to my age.

I was asked to do a session on discipleship. It was not my chosen topic. I started by saying that there are three words in common use in Christianity that aren’t in the bible: discipleship, missions and mentoring. Yet they are in the Bible, albeit it not explicitly.

Intuitively, we understand the meaning discipleship and missions, but less so mentoring. A disciple is a follower of Christ, and in Matthew 28, we are commanded to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Unfortunately, the modern church has altered that command. They are more interested in gaining members than making disciples. The result, unfortunately, is predictable.

The church in Europe is a fraction of its size in just two generations. The author of one study said: “Christianity as a default [in Europe], as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years.”

South Korea is suffering the same fate today. They have huge churches, some with over 100,000 members.  They have lost their salt. “They have failed to raise disciples who can live the life of Jesus in Korean society” according to an article in www.lausanne.org 

They have focused on numerical growth, not qualitative growth. Their membership is in a free-fall and predicted to drop from 8.7 million to 3 or 4 million by 2050.

Thom Rainer, a noted church consultant for Lifeway, recently predicted  over half of the churches in America will die in the next 20 years.  Sadly, churches are evaluated on how many members they have, not how many disiples they have made. I suggest it is the wrong measurement.

Churches attempt to teach discipleship through sermons and programs. Those approaches are aimed at the head, not the heart. There is no transformation involved. The result is a watered-down believer who often is invisible to those around them because their lives don’t reflect their beliefs.

Content transfer creating head knowledge is of little help. Discipleship is caught, not taught. It usually takes place outside the four walls of a church. That was the consensus of 5 pastors from around the world when we discussed it on Skype during a recent MentorLink Institute session.

The local church in Valles is trying to figure out how to connect with the millennials and the next generation. They are not alone. I spoke to a pastor in Cameroon who lamented that it is a problem in the African church. I have concluded that the issue is universal.

Millennials in Africa is similar to millennials in Mexico, Asia or the United States. That’s been my observation in interacting with people all over the globe. The common denominator of all millennials is digital communication. It has been a game changer.

In Valles, I used two episodes from the Spanish version of 40 Days with Jesus.  It’s a tool that provides a gateway to a generation that watches videos but doesn’t read.

Pastors everywhere are trying to figure out how to connect with and tap in to the millennials in their midst. It takes some creativity. One idea is what is called WJM in South Korea.WJM stands for the Walking with Jesus Movement.  It is aimed at helping people sense “the presence of God and enjoy the intimacy of the Lord in their daily lives”.

The WJM app permits group discussions on-line with others using the app.  It has improved the quality of small group meetings, because people connect on a daily basis instead of once a week or less often.  In 8 years, 70,000 people now use the app in 137 countries.

Today, millennials overwhelming want to have mentors, but the pool of mentors is sadly lacking. Mentoring can produce disciples relationally. Jesus invested in his Disciples as a mentor. He didn’t sit them down in a classroom and lecture them.

Mentoring is available to all churches everywhere as they seek ways to reach the next generation. Too often, churches ignore relational mentoring as a means of creating disciples. It is the Biblical model Jesus used with the Disciples.

The challenge is to find creative ways to connect with and be salt to the next generation. Mentoring is one tool, and WJM and other apps may provide other tools that harnesses the cyber world to connect with digital natives.

We owe it to the next generation to make them disciples of Christ, not just passive members of a church.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  As a mentor, you can be the salt in a younger person’s life. You role is not make them a follower of you, but a follower of Jesus.

RESOURCES:40 Days with Jesus is available in 28 languages and can be found on YouTube, the MentorLink websiteYouVersion, and The Jesus Film app.

Information on Walking with Jesus Movementcan be found here, and the app can be foundhere.

A site by a millennial called recklesslyalivehas a list of 15 popular bible apps.

FURTHER STUDY:  Since my post on EQ, Tim Elmore at Growing Leaders has released a new Habitutde Curriculum for Social and Emotional Learning.

WORSHIP: Listen to “From the Inside Out” which reminds us that real transformation starts with our heart, not our head.

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EQ

loveyourneighbor

 

Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galations 6:2

Educators have long had a focus on developing your intellect. It is a focus on IQ, aiming to make pupils learn commensurate with their intelligence.  I have long harbored the suspicion that this singular focus may be wrong, and that educators need to be equally or more attentive to developing Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Some call EI a “soft skill”. It can be measured  so that you have not just an IQ but an EQ as well. As one commentator said, “your IQ can only take you so far in life.” I agree. You can take a test to measure your EQ on a scale from 1-160 with averages in the 90-100 range.

In my law career, I interviewed a lot of job applicants, many of whom had college or graduate degrees.  A review of their resume showed they were smart. The interview was an opportunity to determine what I called their “AQ”, or “Attitude Quotient” (this was before the term “EQ” became popular).

I wanted to find out what made them tick, what they were passionate about, and what their interests were outside of academics.  It’s another measurement of “smart” in my opinion. Some call it “street smarts”.

This is important for a number of reasons, but particularly with today’s next generation who often are isolated from interpersonal contact, and instead default to texting or using some other social media rather than conversations which are face to face.

Thomas Sowell, one of my favorite authors,  recently published Discrimination and Disparities. In it, he cites a Stanford University study of some 1,470 people with IQ’s at or above 140 which is generally regarded as a genius level. The study followed their careers for close to 50 years.

The results were surprising. Some in the group had successful careers, “others had modest achievements, and about 20% were clearly disappointments.”

Of 150 men in the disappointments category, only 8% had college educations, and dozens had only high school educations. Two people who were tested as children but didn’t qualify for the study by having an IQ of 140, earned Nobel prizes.  None of the 1,470 people in the study earned a Noble prize.

Sowell concluded that having a high IQ is only one factor in being successful, and that there are other factors at play. For example, in the least successful group, one-third had a parent who dropped out of school before the 8th grade.

Around 1995, a number of educators realized that IQ alone was “no guarantee for the success in life”, and that it might be “too narrow a concept”.  Studies show that IQ alone is not all that is needed for success in life, and that EQ may be a significant determinant of leadership potential.

Which brings me back to EQ, which covers a number of features including self-awareness, self-discipline, motivation, social skills and empathy. One of the attributes of many millennials is that they lack empathy. Their focus is inward – as in “it’s all about me.”  Taking selfies is symptomatic of a deeper self-absorption issue.

Their also lack of interpersonal contact (other than through text or social media) means that they do not have a well-developed skill set at reading people – not only verbal cues but non-verbal cues such as body language.

As a lawyer, I dealt with colleagues who had what I would call limited social skills.  One of them in particular had the interpersonal skills of an anvil dropped from a 10 story building.

He would unintentionally verbally run over some staff member. Periodically,  I had to go into his office and tell him the grim reality that he had messed up and he needed to apologize for whatever he had said or done.

Why is this important?  Studies show that individuals with a high EQ tend to make better leaders. There are now classes offered in Social and Emotional Learning (‘SEL‘). Studies show that of the kids enrolled in SEL classes, 40% improved their grade averages, and 50% got better standardized achievement test scores.

Our challenge here is that the next generations may be even more lacking in EQ than prior generations. Their focus on self can make them emotionally myopic and unable to empathize or connect with those around them in a healthy way.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors are in a great position to help your mentees turn their focus away from themselves to find ways to help others. Encourage them to volunteer at things like soup kitchens or go on a mission trip.

FURTHER STUDY: Article in Forbes Magazine by Travis Bradberry, author of the book

Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

A 2017 Forbes article titled “When It Comes to Success, EQ Trumps IQ Every Time”.

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Pass It On

grandfather

Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

When someone asks: “What do you want your legacy to be?”, I often think about achievements, but then I realize that achievements are temporal. What both my wife and I most desire is to leave our fingerprints all over our children and grandchildren.

We have been blessed with good health and the opportunity to enjoy both generations of our family. We are conscientious in trying to arrange for trips with the grandkids in small groups. We started last year with Sarah, 11, on a trip in Europe.

Next year, we are planning to take our four grandsons to a dude ranch in Cody, Wyoming which is owned and operated by a classmate of my son and daughter from high school. They are already excited. We are too!

This year we took our 16 and 18-year-olds (Allie and Hannah) on a road trip from Nashville, TN, to New Orleans. It was designed to incorporate music since both are active musicians.

We included other sights along the way, including the Space Center in Huntsville, the civil war battlefield in Vicksburg, MS, beautiful ante-bellum homes in Natchez, MS, and the LSU tiger in Baton Rouge, LA.

It was also an opportunity to have a chance to observe two members of Gen Z up close and personal. As I noted in a recent post, they are quick to distance themselves from the millennials.

In many ways, they follow in the footsteps of my generation (the Silent Generation born between 1928 and 1945) as to their work ethic.  I will elaborate on that theme at some other time.

Much of the studies I follow of Generation Z didn’t apply with a couple of exceptions. They were never without their cellphones. I think it was tethered to their hands. Hannah wasn’t into selfies, but she did like to surreptitiously take photos of others. She got one of the best photos of my wife and I which I dearly treasure.

The only issue, of course, was getting them up earlier than 10 am to get started. Teenagers love their rest, and we tried to accommodate them where we could. We shared all meals together, spending a lot of time talking about fun things that we all enjoyed about our family. I learned about them and hope they learned about us.

I am a firm believer in “passing it on” to the next generation of our family. Family stories tell so much about you – how you lived, loved and thought. It covers the good times and the bad. I also do the same with the several men that I mentor.

We are repeatedly encouraged in scripture to pass it on to the next generation.  If we don’t, we have failed what God wants us to do.

The challenge here is for parents and grandparents to be creative in spending quality time with their kids, and in our case, grandchildren. Those moments are legacy makers, and the memories will last a lifetime and beyond. I wish I had been able to do the same with my own grandparents, but it was during a different era and they were unable to travel.

As I have said many times, try to live life with no regrets.

 MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Consider doing something together with your mentee which will build a stronger relationship. You’ll be glad you did.

MUSIC:  Listen to Canons, which comes from Psalm 8 and reminds us that the world’s beauty is a reminder of God’s creation.

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

Millenial Trends

grandma-2637457_1920

After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 2 Corinthians 12:14b

This summer, I took time off from writing while traveling with my two eldest granddaughters who are both musicians. One is a rising Junior in High School and the other starts college this fall. Spending quality time with them was my priority, so I parked my blog writing.  Good move, because family comes first on the priority list.

I did, however, continue to follow interesting trends affecting the next generation, and I’ll spend a couple of posts discussing some of them. Usually I find an article which is interesting, and I email it to myself and save it under “Blog Ideas”.  The two I have chosen are quite different: one is troubling, and the other is light-hearted.

The first trend may be a distinctly American issue, but it’s one that can affect anyone anywhere. It’s the issue of providing care to a parent who has some malady like dementia of Alzheimer’s, or some other disabling health issue requiring either part-time or full-time care.

Millennials now make up 24% of all caregivers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Most have been uprooted from their lives to deal with health issues of their parents or grandparents, and it is occurring earlier.

Baby Boomers, unfortunately, have been poor stewards, and many are financially unprepared for the cost of serious health issues. A recent study shows 1 in 3 Americans have only $5,000 saved for retirement.

Most Boomers planned for Social Security to cover them in retirement, but several factors have made that safety net inadequate, particularly as to rising health care costs. I faced this issue with my own parents, but fortunately they had resources to provide substitute care by others (either a nursing home, or home care).

They haven’t figured out their own life and now “have to make decisions about another’s life.” On top of that, “one-third of employed millennial caregivers have an average household income of less than $30,000. Most are working full time and devoting, on average, 21 hours a week to caregiving.”

The cause, as I mentioned, is not of their own making. It is partly a function of lack of financial planning by the Baby Boomers who have not saved enough for long term health care. I’ve read a number of studies on how unprepared financially the Baby Boomers are. It’s a big problem, because 10,000 Boomers reach 65 every day.

I find this trend to be troubling because it further delays the ability of millennials to get on with their own lives. It also runs counter to the often-repeated accusation that all millennials are self-absorbed.  They are often responding to a family need which puts their own aspirations on hold.

Switching to another trend is the almost cult-like fascination millennials have with plants.  They have become plant lovers due to the fact that they can’t afford to buy houses or have a family. Instead of getting tied into video gaming, they are turning to social media to extol the qualities of their favorite plants on social media.

Their connection to flora has a bizarre similarity to having a pet dog or cat. Instead of loving their pet crossbreed poodle, they love their Schefflera arboricola.  I have to be careful here, because I had a Schefflerafor 25 years, although it was not a dwarf one.  I certainly didn’t get on social media to show a picture or share information about caring for them.

There are even instances where they limit travel because they couldn’t get a proper plant sitter for their exotic houseplant.  No, I’m not kidding.   One West coast millennial said that now that he has 135 houseplants, he has a “perfect excuse not to go home” during the holidays.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Joe Queenan talks about this recent phenomenon.  He notes that one millennial has not visited his parents since 2007 because he finds his plants to be a “lot less annoying.”

I find that incredibly sad. One thing that occurred to me is that the tendency of having extended adolescence up until some are 30 is part of the reason for the plant trend.  Most parents would agree that when your children achieve adulthood, their relationship becomes more normalized.

These two trends are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, you have millennials stepping up to care for family which is self-sacrificial. On the other, you have a hobby that becomes so all important that it intrudes on family relationships.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors can assist millennials facing decisions about their aging parents. You can be a great resource of helpful advice.

RESOURCES:  When the Young Must Take Care of the Old in Wall Street Journal.

WORSHIP: Listen to Healing is in Your Hands by Christy Nockels.

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