My First World Problems and Perspective

I am a man plagued by first world problems.  Here are just a few of the things that I’ve complained about over the past week:

  • An uncharged macbook.
  • Having to fill my gas tank in freezing temperatures.
  • Netflix not having a current season of 30 Rock available.

In light of all my troubles I’m still trucking along in my (almost) paid off 1998 Honda Accord, with the peeling paint job.  I’m wearing whatever clothes I can get on sale at TJ Maxx or Ross, and I’m using computer equipment that my church pays for me to use.  I don’t even own the Macbook I’m typing this post on.  My world is really crazy, right?

Not so much.

If I’m not careful I find myself losing all perspective, and living out the garbage I see on Reality TV.  Perspective.  That’s some kind of word, huh?  How to get it?  How to maintain it?  How to keep it?

I’m not sure, but I know that this $100 backpack will sure help.  Or will it?  I struggle to live out my perfectly perfect life in an environment that is the envy of the rest of the world.  I struggle.  Struggle, really?  What the what?  It’s the great western world dilemma.  Living with gratitude for all that I have, while also having a perspective on the blessings I’ve been given.

I get to contemplate matters of great significance: Should I put my kids in that great new school in town? Should I go to graduate school? Is the new iPad a toy, or a work tool?  Just seeing those words makes me want to puke.  Is that significance?  It is, but it isn’t.  It isn’t, but it is.

Then this Bible verse goes and set’s me straight.

2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that  though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

My personal goal is to open my eyes to realities in the world that I would rather ignore and to let the Bible call me to look at those realities through the eyes of the one that gave up all to become poor.  And he did it so that I would become rich.  Not rich, like owning vacation homes and wearing expensive clothes rich.  Rich like not needing things of the world to define me.


Free Stuff Monday

Here s the most complete picture Bible ever! And it features a captivating, up-to-date artwork style—making it the perfect Bible for today s visually focused culture.  The Action Bible  presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible s historical flow—and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax.  The stories in  The Action Bible  communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries.
My own kids love, love, love this Bible.  It’s something all your grade school boys (and even dads) will love to read through.
Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world s most awesome story, and today I’m giving away a FREE copy!  Enter below to have one all to yourself!

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Kidmin 360 Search: Helping Great Leaders find Great Churches

I’ve started working with the great Kidmin360 Staffing team, to help great churches find great pastors to children and families.  We are currently looking for a  Pastor of Family Ministry  at a wonderful church in  Vancouver, Washington –  Crossroads Community Church.  

Visit our  Candidate Page  for details, including a downloadable  Position Profile  for this and other searches we are engaged with. If you or someone you know is interested in this position, or any of the opportunities we represent, please follow the links to upload your resume confidentially.

If you are interested or know someone who might be, please give me a DM on Twitter @jonathancliff or email me at jc at

And, of course, if you know of a church looking for a new children s or family ministry leaders, please let them know about  our services! We are affordable, solely focused on children s & family ministry (our  team  has over 75 years experience in this field), and offer a nationwide network from which to draw from.  We  connect children s & family ministry leaders with growing churches!  

Free Stuff Monday

The wait is finally over. Yancy and friends have created a new collection of songs that are sure to warm the hearts of preschool kids and their parents too. You ll find lots of singalong fun including songs to celebrate some of the most special days of the year including Valentine s, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Birthdays.

CD includes 16 songs: Brand New Day, Shout!, Go!, Love One Another, Hosanna Rock, One, Two, Three, The Springtime Song, The Dog Song, Happy Birthday To You, Bye, Bye, Bye, I Like To, Don t Be A Turkey, God Is Good To Me, Away In A Manger, It s Christmastime, Love One Another (Lullaby Mix)

And for those of you working with kids in or around the church, there is a special DVD that includes animated music videos that are sure to capture the imagination of your preschool children. Perfect for home, church or the car for singalong and worship fun. BONUS: DVD includes soundtracks and mpeg files for you to import into your presentation software. DVD includes 11 songs: Shout!, Go!, Love One Another, Hosanna Rock, One, Two, Three, Happy Birthday To You, Bye, Bye, Bye, I Like To, Don t Be A Turkey, It s Christmastime, Love One Another (Lullaby Mix)

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Finish Strong

There is so much that goes into making spiritual environments for children, students, and families.  We work with sermons (talks), music, relationship building, and interactive elements.  With all of this planning do you take the time to look at your last impressions?  There is so much talk about that first impression, and there is no doubt that the first thing people see will set the expectations.  Yet, we leave little thought for the final impressions, and that’s too bad; because final impressions matter.

We need to organize our dismissal times with the same energy that we organize our arrival times.  This goes for Student Ministry and Children’s Ministry.  To not be intentional with how we say goodbye, is to miss the greatest opportunity to help kids remember.  It’s not about trying to hand out candy to that kid when they say the bible verse in front of their parents.  Really, it’s not.  It’s not about the youth pastor following up with the parents of insolent teenagers after church.  Really, it’s not.

I believe that there will always be an element of chaos to our dismissal times, but if we are intentional just a little bit we can make them better.  Here are 4 things to consider during this craziest of all times in our teaching environments.

1.  20% Showing Off what you ve done & 80% Encouraging Families with what was taught.  This is a big Kidmin thing to do.  We want to let our children show off what they’ve learned, but it’s our job as leaders to help parents take that next step.  We need to train our leaders to talk to parents at this time.  This may be when parents are the most receptive, and we need to take advantage of the chance ot involve families in all that we’ve done.

2.  Organized, smaller spaces for dismissal allow you to communicate vision to parents AND their children.  If you are doing the super large dismissal where you scream a kids name over a microphone, or let teenagers run into the parking lot en mass; then you are missing it.  Stay small for as long as you can, and let parents enter this environment.

3. Intentional Conversations.  We all know the families that need our special attention.  As a leader we identify, and then take action with the families that need our help.  I dare you to write down those families you most need to be influecing, and then look for them at the end of each service.

4. Positive Reinforcement. Take the time to speak life and hope into the families, children, and students when they leave.  You very well might be the last positive voice they hear until next Sunday

So I’d like to hear how you are intentional with your families at dismissal times.  And if not, what are you going to do different to make the best use of this valuable part of your time with children, students, and families?