Friday, February 23, 2018

Open Doors

Do you have a dream for your life?

Do you feel God has given you a gift to use?

If you do, then you have likely felt at some point early in your journey a sense of frustration; frustration that your dream has not yet taken flight, that your gift has not yet been highlighted.  You have been stuck at the starter’s gate, never getting that opportunity to shine, to have real impact. 

Nothing is more discouraging than watching others achieve success in realizing their dream, in harnessing their gift, and you watching from the sidelines, in obscurity.  It’s as if you are watching others have a big party in a room, but you are on the outside looking in.  The door is locked to the room, and all you can do is press your face up to the window and watch from a distance.

Question: how do you get access in to the party? What is the magic key that unlocks the door to achieving your dream, to using your gift for great impact?

The answer is not WHAT
The answer is WHO

I am a dreamer.  I wanted to discover my gifts.  I remember feeling frustrated thinking that I was miles away from achieving what God had planted in me.  I would watch my dad  as the Pastor lead his church and think “how will I ever get to that?” I watched my Worship Pastor, David Basel sing and lead choirs and musical presentations and thought “could I ever be good enough to lead that?”  I remember going to Christian concerts seeing Michael W. Smith, watching him play keyboard with great musicians thinking “how does he do that?”

I played my first solo in Kids Church at 6 years old

Most people would watch around me and simply enjoy and admire.  But me, I had a burning desire to DO THAT.  I admired, for sure, and fell in love with these heroes, watching what they could do.  I prayed to God for an opportunity to begin my personal journey to discover my dreams.

My dad and I are best friends, and have always enjoyed music together
Early on, my dad gave me opportunities to serve in church.  He challenged me to learn hymns (classic songs sung in the church many years ago) on the piano.  My dad was not only the Senior Pastor who led the church, but he was musically gifted.  So, he would many Sundays go to the piano before he preached his message and lead the church in a song.

I could only play decent in 3 keys, so my grandmother covered me on the organ
As I got proficient enough on the piano, he would start the song on the piano and get people singing.  Then, he would motion for me to come over to the piano.  We would literally switch seats on the piano midway through the song.  It was exhilarating for me! I was not very good at piano early on, so my grandmother would play the organ very loud to cover my mistakes.   My dad made space for me to use my gift.

David has always been part of the Pilot Family
My Worship Pastor, David Basel took an interest in me, seeing that I had the dream of leading music in church.  David invited me to assist him with preparation for choir rehearsals.  He gave me small singing parts, and even let me play keyboards after church.  When he saw me trying to learn songs, he celebrated me and invested time in me.  David inspired me to go to the same Christian college as he had in Springfield, Missouri, to audition for their school traveling choir.  Also, he told me stories about a great pianist and music arranger, Winnie Swaim, who taught only the most gifted music students.  As David told me about his college days, my eyes lit up like Christmas lights. 

With the support of my parents, and the belief of my Worship Pastor, I was soon off to Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.  There, I auditioned for the school choir, and met Winnie Swaim, who I had the distinct privilege to study music with. 

Winnie Swaim is a legend in the Assemblies of God
She taught me touch on the piano, how to create atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to speak to people as I set the tone with music.  She taught me to arrange music with my eraser, meaning that music needs space and silence, not just lots of notes.  Mrs. Swaim introduced me to my wife, Kellie and called out the gifts and destiny in me as a young man.

Mrs. Swaim introduced me to a young, talented music director, Nate Carter, who founded and led a music group, Frontline – the hottest ticket in town.  I was awe struck by Nate’s edgy music arrangements and cool, talented band and singers.  Nate was a protégé of Winnie Swaim.  It was her endorsement of me that gained me access to Nate’s inner circle.  Nate not only let me play keys in his band, he also gave me opportunities to arrange songs! I could not believe it – to actually hear his Frontline music group singing my arrangement.  I was living my dream.  Nate actually hired me to do music arrangements in the Assemblies of God Media Studios.  I was a college student who was getting to work with the best engineers and musicians in Springfield, all because Nate gave me access.

With Nate and another great Music Director, Dominique!
 While traveling with Frontline to perform at events,  I met friends like Aaron Unthank, Devin Webb, and Michael Neale, who were part of the group.  Michael was the team leader, and was also an aspiring song writer.  Nate Carter had a heart to help us all develop our gift, so Frontline not only sang Nate’s songs, we sang Michael’s songs.  After we all graduated College, it was YEARS later when I moved back to Florida and re-connected with Michael.  I was working in a church in Boca Raton and Michael was leading music at Christ Fellowship in Palm Beach Gardens.

Michael gave me the opportunity to come serve with him at Christ Fellowship.  He actually made room for me on his team.  Michael introduced me to his Pastor, Todd Mullins.  Todd did not know me, or know what I could do.  But it was Michael’s influence that gained me a place at Christ Fellowship.  Michael writes beautiful songs, and can lead churches in to the presence of the Lord with music like no one can.  Yet,  Michael included me in helping to arrange his songs, to play for him as he sang, and maximized my gift as he attached it to his.  

After serving at Christ Fellowship, where I learned health in ministry and learned leadership, Pastor Todd began noticing me and took a chance in trying me out as one of his Campus Pastors.  Pastor Todd trained me and invested in my life.  He gave me the assignment of starting Christ Fellowship in Stuart, Florida.  After nine years of building the Stuart Campus, now I have built great relationships and influence beyond Christ Fellowship, throughout all of Martin County.  I have connections with Pastors, School Board Members, Law Enforcement, even Florida State Leaders! This all happened because Pastor Todd put me on his platform of leadership and created space for me to build influence through Christ Fellowship.

Pastors Todd & Julie Mullins celebrated with us on the first Sunday in the opening of our new building in Stuart!

I look back at my journey thus far and realize that key people were the key:

Larry & Susan Pilot
Parents who modeled pioneering leadership
David Basel
Music Pastor who gave me a front seat to his ministry
Winnie Swaim
Master Teacher who opened my eyes to the heart of God and to the gift of music
Nate Carter
Music Arranger and Band Leader who gave me a chance to do what he did so well
Michael Neale
Friend who made a place for me on his team and was always helping me win
Todd Mullins
Pastor who saw more in me than just a musician, and gave me the tools to become more

Not only are these people significant to opening doors for me – notice that one connected to the next.  My mom and dad connected me to David, who connected me to Mrs. Swaim, to Nate, to Michael, to Pastor Todd.  One door leads to another.

The key to opportunity is
always finding a key person in your life

If you are early on in your journey, and feel like you are on the outside looking in, here is my advice: go find someone that you want to be like, and serve them.  Now let me warn you: DON’T start with sharing your dream, and then ask them to mentor you.  Here is the key to connecting with them: serve them.  Add value to them.  Don’t even ask them.  Just find ways to support them, solve their problems, lift their load.  If you care what they care about, you will find that they will care about helping you get where you are going.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

If you have already experienced great results in achieving your dream, I bet you have had help getting there.

What is your legacy lineage?

3 generations of Pilots in church.  Proud of my son, Michael!

I am sure if you thought about it and wrote down all of the people that impacted your life along the way, you might have some thank you notes to write and send.

My daughter, Madison sings beautiful and I play the piano for her!

I would encourage you to BE THE KEY for someone else.  Unlock the door.  Who is the young person standing over in the corner watching you? Who is always early and stays late just be around you, be around the great things God is doing in you and through you? Maybe they deserve some of your time.

The greatest gift we can give people is our time.

Here’s a challenge to you if you are successful/fruitful in your life:

Never do what you do alone
Always take someone with you

When you go to a job, or an appointment, stop and ask yourself: who could I invite to go with me? The car ride to the appointment is gold for them.  When you are planning your next event, stop and ask: who can I invite to be in the room with us as we plan? If you are a singer or musician and you are planning this week’s concert, or church service, ask yourself: can I give a solo to someone else? Can I give a part of the song to this musician to play? Let me encourage you: the song may struggle, but their dream will soar.

People are the key to opening doors to dreams

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Right Tool for the Job

If you find yourself in a leadership position within your organization, at some point you will find yourself in the pressure point of having to reach your goals.  You were given your role to grow the team, build the organization, create a system that works.  Yet you are confronted with people to please, problems to solve, and obstacles to overcome.

What most of us do as a logical next step is we do what is expected of us.  We follow the prescribed strategy and system that is in place.  We ask our peers what they are doing to succeed.  We think that if we just keep doing more of the same, but try harder, that it will get us to finally achieve the growth and success we are responsible to bring.

However, let me challenge you that many times, using the same thinking, same procedure may not give you the break-through success you seek.  You may need a different tool for this task. 

Think of yourself as a handyman (or woman - my wife is actually more handy than I am 😃 ).  You have a tool belt strapped around you and you are accessing the job that needs done at the house.  You see a screw is loose on a cabinet in the kitchen.  As you look more closely, you notice that the screw is a Phillips screw.  Now, you wouldn’t pull out your hammer and begin hammering the screw, would you? (OK - maybe some of you who are impatient enough may!)  Rather, you would look through your tool belt and find your Phillips screwdriver and tighten the screw! 

This analogy has helped me get unstuck when I am neck-deep in an objective I am trying to accomplish..  That is, I remind myself to employ what is my greatest resource, the RIGHT TOOL I have at my disposal:

We have been given an incredible mind by God, Who created us.  God is the Great Creator.  He is Creative.  The Bible starts off by revealing God’s very creative nature:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.

The Bible also says that we, His creation are made in His image.

Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

So, when we are creative, we are actually using the very nature, the actual tool that God gave us.  Our creativity is one of the attributes that sets us apart from all of God’s creation.  It is our ability to ask questions, to design something fresh, to think out of the box that makes us, as the writer, David says “we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139

When you are in the crunch of having to produce results, but feel stuck and stifled, consider the following:

Don’t Tell Me What You Don’t Have

Pastor Ashley Murphy thinking out of the box on bringing a fresh feel to our Student Experience - it was awesome!
Don’t focus energy on what you think you lack.  Rather, immediately take an inventory of what you DO have.  As a Pastor, I always keep in mind Pastor friends I have who do NOT have a building to meet in, who do NOT have a budget, who do NOT have any volunteers.  I quickly begin thanking God for all of the wonderful resources I am entrusted with by Christ Fellowship to accomplish the ministry of the church.  Sometimes, when I want to tease my two teenage kids at home, I remind them “isn’t this WIFI nice?” or, “don’t you appreciate this wonderful air condition?” They give me a silly frown, but I like to remind them to never take things for granted.  The truth is, when you begin writing down even the most fundamental things that you DO have, you begin to realize that you likely have enough to affect change towards the results you seek to achieve.

Tell Me What You DO Have

Margarita Rosario not only sings on our worship team, she develops leaders for our church!
Not only think of what resources you have, like a building, equipment, a name brand, but also think of what you can offer personally.  What you have IN YOU is AWESOME.  You forget how “fearfully and wonderfully made” you are! Remember: God made you, and He

doesn’t make junk!  Take time to describe your personality, your strengths, your gifts and skills you have learned.  If you are with your inner-circle team, go around the room and take time to acknowledge and remind every person their uniqueness and their value to the team.  This exercise is not meant not only to affirm the group; it is really meant to point to the powerful assets you have, that your team has.  
Mikeala Danchenko has found her niche in singing in her church
As we mature through life, we should begin zeroing in on the two or three key strengths we possess, much like different tools in our tool belt.  When you collaborate together with your team, and begin identifying the gifts and strengths of each person, you realize that you have an entire utility belt of tools to tackle the objective!

Tell Me What You See
When you look at your goals, are you looking at achieving your objectives straight on, from the same perspective? Are you simply doing the same tasks over and over, but not feeling like your getting traction? How about starting with a clean slate, allowing some new ideas, fresh thinking to happen in your mind.  Many times, I can be in problem-solving mode, or in the rut of managing the day to day tasks, that I turn off my heart and my mind.  Creativity is like a tool that must be used, it must be kept sharp.  Don’t forget to plan dreaming sessions and collaboration gatherings with key people.  This is not extra work, this is essential TO YOUR WORK.  Fresh thinking and different perspective is so needed in your mix to help inspire and keep thinking relevant.  Creativity is often sparked by people asking great questions, and then listening.  When I ask you “what do you see?”, do you see the obstacle, or the opportunity? Do you see pressure, or the potential?

Tell Me Why You Fear

Usually, the reason we are not willing to think creatively is that we fear failure.  Or, we fear getting in trouble by the leadership over us.  Or, we fear looking stupid (this makes me think of some of the art creations I made in elementary school - horrible 😃).  Indeed, all of these fears are viable, and are unavoidable.  But I am contending with you that you NEED CREATIVITY.  It is the missing ingredient that will give lift to your objective.  Creativity opens up your mind and widens your view to new possibilities.  Don’t let fear of failure choke your creativity.  Don’t let fear of displeasing your supervisor paralyze you to present a daring idea.  Don’t let fear of looking stupid hold you back from taking a calculated risk.  The truth is - people will applaud you for your courage to be creative!

Make an appointment this week with you and your inner-circle people/team to BE CREATIVE.  You will begin to see great results that will help you achieve the success you seek!