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Why I make Q a priority every year

Because it is as true today as ever, I am re-posting what I posted last year about the Q conference (with a few necessary changes).

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One theme seems to be permeating our culture more and more today – we are busy.  Just ask someone, “How are you,” and you’ll probably find out that, among other things, they are “busy.” Or maybe they are “super busy.” Despite my many efforts to slow down, my life unfortunately is no exception to the tyranny of busyness.

So with all of the “noise” in this world competing for my time, energy, resources, and attention, why am I spending three days next week in Nashville at Q? What makes a conference identified by only a letter and describing itself as “a place for Christian leaders from every channel of society to become informed by and influential in the lives of one another” so special? With the thousands of conferences that I could attend each year, why do I make attending the Q conference a priority year after year?

Three reasons:

  • q-interviewQ inspires and challenges me to think deeper and better about myriad topics, some that I think about every day and others that I’ve never thought about before. The wide range of excellent speakers and experiences on topics from all areas of society, some of whom and which I strongly agree with and some of whom and which I vehemently disagree (and everywhere in between) with, stretch me to step out of my comfort zone, see the world from different perspectives, and engage in our world in different ways.  (I also love the 3, 9, and 18 minute time limits on the talks : ))
  • Q equips me to to be a better and more well-rounded organizational and thought leader through its speakers and conversations with like-minded innovators, church leaders, social entrepreneurs, and cultural pioneers.
  • Q collaborationQ is a hotbed for collaboration . . . from its intentional smaller number of participants with a common passion for advancing the common good, to intentional small-group reflection times, to small Q&As with speakers, to its “Experiences” and “Learning Communities”, Q provides an environment ripe for collaboration with people and organizations inside and outside my normal sphere of influence and involvement. It provides a rich environment to share ideas and opportunities with each other. Over the past couple years alone, my conversations at Q have resulted in meeting co-authors that have joined me on a collaborative book project, In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence, which released this week (one of those co-authors coincidentally is leading a “Learning Community” this year at Q talking about the perils of “Mission Drift”).

And Q offers much more beyond these things . . .

It’s not too late to join me and a few hundred other leaders at Q Nashville next week, April 23-25.  You can get more information and register at qnashville.qideas.org.

As the Q website so eloquently and succinctly has put it, if you join me there, you will engage in “an intense experience meant to expose, engage, shock, and deepen your awareness of current realities and opportunities.”

I hope you join me because it won’t be the same without you.

End It!

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Over the past few days, you’ve probably seen a bunch of red X’s on the Internet and on people’s hands in your circles. And you’ve also probably seen a lot of posts on social media talking about ending “It.” What is “It”? What do we want to end?

In case you don’t know what they’re all about, they are part of the End It Movement, and the “It” is the tragic practice of slavery that plagues our world today more than it has ever plagued our world in history. It needs to stop and we are a part of the solution (whether we know or think it, or not). Ending it starts with knowing about it, which is why I want to share with you a post that I published last year about how Abolition begins with Awareness (with a few updates and minor changes). I invite you to read it . . . and then do something with excellence to bring about the end of slavery!

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In anything, we can’t meaningfully fight against an injustice unless we are aware that it exists. Then, after awareness, we need to educate ourselves on the tragedy and care about ridding the Earth of it. Once we care about fighting against it, we are ruined in a beautiful way because we absolutely have to do something to fight against the injustice. The horrible injustice known as human trafficking is no different.

If you aren’t aware of the slavery and human trafficking our world today and aren’t already fighting against the tragedies in some meaningful way, I hope that you take some time to acquaint yourself with the epidemic that plagues tens of millions of babies, children, and adults on Earth today more than it ever has in our Earth’s history. (The video below and these statistics (bit.ly/Vsfjk4) provide a bit of education in this area, though it is very difficult to get accurate figures given the nature of the crimes.) Then, I hope that you are brought to care about eradicating the world of the tragedy on your way to helping the fight against it. (At the end of this post are few great organizations with which you can get involved if you want to fight against trafficking, both on the prevention and intervention sides.)

My story involves simply becoming aware of human trafficking by reading a book discussing the practice, “Good News About Injustice,” by Gary Haugen, when I was comfortable practicing law in a firm in Sacramento. That book got me to care and I was forced to do something about it.

So I started looking into how I could fight against it with my legal skills and Haugen’s organization, International Justice Mission, seemed to be a natural fit. That wasn’t to be, but in the process I researched human trafficking and found that orphans are commonly the victims of the epidemic because they don’t have anyone to advocate for them. That caused me to look into the prevention side of the fight against human trafficking – that is, how to prevent the orphans and other children from being forced or tricked into the terrible industry.

There is a whole lot more to the story, but the short of it is that my quest for a fit for an organization fighting to prevent orphans and at-risk children from the ills of trafficking led me to Providence World (providenceworld.com). How is Providence fighting human trafficking? By working to inspire and equip others to raise orphans and at-risk children in families, with high-level education, medical care, nutrition, spiritual formation, and everything else they need, so that they can become societal leaders rather than being susceptible to traffickers.  We have taken the lessons we’ve learned, along with lessons learned from other collaborating organizations, and have written a collaborative, 15-author book, In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence: My Kids, Your Kids, Our Kids (release date in April), on what best practices and excellence in orphan care communities looks like all around the world (as well as how everyone can be involved in loving orphans and at-risk communities well). We hope that through excellent orphan care, less children will be trafficked and there therefore will be less need for intervention in the future.

So how can you get involved beyond awareness? If you care about fighting against trafficking on the prevention side, get involved with orphan and at-risk care with Providence or another great orphan care organization such as New Hope Uganda, Lifesong for Orphans, Hope International, World Orphans, The Hands and Feet Project, Show Hope, Arrow Ministries, Casa Viva, America World Adoption Association, Child Hope International, Heartline Ministries, Bethany Christian Services, Faith to Action Initiative, Village of Hope Uganda, Buckner International, Vision Trust, Help One Now, Cherish Uganda, Asia’s Hope, to name a few of my friends and collaborators working with excellence (definitely not an exhaustive list).  Also, the Christian Alliance for Orphans website is a great place to start if you have never looked into orphan care and want to see the landscape of quality orphan care (christianalliancefororphans.org).

However, the reality is that there is still a HUGE need for intervention today.  There is a huge need for people to uncover the trafficking operations, rescue and provide aftercare for trafficking victims, and prosecute the offenders.  There also is a huge need to fund and pray for such operations.  Every one of you can do at least one of those things. If you feel led to fight on the intervention side, there are some great organizations on the front lines of the war on trafficking that would love to have you join their army.  Ones that I respect very much are the aforementioned International Justice Mission, The Not-for-Sale Campaign, Run for Courage, and Courage House.

If you haven’t already, start today to do something with excellence to End It! I’d love for you to leave a comment on how you’re working or plan to work to end slavery in our world today!

What’s the point of blogging?

IMG_5754While I was taking my sabbatical from blogging and other writing projects this summer, I had some time to think about an important question, “What’s the point of blogging?”

More specifically, “Why the heck do I blog when there are a million other things I could do with my time?”

Here are some of the reasons I’ve heard others give for doing it (definitely not an exhaustive list):

  • Building a “platform”
  • Want to share expertise and information
  • Trying out writing styles and content for future books and articles
  • Bored and looking for something to do

Because none of these reasons will motivate me to continue doing it long-term, either because they don’t apply to me at all or they aren’t that important to me (I’ll let you figure out which is which), I continued to seek a reason to continue blogging other than the fact that I really enjoy doing it.

Then I remembered something Becca said when I was frustrated about the low number of readers and comments a few weeks after I started blogging (for the wrong reasons) last year.

“Phil, don’t blog for anyone else or write something because just because someone said that you’re ‘supposed to.’  Just write what God puts on your heart so that our kids can someday read about what their daddy was thinking and going through when they were young.”

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Now that’s motivation!

And her encouragement also provides a great filter for all posts because I only want to write reflections of what is actually going on in my life and mind (wouldn’t want to mislead my kids when they’re older : )).

While I know that God has used and will continue to use my posts to help others in various ways whether I have 1 or 1 million readers, that’s not why I blog.  I’m simply not that important and God can use millions of other people to do the same thing.

But my role in my kids’ lives is different . . . So, I will continue to blog with honesty, vulnerability, and passion for my kids and their future families.

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That’s something that will keep me writing.

Drew’s Deep Thoughts & Questions – Volume 14

DeepThoughts1) Drew (5/13 – age 10) (waiting for me to finish something before asking a question, bored and hitting my butt with his fist): “Dad, you got a brick in there or something?”

Needless to say, he made the day of this 38 year old who is trying to stay in shape. : )

Source: Thegreenj

Source: Thegreenj

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2) Kirsten (4/13 – age 4) (super excited about her little brother, who was running around in the morning wearing just his diaper) – “Daddy, Justin is a big boy now.”

Daddy: “Why do you say that?”

Kirsten: “Because he sleeps in just his underwear, just like you and Drew.”

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3)  Drew (7/10 – age 7) (after the GPS took us to the wrong location (unbeknownst to him it was because I inputted the wrong destination)): “Dad, why do you use that?  The lady thing is always wrong.”

Drew’s Deep Thoughts & Questions – Volume 13

DeepThoughts(1) Kirsten (4/25/13 – age 4): “I want to be a famous baker.  Or a famous eater.”  (yep, she’s my girl)

(2) Drew (Jan. 2010 – age 6): “How could a mommy and daddy have a baby before they are married?”  (try answering that loaded, multi-faceted question to a six-year-old boy)

(3) Drew (Feb. 2010 – age 7):  During devotional, when asked the question, “How is Paul like your parents?,” Drew answered, “Paul is not even close to you guys!” (talking to Becca and me).

So of course I (Phil) asked how Paul is different from us.  He proceeded to look at me with exasperation and respond, “Well, he didn’t marry mom, and he is way old — like from the 1980’s.”

When questioned about the date, he corrected himself and said, “Oh yeah, I mean the 1880’s.”