• Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Leading Others in the Most Important Things

    If you’ve ever had someone invest in your life by helping you grow spiritually, assisting you in navigating the treacherous places where the eternal intersects with the temporal then you know the absolute necessity of having these kinds of people apart of your life.

    As I look back on my life I’ve had a number of people who’ve invested in me spiritually, people with names like Neil, Wayne, Mark, Jack, Terry, and Steve. They’re all people who’ve cared for me and wanted to see me grow in the most important ways.

    So as one who received such investment, I’m motivated to do the same for others. It’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen to work for an organization like SpringHill, because SpringHill creates experiences that facilitate this kind of investment by adults in the lives of children. It’s also why one of the personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to possess to make an enduring impact on the lives of others through their work at SpringHill is what we call “Spiritual Leadership.”

    “Spiritual Leadership” is the ability to mentor others, to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and ultimately guide them to a life that honors God and expands His Kingdom. Spiritual leadership takes on many forms and can be expressed in many ways, from the ability to lead small groups, to one on one counseling, or teaching before large audiences. Even though the context of “Spiritual Leadership” may differ, the outcome is the same, helping others better live out their faith in Christ.

    This is why SpringHill needs people who demonstrate “Spiritual Leadership”, because it’s through spiritual leadership that our mission’s fulfilled and young lives transformed for eternity.

    This is part 8 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Being a People Centered Person

    A significant part of being a contributing member of a community dedicated to achieving something great and enduring is being able to see the world through the eyes of others. It’s the ability to relate to where others are at so to know what it’s like to “walk in another’s shoes.” In my last post I wrote about one of the essential personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to be successful at SpringHill is to be “Community Focused”, in other words, to be a team player.

    But to be truly “Community Focused” a person also needs to demonstrate a quality we call “Compassion and Sensitivity”. It’s a personal quality and professional competency necessary for a person to demonstrate if they’re to make a long-term impact at SpringHill. We believe it’s not just enough to be committed to the mission and vision of SpringHill but to be committed to the people who work for the mission, who support the mission, and those for whom the mission serves.

    A person who is compassionate and sensitive to others shows genuine concern for other’s welfare, sees and anticipates their needs, and seeks to build relationships with all kinds of people regardless of where they’re at spiritually, physically, intellectually, emotionally, or socio-economically. In other words, it’s being a person whose “people centered” that will find long-term success at SpringHill.

    But it’s important to see that being compassionate and sensitive looks different in different people. And it’s also important to avoid the common belief that compassion and sensitivity is a personality type. Instead it’s an attitude accompanied by observable behaviors, in other words, it’s something a person does.

    So we expect all our staff to demonstrate the qualities of “Compassion and Sensitivity” regardless of their personality, because it’s a necessary ingredient in being “Community Focused”, thus for making an enduring impact through their work at SpringHill.

    This is part 7 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Together Accomplishing Something Great and Enduring

    The greatest accomplishments the world has ever seen are the result of teamwork. Great institutions built, just wars won against incredible odds, and complex social problems solved because of communities of people who worked together to achieve something good, positive, and lasting. In every case these great accomplishments could not have happened through the work of a single person. True, a single person may have led the team, or been the public face, but behind that leader has always been people committed to seeing the work successfully completed.

    Even in my life, in the great accomplishments I’ve participated in, I’ve always been member of a community. Whether it’s teaming up with my wife Denise to raise our children, being a part of a winning sports team, or working for an effective organization like SpringHill, it’s always been the team, the community that has brought success.

    It’s this reality and the power of people working together to accomplish something significant and lasting that’s made it absolutely critical that SpringHill staff be great team players. It’s why being “Community Focused” is an essential personal quality and a key professional competency for staff who want to make an enduring impact at SpringHill.

    “Community Focused” people not only value being part of a team, they value the team’s success over their own. They acknowledge and thrive on the inter-dependency our work requires including valuing the God-given differences each person brings to the community.

    So whatever good and lasting thing SpringHill has ever done, or will ever do, will come through the team of people who’ve committed themselves, not only to SpringHill’s mission, vision and goals, but also to each other, working tirelessly as a team to see SpringHill accomplish the good work God’s given it to do.

    This is part 6 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Life is a Stool – Living in Balance

    My dad has always said that life sits on a 4 legged stool with one leg being work/career, another family, a third friends and service, a fourth being health and recreation, and the most important part of the stool, the seat, representing our faith. Dad says that for life to be in balance, for it to be the way it’s supposed to be we need all four legs and the seat. If we neglect or remove any part we’ve made balance nearly impossible and the entire stool, and our lives, become at risk of falling apart.

    I’ve always appreciated my dad’s way of looking at life, partly because it makes sense and partly because I’ve seen he and my mom live their lives in this way with the result being they’ve been blessed as well as having blessed those around them.

    It’s this life perspective and practice that we’ve discovered to be an essential quality of people who’ve made a long-term and an enduring impact on SpringHill’s mission. It’s what we simply call “Life/Work Balance”.

    Without this balance, life quickly crumbles and one’s ability to make an enduring impact quickly diminishes. When balance is gone health, influence and impact quickly leave as well, only to be backed filled with burn out, broken relationships, and poor judgment. Because like a stool, every part is essential and needs to be in working order or it will negatively impact the entire stool.

    So Life/Work Balance is absolutely essential for people to be at their best. And we want and need people to be at their best, whether it’s at home with their families, at church teaching Sunday school, or working at SpringHill.

    This is part 2 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    The September Whirlwind

    This has been the longest stretch I’ve had in three years between blog posts. I have no excuses except its September which means two things. First, September is when we transition out of our busiest season at SpringHill – summer – and move to catching up on all the things, both personal and at work, that didn’t get done during this busy season. Things like those pesky yard and house projects which I got started but now need to be finished before the snow flies.

    Second (and the real reason for my sporadic posting) I went on two fishing trips to northern Ontario, Canada (Camp Anjigami) this month (I know you don’t feel a bit sorry for me on this one and, frankly, you shouldn’t). One trip was with a large group of SpringHill friends and other was with long-time friends from college. Both trips were excellent, full of fishing, food and fellowship but not a lot of writing (or sleep for that matter).

    But I’m now back at it, thankful for the break, but also energized for the great fall ahead.

    So here’s a few of my take-a-ways from this September –

    • It’s always good to step away from regular routines or disciplines, even healthy ones like writing. Even a marathoner has a rest days.
    • There’s something very special about being with good friends in cool places, doing fun, adventurous activities. It always gives me a deeper appreciation for my friends and for my life.
    • Finally, going someplace and actually disconnecting from the world is incredible. Everyone should try it; it’s good for the soul.

    So yes, God willing, I’m back in the digital saddle again and looking forward to writing about the life ahead.

  • SpringHill Experiences,  Summer Camp

    Is it “Burger Island” or “the Island”?

    It’s the last week of summer camp and Sunday evening I indulged in my last meal at “the Island” or, as so many people now call it, “Burger Island”. As I sat there enjoying my burger (and brat), beans and great fellowship with our resident staff and volunteers, I couldn’t help but wonder “how did the name of this sacred place so inadvertently, so unintentionally (or maybe it was purposefully and maliciously) changed over the years?”

    It’s like the name of the White House slowing changing to the POTUS’ Crib, or The Rose Bowl becoming PAC 12 Field, or Saint Peter’s Basilica becoming simply Pete’s Crash Pad. Sacred and important places shouldn’t have their names change slowly over time without some forethought, right?

    (And yes, you can tell, it’s the last week of camp because I’ve drifted into thinking such “high level and strategic” thoughts, all of which will have serious implications for the future of …. uh, well, such things as t-shirts and property maps)

    So what’s a leader to do in such a situation? How does one undo years of slow creep? How does the popular name get change back to the right and proper title? Should nature take its course or should one fight to maintain what’s right? (OK, maybe I should be asking myself “why would a leader spend more than a minute on such things?”)

    My course of action? I’ll do what so often happens in leadership today – I’ll take a poll and find out what’s the most popular name for this sacred place, and then I’ll make that name the one I endorse.

    So tell me is it “The Island” or “Burger Island”?

  • Living as a Leader,  SpringHill Experiences

    Blessed to be a Blessing to Others


    The Northrop’s and the Van Hall’s standing in front of Colin Ridge

    I’ve been trying for nearly 5 days to write about this past weekend’s celebration and dedication of Colin Ridge, our new housing unit for campers with special needs at our Michigan camp. It’s been hard for me to find the right words to both describe the event and how I feel. So I’ve finally decided to share with you some of what I said during summer staff worship on Sunday. It provides a glimpse into this moving event.

    First if you don’t know the story of the Van Hall’s, the Northrop’s and SpringHill (at least told from my perspective) click here to get caught up. Then read below the spirit of what I shared with our staff.

    “SpringHill has a rich history of incredible stories where God has miraculously brought people and resources together to accomplish significant initiatives that He’s used to transform the lives of 1000’s of young people. But the story of Arvin and Darlene Van Hall and a camper named Colin Northrop and his family has become one of my favorite SpringHill stories because of how God has both included me in it and allowed me to see His guiding hand in it all….

    But it’s also one of my favorite stories because of the people God brought together to accomplish His work. You see the Van Hall’s and the Northrop’s do not see the material, relational and the spiritual blessings they’ve received from God as something to hoard or keep, or own. From the beginning of this story I’ve witnessed their desire to share the blessings of their lives with others.

    Arvin Van Hall and Joe Yahner in front of “the seed”, the piece of pipe that started this story.


    The Van Hall’s and the Northrop’s understand the spiritual reality and Biblical directive that we are blessed to bless others, and by doing do we multiply the blessings, and build God’s Kingdom.”

    And the result is we now have a housing unit that will allow us to provide, every year and for decades to come, 100’s of campers with special needs an opportunity to see, hear, and experience Jesus Christ in a life-transforming way. And there’s no better story to be a part of than this Great Story.

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Summer Camp

    When the News Hits Close to Home

    Last week 2 helicopters fly over the historic castle at Glen Eyrie every 30 seconds in an effort to contain the fire and protect this sacred place. (photo by Jack McQueeney)

    When a big catastrophe hits the news it can often seem distant and far away. But the recent fires in Colorado and in particular the fires around Colorado Springs are very close and personal. The reason is my close friend Jack McQueeney and the ministry he leads, the Navigator’s Glen Eyrie Group (which includes Eagle Lake camp and Glen Eyrie conference center), have been in midst of this horrific fire.

    Jack’s demonstrated great faith and courageous leadership during what he has said is the “worst thing that I’ve ever, ever, ever seen!” Please read and pray through his list of prayers below, though the fires contained they have much to do in recovery. Then consider doing two things that would bless Jack and his team.

    First, post this blog to your Facebook and encourage others to pray.

    Second, go to the Glen Eyrie Facebook page by clicking here and share words of encouragement and support.

    Shared Suffering, Shared Comfort

    Prayer Requests for Glen Eyrie, Eagle Lake, and the Navigator Family

    from Jack McQueeney, Executive Director, the Glen Eyrie Group

    ” . . . just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. . . [God] will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our

    –2 Corinthians 1:7, 10,11


    1. Pray for the 50 kids that received Christ during the first few weeks of camp, and for the more than 2,400 disappointed ones who wanted to be with us at Eagle Lake this summer. (We had to cancel our on-site camp season.)
    2. Pray for the morale of Eagle Lake summer staff who will be leaving for home and our displaced Glen Eyrie and Eagle Lake full-time staff.
    3. Pray for the seven Navigator staff families who have lost their homes. Dozens more are still evacuated.
    4. Thank the Lord for Focus on the Family who has provided temporary office space. Pray that our essential service staff team and the many others working from home would be able to take care of critical operations.
    5. Offer a prayer of thankfulness for the host families that took in our evacuated staff. They are feeding them, providing housing, and ministering to them.
    6. Pray that we would know how to be light and salt to others as we work through our own grief.
    7. Praise God for His hand upon our properties. So far it seems we have little structural damage but serious smoke issues.
    8. Pray for us to have wisdom, discernment, and the favor of God as we begin to look forward in hope towards the great amount of work before us.
    9. Pray that we would stand shoulder to shoulder through this and that God would continue to watch over and protect us. Isaiah 41:10
    10. Let’s continue to pray together for the men and women who are still battling this fire.

    Our trust is in the faithfulness and character of God. Psalm 145:3,4 says, “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.”

    We trust God to preserve the history of His work in this place from one generation to another, but we also recognize that He is doing something new. We resolutely continue to trust that Jesus is at work, and His plans are always for our good.

  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    Celebration and Dedication

    Jim and Kris Mestdagh, John and Marlene Boll

    This week we held a celebration and dedication for the recently renovated indoor pool at our Michigan camp. We invited everyone involved with the project, including staff, donors and the general contractors. It was a fun and inspiring afternoon.

    In the past we haven’t done a lot of these kinds of events and I’m not sure why. But over the last couple of years we’ve acknowledged, as an organization, the important role celebration plays in the life of an organization. So we’re trying to do a better job of finding reasons to celebrate, including celebrating and dedicating new or renovated buildings and activities at our camps.

    This effort to create a “culture of celebration” has led to my reflection on the question “what makes a great celebration?” Here’s my current answer:

    First, I believe, a celebration should be Christ centered, acknowledging the good things God has done or provided.

    Jenny Waugh and Ken Bailey from Rockford Construction

    Second, it should affirm those people God used to help these good things become realities.

    Finally, a celebration should inspire others to take part in God’s good work.

    But there was a second and equally important part of our afternoon and it was the dedication of the pool to God’s glory. An act of dedication reminds us that we’re stewards of something we don’t own. So in dedicating the pool to God, we symbolically gave back to Him what He’s entrust to our care, as if returning the master’s five talents with five more.

    So we all prayed, with hands joined together, that this pool building would be a useful tool in our work of helping young people see, hear and experience Jesus Christ in a life transforming way, and then celebrated His goodness which allows us the privilege to serve in such a way.

    Photography by Caitlin Crowley

  • Book Reviews,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Some Non-Fishing Insight from A River Runs Through It

    As I said in my earlier post, A River Runs Through It is one of my favorite stories, much of my love for it has to do with its observations about life not just its insight on fishing. So below I’ve pulled some of my favorite “non fishing” quotes. After your done reading them, even if you’re not a fisherman, you may want to read the entire story for yourself. It may stir your heart as it does mine.

    “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

    “Sunrise is the time to feel that you will be able to find out how to help somebody close to you who you think needs help even if he doesn’t think so. At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.”

    “Even the anatomy of a river was laid bare. Not far downstream was a dry channel where the river had run once, and part of the way to come to know a thing is through its death. But years ago I had known the river when it flowed through this now dry channel, so I could enliven its stony remains with the waters of memory.”

    “As the heat mirages on the river in front of me danced with and through each other. I could feel the patterns from my own life joining with them. It was here, while waiting for my brother, that I started this story, although, of course, at the time I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books.”

    “For all of us, though, it is much easier to read the waters of tragedy.”

    “‘Help’, he said, ‘is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly. So it is,’ he said, using an old homiletic transition, ‘that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed. It is like the auto-supply shop over town where they always say, ‘Sorry, we are just out of that part.’

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