Recently you Facebooked me and asked about Success University. Instead of a short answer, let me write in this blog, and let's call it, A Letter to My Nephew.
Years ago, when I was in Kansas, I wanted to coach/mentor some of my pastors. After hand-selecting seven guys, I invited them to spend one day a month with me. We called these meetings Success University. My plan was to spend six hours together--two hours on spiritual growth, two hours on personal development, and two hours on church growth. The materials that we used came from my years of reading and listening to CDs.
As word spread, more and more pastors wanted to participate, so in year two, 20 individuals joined. Results continued to be good. In year three, 40 pastors were a part of SU.
When I returned to the pastorate, I missed these coaching opportunities. I wondered if SU would have the same positive results on laypersons. I selected a dozen leaders of my church and watched as amazing things took place in their lives--things that were beyond anything that we could ask or imagine.
I took a group of 20-somethings through the same course. Again, life change happened.
Now that I am in the northeast, Success University is a big part of our effort to turn churches around. Three groups of pastors meet every month, and I am seeing outstanding change take place. I would hasten to add that SU is not for everyone. Attitude toward the process makes a big difference. Some get it; some don't! Some will embrace the process; some won't. What makes the difference? It's a mystery--a mystery of life.
I can hear you asking, "What do you study? What materials do you use?"
I have learned that what we study is not nearly as important as the process we go through. The first hour of each meeting we share stories of what has happened during the last 30 days in our homes, in our churches, and in our personal lives. Through peer pressure, we are held accountable for moving toward our goals (goals which we have set earlier in the year).
We discuss the balanced life--finances, health, education, spiritual, family, social and ministry. We discuss books that we are reading (some start reading for the first time since college). We go through leadership lessons by people like Maxwell, Warren, and Hybels. We discuss personal development concepts from motivational speakers like Rohn, Tracey and Waitley. We study church growth systems by Searcy. Most of all, we develop team spirit, encourage risk and provide an atmosphere of encouragement to our team mates in the battle. We provide a safe place where one can be real. Ben, it is the most exciting thing I do each month. As my team grows, I am fulfilled. Watching them succeed is more fun than succeeding myself.
I have watched others try similar programs that have not lasted as long or succeeded as well. My gut feeling is that too much emphasis is put on the material and not enough on the relationships. You cannot package love, passion, team spirit and accountability. That all comes from the heart--usually from the heart of a D.S., coach, or mentor. This key person--the heart and soul--intuitively understands that this is different from a denominational program that is neatly packaged and arrives in the mail.
Ben, there are lots of materials that would work in SU; however, there are few individuals who bring the experience, passion and love to a group. A coach/mentor is key! One of the things that I dream of doing in the years ahead is to find groups of young leaders like you, and spend a day a month pouring into their lives. My experience tells me that SU would impact the lives of the participants both now and throughout the next 50 years.
If you are really interested, get a group of like-minded individuals together--individuals who want to make a difference. Perhaps I could come and share what SU is and does. We could see where things go from there.
Still growing as a life coach,