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5 Things that Improve my Leadership

Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in Leadership

black-and-white-city-man-personI think one of the easiest things to do in life is to coast. In fact, there are many days in my life where coasting is my preference. I confess that I can be inherently lazy.

Why stretch myself if I don’t have to?

Yet the competitive spirit in me simply won’t let me settle. One day I’ll end this race. I want to end it well. So, when coasting seems like the preferred past time, I have to ask myself some hard questions. Typically my trend toward coasting is because I’m avoiding something difficult. Something that will stretch me.

Those are hard looks in the mirror. But critical looks if my desire is to grow.

I’ve led in and out of a variety of seasons in ministry over the past 15 years. I’ve learned a few things about myself that I’ve had to work hard to refine. In the past 12 months, here are 5 things I’ve taken a deeper look at in my life and what I can do to make them better:

  1. I’m a classic ENFP. I am typically a great starter but poor finisher. I get so excited on the front end of a project, but I reach a point where the project is as complete as I’m willing to make it. I have to hand it off. Tinkering is not my gift.
  2. I’m a creative with highly undisciplined rhythms. I read the term “procrastiworking” once and fell in love. It’s so true. I tend to stiff-arm structure. I have the tendency to think structure will restrict the freedom to create.
  3. I assume too much. I think others see what I see and know what I know therefore they arrive at the same conclusion to which I arrive. No sense in me repeating what’s already running through their mind.
  4. I under-communicate. I leave too much room for others to interpret my intentions. Most of the time I devalue my input in a situation. I figure enough people are speaking into it and that person (or group) doesn’t need to hear from me. Not too dissimilar to problem #4, I assume my voice holds less value than it does.
  5. I’m a hungry learner. Though a really good trait, I can consume more information than I can apply. Much of the time my intake far exceeds my output. If not filtered well, I can overwhelm myself with all that I want to begin, revamp or toss out.

You may not identify with all of these, but likely one or two resonate. There are a few things I’ve learned (and re-learned and re-learned and re-learned) that help avoid the pitfalls that come with these tendencies.

  1. Learn to Finish! There are times when I need to swing through to ensure a project has reached the point of completion. No matter how painful it might be. But surprisingly those projects are few and far between. My role as a leader is far less in the minutia. And that’s good considering that is not where I add the greatest value. There are people around me who’s minds work in the details brilliantly. I don’t need to muddy those waters. However, in the rare times that I do, I can’t afford to slough off the responsibility with the all-to-easy response, “It’s just not my strength.” Sometimes we just have to put our heads down and power through. The satisfaction on the other side is worth it.
  2. Structure Works! The hardest lesson for me to learn is to value structure. I can’t depend on inspiration to dictate creative flow. Structure actually creates greater opportunity for creativity. Assigning myself writing time, building time into my calendar to tackle big projects and creating space where I plan to be creative seems counter-intuitive. But I simply cannot deny structure creates the framework for creative production.
  3. Stop Assuming! My dad taught me the definition of assume a long time ago. 😉 I have to watch for moments where I assume more than I should. Doing so has helped me clarify more so my actions are based upon facts not incomplete information. This alone has made a huge difference in my leadership.
  4. Communicate More! There is no such thing as over-communicating. That’s an oxymoron. Much like assuming, the moments I’m most proud of are the times I choose to check in more frequently, text when it’s on my mind or make a follow up phone call just to make sure we’re all on the same page. For someone who could never be accused of micro-managing… this makes me better.
  5. Pace is Everything! My tendency to consume paired with a high-sense of urgency can create an unhealthy drive that isn’t sustainable. Not only will I struggle to keep up, but it provokes me to run further ahead than anyone can follow. I end up leaving my team far behind and yet wonder why no one is keeping pace. It’s critical that I learn to manage my seasons well and give myself permission to NOT apply everything I’m learning right now. In fact, I’m better when I prioritize and focus on fewer changes over longer periods of time. The result is sustainable shifts hard-wired in that don’t fly off the moment your ministry picks up the pace.

Time has played a major factor in learning these things about myself. The knowledge of them has been around for a long time. But the willingness and tools needed to address them hasn’t always been there. That comes over time.

What are some pitfalls you encounter in your leadership? What have you done to mitigate their impact?

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Adjust Your Lens

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Ministry

Over the past 4 weeks I’ve visited four different churches.  Each church dramatically different from the other in terms of environment, community, and worship style.  And yet there were consistencies that were very helpful/impactful to my first-time attending family.

Here are some notables from a few of the churches:

  • Directional Signage! Once we walked in the building it was obvious where to go to check in kids.  The signage was eye-catching and the check-in space easily accessible.
  • Security! It is obvious how much a kids ministry values security when they employ a nametag policy.  Only allowing access to certain areas of the kids space to those wearing parent receipts or volunteer nametags.
  • Environments! I’ve seen some spaces that look nothing like school, daycare or home.  I love seeing the many ways creativity is employed to make a space unique for kids.  Don’t forget to get on your knees and look at your space from their perspective.  What would you add… or change?

And a few things to check into:

  • Human Signage – In one church the layout was so odd that we walked down a hallway that wraps around the main auditorium.  We walked for a few minutes without encountering a person or open kids room.  I almost thought we were headed the wrong direction.  Some ‘Human Signage’ would have been highly beneficial.  A quick smile, friendly greeting, handshake or just general availability to assure us we’re headed in the right direction.  Many times we can’t do anything about our physical space.  So we find creative ways to accommodate.  Employing some of those volunteers that are natural “huggers and shakers” can go a long way toward resolving the quirky facility challenges.
  • Inviting Entries! Wish I could come up with better verbage for this, but it’s late.  :)  It boils down to asking yourself… are my rooms inviting from the threshold?  What entices a kid to want to enter the room?  What tells them that if they don’t cross that threshold, they’re missing something B-I-G?  I think I’m guilty of assuming that the fun things in my elementary space would entice any kid.  I’ve been reminded that if they can’t see it from where they stand on the other side of the door… they may never know what they’re missing.  It doesn’t have to be boisterous, or loud, or obnoxious.  In fact, it’s better if it isn’t.  It just has to be enticing.
  • Opportune Moments! One church we visited forced the parents to stand in the lobby while they’re child is called downstairs from the kids space.  Though the process was fairly efficient, they missed an opportunity to communicate in a unique way.  As the parents stood in line a flat screen television hanging on the wall in front of them sat completely blank.  What information regarding your ministry would you love to communicate in that 2-3 minute time frame?  Companies pay big bucks for a 30 second commercial before of a captive audience.  This church had 180 seconds.  Missed opportunity.

One of the best things to do for your ministry is to adjust your lens and view it from a completely different perspective… a new family perspective.  Put it on your calendar and make it a priority at least 2x a year.  Walk through your space… entrance to exit… and ask yourself, “If I were a new family, would I know where to go, what to do, or what to say?”

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