Talented People are Hurting You

When we first launched our campus we had (and still do) some of the most talented, “do whatever it takes”, mission-driven people on our team. So as we were learning how to setup and tear down church in a high school, run sound, do children’s ministry, create a guest experience, etc they just figure out how to do it.

While we are constantly trying to get better there are still some things we do more than 3.5 years later because someone in the early days just figured out a way to do it.

What we ran into pretty quickly was the fact that those people couldn’t realistically be there every Sunday. So when our volunteer team became a rotation of 1 week on, 1 week off, and then later 1 week on, 2 weeks off, we found some holes.

We didn’t have systems we just had really talented people.

I’m not saying that having great and talented people is a bad thing. I’m just saying that when you do, sometimes you get lazy in creating systems needed for longterm success.

We developed a phrase that we say pretty often in our evaluation:

“Is that a system or is it a personality?”

An example of a system is that we color coded every cord that plugs into the sound board and every cord that plugs into the “snake” (that’s the box where all your cords plug into on the stage so you can control the sound in another part of the room). Then above each spot where a cord was plugged in on both ends there is a corresponding colored piece of tape. Red plugs into red, blue plugs into blue…you get the idea. That’s a system. It was created because for several months the only person who knew where everything was plugged up was Darryl. And then something terrible happened…Darryl scheduled a vacation and had to miss church!

I’m only partially kidding. The reality was that Darryl is good with systems. So he anticipated being out and created a system that people could use when he was gone and he trained people how to do his job.

An example of a “personality” is that in our kids rooms when it was time to tear down, one of our workers would always pack up all the toys first into the bins. Then they would pack up all the supplies. Then they would help put away the pipe and drape. Another volunteer liked to pack up the room by location. All the toys and supplies around the changing table would go in one bin. Then all the toys and supplies by the craft table would go in another bin. This may not sound like a problem until one week a volunteer is looking for the crayons for crafts and can’t figure out which bin it’s in.

So we created a system. Every bin got a label. On the inside lid of the bin was a list of the items that went in that bin with a picture of what it looked like fully loaded.

Then every bin in the children’s hall was numbered and a diagram was placed in the truck showing where each numbered box goes. That way when anybody was loading the 24 foot box truck that carries all of our kids stuff they didn’t have to play Tetris with the boxes trying to fit them all in. They just had to put bin #1 in the square assigned to bin #1 and so on.

We don’t have it all figured out, but I bet if you looked around your church, organization, family, business or team you will see that you rely a lot more on personalities than you realize and maybe a little less on systems than you’d like.

The easiest way to evaluate is to ask this question:

“If (insert the name of a volunteer or employee) was out next week could someone else step in and do that job well the way our customers/attenders/employees are used to it being done?”

If the answer is no you have a personality. If the answer is yes you have a system.

Create systems and watch your efficiency and the multiplication of your team go through the roof.

Happy hunting!

Community

It’s been said “You are what you eat.” I’m not entirely sure I understand that quote since I eat Mexican food about 4 times a week and my Spanish is still lacking considerably.

I recently ran across this quote though

“You are who you hang out with.” – unknown

This one I can wrap my mind around. I’ve watching in my life and the lives of others the truth of this statement become the reality.

Relationships are so important for all of us. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between the relationships we have help shape our identity, experiences, and often our self-worth.

In a different context we read in Genesis 2:18 where God said

“It is not good for man to be alone…”

It is with that in mind that I challenged our campus on Sunday related to community and the church. Intentionally connecting our lives to one another. The primary arm of our church to do this is Life Groups. These are groups of approximately 12 people meeting in homes and businesses throughout the community, usually 1 or more times a month.

However, my purpose in writing this is not to get you to sign up for Life Groups at our church. I wonder how you view your life. Do you view it through the lens of individuality or in the context of others?

I said it this way Sunday:

Because we know the names Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, David, Esther, Nehemiah, Jesus, Peter, Paul, Timothy and John we may assume that God is into the stories of individuals…and He is.

But we forget that Adam’s story was incomplete without Eve.

Noah’s story wasn’t about solitude but about his family being saved on that boat

Abraham’s covenant with God was about generations of people

Joseph’s dream was about the salvation of his family and his people

Moses led millions of people out of captivity

Joshua led their kids into the promise

Rahab overcame her reputation by saving Israeli spies

David ruled a nation by rallying an army of outcasts

Esther was chosen for the palace to speak on behalf of her people who had to remain silent

Nehemiah rebuilt a wall to protect his people from their enemies

Jesus recruited 12 disciples

Peter received a vision and took the Gospel to the Gentiles

Paul planted churches filled with people across the known world

Timothy was his protege

John received a vision so people would know about the future

Every story in Scripture has similar qualities. It’s all about community.

Because we talk in the church about your personal relationship with God you may think God is only concerned with individuals…but we forget that your story is about others too.

What would happen if you expanded your thoughts beyond “What is happening to me?” to “How can what’s happening to me help someone else?”

You were created for community. Take the risk. Find people to do life with.

If you’d like to hear Sunday’s message click HERE.

 

Can you Count?

When each of my kids were learning to count they would mess up. I remember Tucker always skipped 15. Every single time it was 12, 13, 14, 16…It was funny to me, and frustrating at times, but it reminds me of a leadership principle.

I was at a conference a few years ago and Pastor Chris Hodges made this statement.

“If you don’t know what you want to do you can’t measure it. If you can’t measure it you don’t know if you’ve done it.”

What are you counting in your life? In your church? In your business?

His quote obviously stretches beyond counting. It’s about goals. It’s about success. It’s about…well…a lot of things.

But for this purpose I want to talk about counting.

In churches we’ve often stuck to counting “nickels and noses.” How many people attended and what was the offering? We even had wooden boards hanging in the front of our sanctuaries in days gone by showing us those totals. Then they were placed in permanent ink in our church bulletins. It told a story, but I’m not sure it told the whole story.

Recently churches have been very intentional to count some other things. At our church, for example, we count things like salvations, baptisms, people in Life Groups, people serving in a ministry, first time guests, and more.

If you aren’t in the church your business may count sales, expenses, ROI, customer acquisition costs, etc.

No matter what you’re counting here are 3 principles that guide me in counting as a leader.

1) Never exaggerate!

Let me be clear…NEVER! I realize that if you have 24 you want to say “nearly 25.” Don’t do that. I used to do that and it had unintended consequences. First, I lost credibility with people who knew what the actual numbers were. They may have started wondering what other areas of my life I exaggerated. Second, it robbed me of the joy in future success. If we have 40 kids in our youth group on a Wednesday night but we we had a lock-in with 80 one time so we tell everyone we are a youth group of 80…guess what?!? When we actually get 80 kids on Wednesday night the feeling isn’t quite as sweet as it could be. Instead of celebrating a huge milestone we have to push the exaggeration further down the road to keep up with the pace of our exaggeration.

Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

2) Count accurately or get someone who can.

Don’t count the 25 cars and multiply by 4 and say you had 100 people. Count the actual people. Don’t count the pregnant lady as 2 people since she is carrying a human. Just count her as 1 and pray she has surprise triplets to grow your children’s ministry. Don’t double count volunteers in 2 services. If you have someone else who counts make sure to let them off the hook from your expectations. Don’t cause them to fudge the numbers because every time they give you negative information you get angry. Or because you are constantly griping about something. Tell them you want to know the numbers..good, bad, and ugly.

3) Count everything.

No number is too small not to be included. Don’t just count the attendance. Count the guests. Don’t just total the kids up, count the nursery and grade school separately. Don’t just count the total of the offering, count how much was cash, checks and online.

You will have to make leadership decisions in the future that will be much easier if you have a set of records that lets you know the numbers and the trends. If you don’t count, you just have to guess.

 

There are several more things I could include, but this is a great place to start. If you don’t exaggerate, count accurately, and count everything you’ll understand where you really are. Then you can put the rest of Pastor Hodges’ quote into action…but we’ll talk about that another time.

I Have a Book for You

I don’t know if you know this or not, but I wrote a book.

3839_85205156363_22529_n

 

As I was driving into work today I got a text from a friend with this picture from the book letting me know they appreciated the thoughts I shared. It was a reminder of the incredible journey God has me on and how He has used it to help others.

book excerpt

The book is written as a Leadership Fable based on the life of David from Scripture, with the first part of the book being a fictional baseball story and the 2nd part of the book unpacking the timeless truths for each of our lives. I believe the principles can help everyone. Here’s what is written on the back cover:

We’ve bought into The Lie! It’s a lie that has been around longer than Christianity has existed. It is the idea that God requires talent, intellect, looks, charm, skillful communication ability and the like before He will choose us for service. So we disqualify ourselves on a criteria that doesn’t exist. Others believe the press clippings and agree to be considered because of their good merits. David had these choices. He could have allowed himself to be defined by his greatest achievement with Goliath or his worst mistake with Bathsheba. Instead his life is more clearly defined by the sum total of his ordinary days. So it is with you and me! We just want a chance. We are people who strive for pinnacle moments and avoid pitfall moments to stay worthy enough to be used. We are people wanting a chance to do something great but not knowing how to find greatness in all of the ordinary… In Jeremy Isaacs’ first book he challenges these ideas and encourages us to find our own greatness in the ordinary.

The life of David is often characterized by his highest high and his lowest low. The day he killed Goliath and the series of events surrounding his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. However, just like you and I, David’s life is far greater than 2 isolated instances. We learn so much about him from the other days of his life. My hope is that as you read the book you will be encouraged to reevaluate your life and to reconsider how you judge others.

I remember sitting in a coffee shop near my house early in the mornings and late in the evenings writing the words that now fill the pages and asking God to place this book into the hands of those who needed to hear this message.

To continue getting the book into more hands I’m running a sale this week. You can purchase directly through me for $10 plus shipping by filling out the form below. If you buy 2 books we’ll throw in a 3rd for free for you to give to a friend. You will get an email link to complete the transaction and make payment.

Thanks for taking the time to read the post, and I hope that you’ll consider ordering the book. I believe it will help you jump some hurdles you’ve continued to get tripped on for a while.