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Wednesday
Jul182018

Impossibility thinking

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, - Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)

God can do anything you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams - Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

He can do the impossible

He can do the unthinkable

He can do the unbelievable

He can do the unexpected

He can do the unusual

He is an awesome God

He is bigger than your issues  or your past or your perceived limitations.

God loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things.

Don’t go to your God and tell him how big your problems are; rather, go to your problems and tell them how big your God is.

Your current problems are not your real problem. Your real problem is not seeing God for who He really is!

How powerful He really is…

How sovereign He really is…

How wonderful He really is…

How loving He really is.

Every real problem we experience is due to a wrong concept of God. Is your God too small?

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way,  He works in ways we cannot see, he will make a way for me; He will be my guide, hold me closely to his side, With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way, he will make a way.

 From the Song “God will make a Way” by Don Moen

Tuesday
Jul172018

Ways to frustrate team members

Leaders should be about encouraging and motivating their team, not frustrating them. Intentionally or unintentionally here are seven of the quickest ways to frustrate a team member by Ron Edmondson.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

With every team or organization I have led there have been people who get frustrated with someone else on the team. In full disclosure, sometimes others have been frustrated with me.

Frustration is common among relationships. It happens within the healthiest of families – and the healthiest of teams. We certainly shouldn’t strive to frustrate others, but we shouldn’t be surprised when we do.

I have learned there are some actions, which can frustrate people faster than others. This might be a good time to do some self-reflection. As you read these, don’t be quick to think of others – although certainly there will be some of this too – but consider your own actions when you (or I) may frustrate people on your team.

Here are 7 of the quickest ways to frustrate another team member:

1.  Promising to do something and not following through.

One of the quickest ways to frustrate people is to make a commitment and then not do what was promised. People are depending on each other on a team. When one person “drops the ball” – especially consistently – it impacts everyone. The Scripture says it something like this: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” It’s better to commit to less and complete them than to take on assignments and never see them to the end.

2.  Saying one thing to one person and something different to another.

Healthy teams are built on trust. Trust is developed with time and consistency. No one likes a people-pleaser. This person is often popular for a time, but they lose favor as soon as they’re found out to be two-sided in their opinions.

3.  Never being serious.

This is the person who embarrasses you by making awkward comments and includes you in them like you are part of it. Teams should be fun, but this person makes everything a joke – and other people are often the brunt of them. They delay meetings with their constant antics. It can be funny for a while, but it wears thin quickly, as it begins to delay progress towards a goal.

4.  Having an excuse for everything.

This is the person who can’t complete the task, but doesn’t want to admit fault, so they blame it on something else – or someone else. They refuse to ever admit fault. There is always a reason. They actually may become frustrated with you if you dare challenge one of their excuses. They expect you to just keep believing them.

5.  Always having a trump story.

You know the type. You went on an exciting adventure – it was a great vacation – and the person who, often before you finish, has to share with you their vacation which was far better than yours. Or, what they accomplished at work is always far superior to what you accomplished. They can’t let anyone receive recognition grander than they receive.

6.  Complaining consistently.

You may be just as frustrated with things at work as everyone else, but the one person who always complains sucks even the slightest joy from the room. They sew negativity into the team and try to bring everyone down to the pit of despair with them. They don’t like the vision, the plan of action, or those charged with leading them. They are naysayers. They overreact to everything and blow it out of proportion. These people weigh heavily on the morale of the team.

7.  Only looking out for themselves.

This person really isn’t on the team, because the very definition of team involves shared progress towards a goal. They may be on the team by position, but in actions they are very much independent of others. They look out for themselves first. If they can take advantage of an opportunity – they will – even to the detriment of others.

Let’s build better teams!

Those are just some of the more frequent ones I’ve observed. Have you ever been frustrated by anyone on your team with one of these? Have you been the cause of any of these frustrations?

What are other frustrations you’ve seen people bring to a team?

 

Sunday
Jul152018

Characteristics of "A Players" you want to be and recruit

From time to time I’m asked what sort of things do those I coach struggle with and want help with. I generally say it falls into two categories:

1.  Personal organization and energy/time stewardship.

2.  Making good choices for the people they bring onto their teams to help accomplish the vision and goals.

Here is a process that can be followed that will enhance success and fruitfulness in any group, church or organization:

Why does the entity exist? What is it’s expressed purpose and reason for being?

Who do you need to be and who do you need to have around you to have the kind of team that will get the things done that honor the Lord?What qualities do the people you want need to possess?

What Exactly do you want to accomplish in the next 3 months, 6 months 12 moths?

How will these things get done? What is the specific action/plan to accomplish these things?

When will these things get done? Put a finish date in the calendar by which they will be finished and back up from there to decide what needs to happen each week prior to the finish date

The key in this process is finding the right people (who) that can accomplish things and execute consistently with excellence. I am in the middle of a book titled, “Who: The method for hiring." It’s a solid read with lots of good practical ideas on hiring the right people. The same principles would also apply in working with volunteers in the church or any not-for-profit organization that uses volunteers.

From the book, here is a list of competencies that  CEO’s  are saying characterize A players they want and need who will make things happen. 

The list is titled, “Critical Competencies for A Players.”

Rather then roll your eyes when reading this and saying no way Jose, look at the list prayerfully and pick one or two that you want to get better at personally, and keep in mind when bringing on new people as you challenge the people you currently have to grow and progress in one or more of these:

Efficiency

Honesty/Integrity

Organization and planning

Aggressiveness

Follow-through on commitments

Intelligence

Analytical skills

Attention to detail

Persistence

Proactivity

Ability to hire A players

Flexibility/Adaptability

Calm under pressure

Strategic thinking/visioning

Creative/Innovative

Enthusiasm

Work ethic

High standards

Listening skills

Openness to criticism and ideas

Communication

Teamwork

Persuasion

 

Saturday
Jul142018

Things "Pastors" don't like about their job!

There is no perfect job where you are head over heels in love with everything your job entails. In any and every job there are things you just don’t like to do, or are not very good at doing.

For pastors there are certain things they just don’t like about being a “Pastor.” Marcus Buckingham says that the goal with any job is to do what you can so that "The best of your job is the most of your job."  That what you are good at and like doing is where you are spending the lion’s share of your time.

Here from Chuck Lawless are things that many pastors don’t like about their jobs. You have some choices. Get better at some of these things. Delegate some of these things to others who would enjoy them more than you do. Find ways to minimize the amount of time you spend on things that steal your joy and eat your lunch.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

Wow. It was just a simple question, I thought: “Pastors, what two things do you like LEAST about your job?” The responses were quick and numerous, however. Responses ranged from “church discipline” to “mean people” to “social club mentality” to “completing paperwork.”

Here are the top twelve responses to this Facebook and Twitter survey:

Criticism and conflict. These pastors struggle when church members continually complain or foster conflict in the body.

Unrealistic expectations. Some pastors said they placed the expectations on themselves, but most felt they could not live up to expectations imposed by others.

Committees and administration. I don’t know many pastors who like these components, and the survey confirmed my experience.

Little family time. Evening appointments, holiday preaching schedules, and other commitments get in the way of family time.

Unreliable volunteers. Even when they make verbal commitments, church volunteers sometimes don’t come through.

Loneliness. I wish this one weren’t on the list, but it’s there. Pastors still feel isolated and friendless.

Business meetings. This was not a surprise (though I thought it might be higher on the list). For some pastors, a business meeting always carries the potential for conflict.  

Power families. Families that seemingly control and “own” the church frustrate pastors who want to lead.

Member apathy. Comfortable church folks who don’t want to change — whether it’s buying into a new vision, desiring discipleship, deepening their faith, or adopting a new worship style – lead to pastoral anguish.

Broken homes. Pastors grieve when members make sinful decisions that cost them their home. 

Hypocrisy. No church leaders are pleased to see members say one thing, but live another way. 

Budgets. Preparing budgets is time-consuming work, and worrying about living up to them can be mind and heart consuming.

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Jul122018

The leader who can execute

I remember it very clearly. The meeting had ended--one more in a long string of meetings to discuss essentially the same issue; but I did not forget the lesson I learned. Two of my leaders, higher up the organizational food chain, approached me from either side of the conference table--one, then the other.

Independently of each other, with no prior coordination or plan of attack, they both said to me, in essence: “Dave, you’re going to have to learn to live with ambiguity.” My first reaction was: “Why would anybody in their right mind want/choose to opt for ambiguity?”

Since that meeting I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many leaders who would not only be okay with ambiguity but would push or vote for it. I’ve seen many similar situations where there was discussion ad “infinauseum” with no decision, no plan of action, no execution but, rather, a plea for more meetings, more time, more information before we could move ahead.

Now, let me get one thing straighT. I, as a leader, am not adverse to taking the time necessary to think carefully through an issue to make sure we have all the pertinent information before moving ahead with a plan for getting it done.

What I have struggled with though, and have a strong aversion to, in various teams or groups I’ve worked with, is the inability or fear of moving ahead and executing--the proverbial paralysis of analysis. Sometimes the biggest risk is not taking any risks!

In his excellent book, “Winning,” former GE CEO Jack Welch shares four essential characteristics of a leader 

  1. Energy
  2. Energizes others
  3. Edge (by this Welch means the courage to made the tough yes-or-no decisions)
  4. Execute

It is number four, “Execute” that we’re discussing today. 

Let me put “execute” in context for us. In any undertaking, you should begin with an agreed-upon vision or sense of direction--whether you are talking about a family, a small group, a church, a ministry or a Fortune 500 company. Where do we want to go with this? Why are we doing it? What do we see out there in the future? What difference will it make for eternity if it really happens as we envision it? From the vision we develop a strategic plan, which deals with:

  1. Who?
  2. Does what?
  3. By When?
  4. How will we follow up?

Then you go to work and begin to “execute.” There is no substitute for just getting things done. I confess that I am tired of endless discussions with no action, dreams with no plans, lofty and admirable ideas that never result in concrete, practical steps. Great ideas need to have both wings and landing gear. A good team will always have a balanced combination of dreamers and implementers, and perhaps often they will be at odds with each other.

The dreamers will want more information and the implementers will want to get the plane in the air. I am definitely in the “let’s-get-the- plane-in-the-air-before-Jesus-comes” camp. Let’s move on it before the idea becomes obsolete. No, it’s not perfectly thought through, but it is thought through enough to launch it and work out the bugs as we go. It was leadership guru John Maxwell who said, “If you did something perfectly the first time you did it, you waited too long to start.”

My questions, after a certain amount of discussion, are: So, do we want to do anything with this? Is this just an idea exchange or are we discussing it with the purpose of acting on it? Can anyone think of some good reason(s) why we shouldn’t put this idea into play pretty soon? 

My experience, after 50 years in ministry, is that when all is said and done, a lot more is said than done! In any team I find myself on I will more than likely be the one who pushes to execute and put feet on the ideas we are discussing after a reasonable (in my mind) amount of time.

I don’t think there is any substitute in a leader’s portfolio of character traits like being able to deliver and get the job done after the homework and thinking has taken place.  There is always a high premium on the ability to get things done. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject of delivering and finishing the task or job. As one astute writer said, There are only two responses: results or excuses.

The excuses are myriad: “It’s on my do list (that generally doesn’t encourage me. It could be on a do list for years!); Well, I was going to get to it this week, but I sort of got off track; I am a bit behind due to some things beyond my control; Well, I would have had it done, and had every intention of completing it, but some other people didn’t come through so I was unable to finish it; I had some personal issues come up which set me behind emotionally. Yada, yada, yada. 

As one frustrated boss put it, “Don’t tell me about the labor pains, show me the baby!” Sorry if I have offended you ladies, but you get the point. We, at times, have good intentions, but don’t get started or don’t finish what we start.  Loose ends are all over the place and never get tied together. 

Why would leaders not execute, not get moving on something, not finish what was assigned to him?  Here are a few reasons which come to mind: 

  1. Lack of personal organization and an effective planning method
  2. Too many responsibilities on their plate, leading to a sense of being overwhelmed
  3. Flat out lazy
  4. Fear of making a mistake or not meeting the desired expectation
  5. Poor communication and lack of clarity on what was to be done and by whom
  6. Poor role fit leading to little or no motivation

Each of these possible explanations needs to be dealt with and resolved in order to be productive and bring honor to the Lord.

So, here’s a toast to Nike who, since 1988, has encouraged us to “Just Do It.” Don’t think about it more… Don’t promise to do it one of these days…Don’t make excuses for not getting it done (or even started!)…or, Don’t wait until you can do it perfectly.  “Just Do It”…Now, rather than later!