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Tuesday
Feb282017

Honestly, are you overwhelmed, over-capacity and over-committed?

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Hardly a week goes by without me having a personal conversation, or an email discussion, with a leader who feels like he’s lying on the beach getting hit in the face with wave after wave, never being able to catch his breath.  Busy has become tired, has become exhaustion, has become “I’m not sure I can keep doing this for very much longer.” 

If we paced ourselves better, would we need to take a month to three months every few years to recuperate?

In some of these conversations, I’ve mentioned a new book coming out in late September with the title “Crazy Busy” by Kevin De Young. You know something is not quite right when an author can write a whole book on this subject. Obviously the author and the publisher believe this will resonate with a lot of people, in general, and with leaders, in particular.

Many of us are super freaking busy, slammed most of the time and chasing our own tail in the traffic of life and there doesn’t seem to be any letup in sight. We are in the cage with the rats and it’s spinning faster and faster. We are on the merry-go-round and it’s going at such a speed that jumping off can get us seriously hurt!

Here are ten things that (by His grace) I try to keep in mind and practice regularly to avoid become a casualty:

  1. Plan each day with margin instead of filling each day so full that there is hardly white space anywhere on the page.
  2. Continually ask myself, what are the most important things I should be working on right now?
  3. Practice saying no to lots of things so I can say yes to a few things.
  4. Stop feeling like I have to apologize, explain or feel guilty for telling somebody no to a request.
  5. Keep my purpose and vision in mind as a filter, blueprint and guideline in deciding what to do or not do.
  6. Ask when somebody needs an answer in order to buy time to think, pray and consult with others before making a commitment to do something or be somewhere.
  7. Ask others for help with the things that I am not especially good at or like to do. I know it sounds strange that there may be people who love to do what I hate to do, but it is nonetheless true.
  8. Remember that He is “Lord of the harvest” ~Matthew 9:38~ (the end results) and I’m not. Taking on that role will wear me down and wear me out faster than anything else I know.
  9. Create finish lines for each day when I will intentionally shut down my computer and power off my cell phone and only do those things that will replenish, refill, relax and refurbish my soul. All work and no play may not only make Jack a dull boy but a dead boy if not careful.
  10. Keep in mind that the need is not the call and that there is a difference between what I’m concerned about and what I’m responsible for. I can be concerned about an issue without assuming personal responsibility to do anything about it. I am concerned about taxes, hunger, poverty, orphans and war, but have no plans to personally attack any of these issues and make these issues a part of what I give substantial amounts of time, energy or money toward (whereas others might).

I don’t have the emotional, physical or mental capacity to get involved in every concern or issue I am aware of, but need to focus on my vision, calling and gifts. I need wisdom and courage to stay focused on a few things and not spread myself too thin, becoming perennially sick and exhausted and not being of much good to Jesus or anyone else.

Saturday
Feb252017

Ten things pastors can do to become "Good Bosses." 

A few days ago I posted an article by Thom Rainer on ten things pastors do to become “Bad Bosses.”

If that discouraged you bit, and you were ready to hand in your “Boss Badge,” here are ten things that pastors can do to become “Good Bosses;" if you are willing to work at it as you are led by Him, empowered by Him and seek to honor Him!

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

“There is no other person I would rather work for.”

“I enjoy my work and ministry so much, and the biggest reason is I serve under an incredible pastor.”

“My pastor rocks.”

Those are some of the laudatory comments we heard from church staff persons who serve under excellent pastors. In my previous post, I shared the top ten ways pastors can be bad bosses. In this article, I look at the positive perspective.

Here are the most frequent comments we heard from church staff. These are ten ways pastors can be great bosses.

1.  Cast a clear vision and path. “You have no doubt where he is leading our church and us. He is clear, articulate, and his vision is compelling.”

2.  Support other ministries. “As a children’s minister, I have served in churches where the pastor never says anything about our area. My pastor, though, is always lifting up my ministry and other ministries.”

3.  Create a fun atmosphere. “Those who serve on staff in local churches face many serious and challenging issues. I love the way our pastor encourages us to have fun and enjoy our work. I love the way he jokes around with us.”

4.  Provide a good role model and example. “Whether it’s work ethic or character issues, my pastor serves as an excellent role model. Even when I disagree with him, I never question his integrity or commitment.”

5.  Be decisive. “This pastor is the first I ever served under who does not hesitate to make a decision, even if it’s a tough decision. We are never left wondering if or when something will happen.”

6.  Include other staff as part of the team. “We have different responsibilities and ministries among our staff, but our pastor makes certain we see the big picture. He really helps us to feel like we are part of the team.”

7.  Have the back of your staff. “I knew what kind of boss I had the first time a cantankerous church member read him the riot act about me. My pastor let the church member know he supported me and respected me. I will never forget that.”

8.  Listen well. “He is really a rare leader. You know when you go to talk to him about something you have his full attention. He not only listens, he responds very well.”

9.  Support the staff member’s family. “I don’t know how he found out about our financial struggles. But my husband and I cried openly when he quietly gave us a check from funds he had collected from church members. I suspect he contributed a lot himself.”

10.  Communicate frequently and clearly. “Most leaders, pastors included, never communicate enough. That is not the case with my boss. We are always in the know. He actually worries about over-communication. I love it!”

 

 

 

Thursday
Feb232017

Valuable lessons from the names of Joseph's two sons.

Genesis 41:51 & 52 (ESV):

"Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh for he said God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house. The name of the second he called Ephraim, for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."

Jesus, forgetting and fruitful…they go hand in hand. To be able to move into the future, I need to let go of the past, both bad and good. I am not aware of anything from my past that is preventing me from going forward into a fruitful future. If there is, please show me what it is so I can be released from it.

Use the past as a guide-post, not a hitching post. Your past is just that…your past. Learn from it, thank the sovereign God for it, but don’t be a slave to it. There are both good things and not so good things in your past. If you continue to dwell on either of them, it keeps you from focusing on the present and planning for the future. Your past may describe you, but it need not define you.

Paul makes an interesting observation in Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV):

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is sharing an amazing insight, that in order to move ahead toward all that Jesus has for him, he must let go of the past. Forgetting does not mean you no longer remember, but rather than you choose not to dwell on or inordinately focus on the past.

In the naming of his sons, I see Joseph doing essentially the same thing:

  1. Manasseh…for God has made me forget my hardship and my father’s house
  2. Ephraim…for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction

Here is the application for my heart and yours. To experience a fruitful present and future, I need to let go of a painful past. Many of us have experienced unbelievable pain in a variety of ways and our enemy wants to keeps us chained to those memories to prevent us from experiencing all that Jesus has for us.

In the movie Forest Gump, by way of explaining his three-plus years’ run, he says, “My mamma says that you have to put the past behind you.”

Jesus, by your spirit, and for your honor, enable us to do that…to put the past behind us so that we can be fruitful for you…amen!

Wednesday
Feb222017

Ten ways pastors can be bad bosses!

Pastors don’t always make good bosses.

If you are secure enough in Jesus to have your boat rocked a bit, then read this carefully and prayerfully with your seat belt fastened.

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

I’ve been working with pastors and those they serve for over three decades.

That means two things: I have a lot of experience and I am old.

In the course of three decades, I have seen some pastors thrive and some pastors fail. And I have seen two common reasons for pastors failing. They lack leadership skills and they lack relational skills.

Most pastors have no formal training in either. Yet they are expected to lead and relate the first day they begin serving a church. Indeed, many pastors are expected to be bosses of full-time or part-time personnel even though they may have never led anyone.

So what is the difference between a good pastor boss and a bad pastor boss? We will address the good pastor bosses later. For now, I will share with you our conversations with those who served under bad pastor bosses. Here are the top ten complaints we heard:

1.  Micromanagement. “I can’t do anything without the pastor getting involved and showing me a better way, or even taking over. He drives me crazy!”

2.  Avoiding conflict. “We have tons of unresolved conflict in our church because our pastor won’t address the issues. He tries to please everyone, and so he pleases no one.”

3.  Avoiding making decisions. “Our church seems like we are stuck in molasses because the pastor just can’t make a decision. He seems to live in fear of making the wrong move.”

4.  Stealing credit. “My pastor can’t stand for anyone else to have a good idea. It has to be his own. So if we have a good idea, he ridicules it. But a few months later he ‘discovers’ the same idea and takes full credit for it.”

5.  Shifting blame. “If you listened to our pastor, you would think he is blameless. If something does go wrong, he is quick to blame someone else for the problem. Two words I’ve never heard from him are ‘I’m sorry.’”

6.  Hoarding information. “I don’t get it. He keeps all information close to his vest. He seems to think it gives him some kind of authority or control. We on staff really don’t know what’s going on.”

7.  Failing to listen. “We’ve learned not to express any opinions to the pastor. We know he is only thinking about his next sentence instead of listening to us.”

8.  Setting a poor example. “Our church doesn’t reach anyone for Christ. And guess who never mentions evangelism, much less does evangelism? Our pastor.”

9.  Having a poor work ethic. “He probably works about four hours a day, but he gets furious when he thinks we aren’t doing our job. Total slackard!”

10.  Not developing staff. “He doesn’t train us, work with us, develop us, or point us to good resources. In fact, he rarely spends any time with us. I can’t call him a leader because he’s not leading us.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Feb202017

Are you more like a "Hummingbird" or a "Woodpecker?"

Now, let me say before getting into this that I am neither an ornithologist nor a bird watcher. If you fall into either of these two categories, you can correct me in my analogies and set the record straight.

It seems to me that there are leaders who are more like hummingbirds in their approach to life and leadership and others who more resemble woodpeckers.  Personally, I lean toward the woodpecker.  Of course, I’m not saying one is wrong and the other right, or that one is better than the other--just saying some leaders are like one and some like the other.

HUMMINGBIRDS  

They move quickly, not spending a lot of time on each flower and give every sign of having ants in their pants (as the old saying goes.) They cover a lot of territory. Their wings (unlike other birds) move so quickly that they almost look like they don’t have any wings (like a propeller moving at top speed). Hummingbird-type people generate a lot of ideas very quickly moving at rapid speed from one idea to the next. They are known for talking very quickly and with great energy and excitement.  They can drive woodpecker-types crazy! (Usually high I’s on the DISC.)

WOODPECKERS

They are known for persistently and consistently staying focused on one thing for extended periods of time; pecking away at the same tree and the same hole. They are quite content and patient to stay put and work on one thing, before moving on to the next. They are laser focused, determined and relentless.  They can be persnickety and stay with something until it’s darn near perfect. They can drive hummingbird-people crazy! (Usually high C’s on the DISC.)

If a team had all hummingbirds and no woodpeckers, they would be in trouble. The quick changes, bouncing from one idea to the next with very with little warning or think time can wear people out in short order. A woodpecker with a hummingbird as a boss or supervisor gets tired just listening about all the flowers he wants to “attack” in a given period.

If a team had all woodpeckers and no hummingbirds, it would be exceedingly boring with little joy but with long hours of hard work. There would be little creativity, future thinking or idea generation. “Just give me one tree and lots of uninterrupted time and I’m good,” says the woodpecker. Hummingbirds, with a woodpecker as a boss, would be frequently chomping at the bit to get going; feeling like a wild horse locked in a corral with open fields all around but no opportunity to go there.

We all need each other to build and maintain healthy teams.  We need plough horses and racehorses. We need dreamers and implementers. We need relational people and task people. We need those who ask tough questions and slow the process down and we need those who see nothing as impossible, have a bias for action and speed the process up. It‘s a matter of rejoicing over our differences rather than resenting our differences.

If you are a hummingbird, thank Jesus for focused and determined woodpeckers that God allows into your life and ministry. If you are a woodpecker, thank Jesus for hummingbirds who keep the air fresh with new ideas as they flap their faster-than-the-speed-of-light wings (well, not really that fast!)

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers then all in everyone. All these are empowered by one and the same spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and 11 (ESV)