I’m too busy. A true death sentence.

I am way to busy. This is a death sentence.

I get the opportunity to coach many people into their next level of effectiveness. One common expression I hear too often is how busy they feel. This busyness is temporary and usually, comes right before their next level.

Here is the place I enjoy starting, in their daily routines. To take on this busyness we need to see what their habits are. To get to the next level we need to produce new habits and routines. Each level requires new tools, don’t stunt your growth by using this excuse: “This is the way that I am”. Yes, this “is the way you are now” at this level, but, you are attempting to go to a new level for yourself. You need to develop new ways and discover new tools.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. JOHN C MAXWELL ~”

Michael Hyatt over on his blog
“The problem is that most of us have used the same strategies for too long. They worked at some point, but we forget that we are seeing the world through our own unique lens—and that perspective can sometimes be limited. These adaptive strategies become a kind of “programming” we repeat over and over, even when it doesn’t fit the situation we are in”.

As you hear yourself begin to say that death sentence, “I am just too busy”, stop and think. Start asking yourself what new tools do I need to discover or new ways to develop so I can keep on developing?

Suggestions:
1. Read Michael Hyatt’s Magazine
2. Rescue Time. Keep a time journal of how you spend your time and theme your days
3. Get a coach
4. Listen to podcast

I’ll list some specifics if you just ask and let me know what area you want specifics in.

Is it really worth being a great leader in your ministry?

Being great isn’t always so great.

Have you ever excelled at a job or position to then be ignored? As you learn your place and excel at it, there comes a time where the nice things said about you come to a stop. The resources poured into you to help you improve stop. The incremental pay raises or small bonuses stop.

Why?

You have become great at what you do. But that is not it. Your place of ministry does not recognize the value of high-capacity, well-trained, top 20% type of leaders. Don’t hold this against your leader, or your church, or the church board when it comes time for any of the above to be shown. Unfortunately, many fall into this category. Sadly, many have never learned or experienced the value of this type of impactful leader.

So what now?

Be that great leader that you are and help your church, ministry, the board, and your leader see the value in having someone like you. You can do this in many ways, I am only going to walk one to two examples out. Be creative in what you can do in your situation.

Start with the same challenge that God gave Moses, “What is in your hand?” Start with what you have. Model how to reward, recognize and love on your top performers. Yes, play favorites in a way. The ministry is for everyone, but why devalue the time and effort of your top performers? Love on everyone, but because you are spending more time with the top performers, you will love on them more.

Here are some quick ideas on how to spread the love with little to no budget.

* Pay more for the same conferences they go to as opposed to the amount helped with when others go.
* Invite them more into your house for meals with you and your family.
* Recognize them by name in the largest group setting of their peers that you have control over. Share why you are mentioning them by name.
* Buy them a coffee more often.
* Hang out with them in their office, the hallways, etc.

There you have it. These ideas will not break the bank. But, if you have the influence and ability to do more, then do it. Resources invested in your top 20% doesn’t return void, or they would not be the 20%.

Create a culture where going the

Perfectly designed for the results you are getting

You’re designed for the results you are getting.

The title of this post has always loomed in the back of my head as I continue to try to grow as a leader. Serving as the XP of my church it is an active part of my weekly duties to look for anything that may hinder our mission.

Here is one common one that I find in many churches. No Implementation Strategy.

Let me explain. Churches are finally beginning to understand the value of reading, conferences, networking and more. Churches set up regular book reviews with their teams. Many have found ways to get their leaders to conferences. Several have taken the next step with designing networks to grow with one another. The main fail I see in this plan as it currently stands, it’s all info consuming and no plan to use the knowledge.

Same if we stand behind the pulpit every week and only share facts and no challenges of how to use what we are sharing? All the info consumption is worthless if we do not create ways to live what we are learning.

This is why, if you look at your life, spiritual or through your leadership, you have designed your life for the results you are getting.

What if you took less different types of info in and implemented more of what you took in?

What if you blocked off time (and I mean to actually add it to your calendar) to invest in living the info?

What if you changed the metrics of what success looks like? Instead of the amount of conferences you go to, or the fullness of your bookshelves, it was the results of what is contained on your bookshelf. What’s preached on Sunday.

4 tools we use for better team communication.

We value communication with our teams. Ever since moving into more of an Executive Pastor role at my church, one thing I have noticed is how well all of my 25+ years as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, and even family pastor have really equipped me for success in this ministry role. Through all of these roles mentioned and now in my newer role communicating with a diverse group of people who want different types of info at different times is still one thing in common.

Here are 4 tools I have come to love because they aid in great communication.

1. Trello.
Here is a tool that I use to track projects of individuals to teams. We use it to keep their wish list ideas in, to tracking their top 2 projects they are working on for the week that keeps the ball moving down the field to accomplish the bigger mission and vision of our church. We will use it at budget times as well to go back and see exactly how we did spend money and look for patterns. One last way that I will mention here, even though we have an abundant amount more we could list would be, we use it for weekly review.

2. Slack.
Instead of texting, we have moved to using slack. This has a much more collaborate feel and function that fits our church. Easier to track documents being shared, I can monitor usage to see how we are using this tool, you can shut off notices when you don’t want to be disturbed, and again many other ways.

3. Dropbox.
All finished projects go here. Every year we do an Easter event of some type. So as planning comes up for Easter we will go into our shared Easter folder and there we will see all collected files, resources, budgets, vendors used along with their contact info, forms etc there for convenient use in guiding us toward creating the new Easter event.

4. Evernote.
The bottom line on this tool, as it can be used in so many ways but the bottom line way we use it as a team is for our electronic brains. A file cabinet that can snatch things from the web with a web clipper for your browser extension, to an email given to you from Evernote that you can send things to through email. With everyone using this tool sharing a folder is easy as well.

Jumpstart3 was just here

We just held our yearly Central Region KidsMin Conference and had Jumpstart3 and Joshua Denhart come and share with us.

Jeff from Jumpstart3 shared a ton but some of the reports I am getting back already is how those in attendance walked away with understanding:

  • Don’t overlook opportunity to share Christ with others
  • The importance of teaching scripture to the kids
  • Remember your identity in Christ not in what others may say
  • The importance of staying faithful and consistent in the lives of kids and families

Joshua had 2 sessions here as well and just a few items that he brought were:

  • His great talk over volunteerism. We actually asked if he would bring this back again as he first taught it in a prior year but so many asked for him to bring it back.
  • Then with his wife, he brought the importance of family time.

Bottom line, those who came walked away talking how blessed they were. The practical items they are taking back to their churches. We even had one church here from Texas that is only 15 people total in attendance and a new lead pastor as well. This church recognizes the importance of kids so much that they held 2 fundraisers to help pay for their person overseeing the kids be able to come and attend this conference.

 

Stop with the busyness

What is it with being busy that so many people wear the title as a badge of honor? Out of all the 10 commandments why is it that staying busy, not taking the rest, is the one we brag over not living out. Never hear someone say,

  • I am “Stealing” so much stuff. No way you don’t hear that.
  • I sure love being “Envious” over things that others have. It makes me feel so good.
  • I enjoy not “Honoring my mom and dad”. It makes me feel so good to trash them publicly.

You get the idea. You could keep this up with all the commandments. But when it comes to busyness, keeping the Sabbath, taking some time to refresh, reflect on the greatness of God and all that He has gone through with you. This one sounds more like:

“I am so busy and have no time for…”

Here is a great article that was posted on Church Leaders website that Carey Nieuwhof wrote. It says everything that I would want to post as well and keeps with the theme of this blog as well. Enjoy the post and maybe pick up Carey’s High Impact Leaders Course while you are there. I picked it up not because it was new for me but to support someone who is out there with a bigger platform than myself saying what I am saying all the time. “Busyness not does equal productivity”.

Quick lessons learned not so quickly

 
Have you ever had those times when you think you have learned a lesson but then later down the road you discover maybe you didn’t realize how important that lesson really was? Ever since moving to the Executive pastor role at my church I keep stumbling across these lessons.
It is my wish to not go into long details but, to mainly make this a bullet list. If you are like me and have heard these lessons already and are implementing them yet, you too will end up having these be a lesson you may have learned but it is not one that you will discover is one you will learn quickly. If you read one of these and wonder what it means then, by all means, ask because there is a chance you can actually turn this into a lesson learned quickly.
Here we go:
  • A written vision is important. The pen (or keyboard!) has power. It isn’t enough to envision your goals in your mind. You must have a blueprint on paper. Every decision you make, ask yourself: does this help me get closer to accomplishing the vision?
  • Learn to listen to the neighborhood that your church is in. You have to listen and then deliver. God really does know where He has placed your church and why.
  • Only hire people who have a fire. Hire people who are driven to do well and see your church succeed.
  • If you must let someone go who is paid or re-position a volunteer, be graceful and professional about it. This is hands down the worst part of being an Executive Pastor. It is tough to let people go, but for the greater good of the ministry and a greater benefit for the person, sometimes it must be done. It doesn’t matter if you are being let go or being repositioned, don’t burn bridges.
  • Learn to forgive. Things happen. People change. You can’t move forward in ministry — or in life — if you can’t forgive and move on.
  • Treat your team well. People will follow a leader who treats them with respect. Learn to value your team’s input, and always reward them for a job well done.
  •  Focus is the most underrated skill that you must master. What is on people’s computer screens is not usually resulting in a positive ROI. Learn to focus on what truly matters in your ministry. Then, do it consistently. Facebook, twitter, snap chat etc., even though you may use it for networking, most likely is not as profitable as you try to sell that it is.
  • Multitasking IS NOT greater productivity. Don’t put “good multitasker” on your resume. Numerous studies have shown that multitasking decreases brain power.
  • Learn to view situations objectively. Just because you would or wouldn’t do something, doesn’t mean others are the same way.
  • Don’t take life for granted. Life is temporary, and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is how you treated those relationships that God has given you for a time. Most importantly, how have you treated the relationship between you and God?
  • A network is crucial. As much as you try, you can’t do it alone. Building a personal and professional support network is imperative.
  • Busy is an ever-changing definition. What was busy last year for you probably is not busy for you today. This is why you should be nervous of any leader who keeps talking about how “Busy” they are. They could be showing you they have reached their lid.
  • Be picky when choosing your friends. My friend list (and I don’t mean Facebook) is short. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. I heard it said once that the top 5 people you spend the most time with represent the lid of who you will be like. What does your lid look like if this is true?

Interviewing High Potential Ministry Candidates

Interviewing

It is exciting times here at my church, First Church. We are seeing a ton of great things happening at the time of writing of this blog this morning. To focus on just one of those items I now have the privilege, being my pastors’ executive pastor, of assisting my lead pastor in interviewing new potential candidates. Yes, we have hired recently a new Harvest Bible Institute Pastor (we have an accredited Bible School starting at our church in the fall of 2017). Then we also hired a new facility building manager and now we are looking for a new worship pastor.

In this process, it has been confirmed some lessons that I have learned over the years about high capacity leaders that you want on your team really do things differently. This applies even when they interview, and you can see this through their questions and their answers to your strategically asked questions. I will take on today sharing some of my questions and what I learn from asking each one.

  • What were the things in your last position that energized you the most and what zapped your energy the most? 

This is kind of easy to see the benefits of asking this question. Some of the obvious takeaways would be seeing what gifts and tools they will be bringing to the table and the areas that they would prefer to stay away from. Areas that people gain energy from they will choose to stay there more often than the areas they don’t gain energy from. How much of the areas that drain them are really parts of the ministry they are applying for? While answering this also keep listening for a humble spirit especially when they are talking about their areas that they gain energy from.

  • What were the problems areas for you in your past position/ministry and do you see any of those potentially being here in this position? 

This is about adaptability. Listen to what problems they identify and how did they adapt to them? Problems will always be in every ministry/position but how does this potential person adapt to the challenges?

  • If you were hired for this position, what would be your game plan for the first 3 months?

Here is a question that will show a couple items about the interviewee. First, it allows the person to showcase some of their creativity. Secondly, it allows you to see how much they have researched your church and the ministry they are applying for. High capacity leaders do their homework. This is an area for the person to show you what specific things they know about your church, the good and the bad. One more thing this can show you is how well have they grasped what success would like in this role.

There are a few more strategic questions I enjoy asking, but, I will leave it at these for now. Some of you may be thinking, you just gave the questions you use in interviewing and people can prepare better now. I would say, you are correct! Bottom line is, High capacity leaders are prepared and do their homework. So if they have found this post and can benefit from it, they should be rewarded for doing their homework.

What questions would you add to this list?

How to accomplish more effective note taking

To be completely honest, this is a new topic and habit for me. Effective note taking that is. I have always taken notes and underlined and all when listening to podcast, sermons, etc.. But, with the ever-increasing amount of data that I need to take in to be an effective Executive Pastor, getting note taking down is even more paramount now.

Habits that do not work. Highlighting. I know, ouch, right? I was a master highlighter. Every book, every Bible that I had looked like it was the result of a rainbow that had thrown up. Highlighting may look product and useful, but actually is the opposite. In fact, highlighting is such a bad study technique it may even harm your recall ability since it highlights particular notes and takes them out of their original context, which makes it harder to form connections in your mind—and thus, harder to remember the material. We need to interact heavily with our notes and the material we’re trying to learn if we’re to remember it. Highlighting and underlining are passive and not interactive.

A habit that does work: Handwritten notes. To be completely honest with you, I am not sure I would have ever tried to go back to handwritten note if it was not for my Rocketbook Wave Notebook. Yes, handwritten and not on a laptop. There is a study titled: To remember a lecture better, Take Notes by hand.

Another habit that works is to draw your notes. An interesting study was done where they even compared handwriting vs drawing and drawing came out on top for memory recall.

Drawing your notes isn’t anything new. In fact, it has a name: sketchnotes. Designer Mike Rhode popularized “sketchnotes” with his books The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Workbook. Rhode uses the term sketchnotes to describe the way he draws shapes and pictures among his notes to help him better take the main ideas from conference talks, and not trying to note down every little point.

Rhode advocates using signs and shapes such as boxes and arrows, different sized writing, and doodles to illustrate notes. You don’t need to be an amazing artist to use sketchnotes, he says. You only need to practice using simple shapes and images to illustrate your points.

So, are you willing to give note taking a try again? I know it can feel so yesteryear but again if it wasn’t for my Rocketbook Wave I would not have tried again either. But now, I’m glad I did because I get to enjoy the best of both worlds plus recall more.

Thoughts? Do you write out notes? Do you only use electronics? Feel free to share.

3 Questions for better productivity

Team work is some of the most gratifying time for me. I love working on teams, being on teams, and leading teams. With teams can come a boat load of questions and for every team member you have, they represent a possible different schedule than what you have set up with your ideal schedule. Does this mean productivity can never be accomplished? Absolutely not. It does mean that training will need to take place in order for true productivity to happen.

Here is one quick way that I try to set those I do executive coaching for up for success. Learn these 3 questions and you’re on your way to better productivity.

When you are in your block of time for open/close door type work (maybe I’ll write more this at another time) and your team members start stopping in because they want to get your comments, thoughts, suggestions etc. and they pitch the issue or problem they are having, ask yourself these 3 questions.

1. Is it important?
Remember that just because something is communicated to you in urgent tones doesn’t mean it is actually
important. And just because it registers as important to someone else doesn’t mean it’s automatically important to you.

2. Is it important for you to do it?
Really think about this one. Pausing to decide if it lines up with your passion and skill is a good
move. There may be someone else on the team who is better suited to tackle the problem. If so, delegate.

3. Is it important now?
Even granting that it is important and important for you, that doesn’t mean it’s important now. You may be able to file it under the list of things to be done when you are doing more routine tasks.

Become very familiar with these 3 questions. If you still struggle with this, it might come down to a leadership issue. Do you find an unhealthy amount of significance from solving team problems? Do you have the right people on the team? Have you empowered them to act?

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