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Staying the course while navigating change


Who Moved My Cheese? This was an incredible book when I read it. This is one of those books that really got me to thinking and was the reason for me to challenge myself on my reason for doing and process for doing. Here is a bit from Wikipedia about this book:

“An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, published in 1998, is a motivational book by Spencer Johnson written in the style of a parable or business fable. It describes change in one’s work and life, and four typical reactions to said change by two mice and two “little people”, during their hunt for cheese. A New York Times business bestseller since release, Who Moved My Cheese? remained on the list for almost five years and spent over 200 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s hardcover nonfiction list.”

So how do you handle change when it happens suddenly, a new situation takes place and creates a new reality for you? What do you do?

You follow a process and move through and with your new reality.
A process offers a set of steps, protocols and principles that go into place in a sensible order. They are designed to restore perspective, functionality, effectiveness, efficiency and life as you have become use to. Regardless of the situation you are facing, defining a process, implementing it and regularly monitoring it can give order and meaning to the results.

A process involves steps and decisions in the way something is accomplished, and may involve a sequence of events. The process that one follows is as important as the results that are produced by the process.”

Are you following a process to keep things moving forward, or are you stuck or drifting?

Here are a few areas (and in no order) that I check to make sure my process stays on track:

1. Making sure that my vision is clear about what I do and what I am supposed to be doing. It makes it easier to stick with it and persevere. This is what my coaching students know as their 20%.

2. Making sure that my values are clear about why I am doing what I am doing.

3. Making sure that the fundamentals are in place and I am after the best practices available today. These best practice tools constantly change.

4. Nurturing and having a mindset and attitude that is positive, and full of kindness.

If I keep these areas clear, on track and working together, then I am better equipped to deal with and manage those external conditions, like my cheese moving. I still may have no control over my cheese moving, but I have a process and a system in place that will aid me greatly in guiding and moving me forward.

Martin Luther King Jr – Did you know

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. Here are some things about King that you may not have known.

1. In 1964, King became the second African American—and the third black man—to win the Nobel Peace Prize

2. A decade before he was assassinated, King was nearly stabbed to death in Harlem when a mentally ill African-American woman who believed he was conspiring against her with communists, stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. He underwent emergency surgery, and remained hospitalized for several weeks but made a full recovery. The doctor who performed the operation said, “Had Dr. King sneezed or coughed the weapon would have penetrated the aorta. . . . He was just a sneeze away from death”

3. On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by the #277 man on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list. In 1967, James Earl Ray escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary by hiding in a truck transporting bread from the prison bakery. After being convicted for the murder of King Ray was sentenced to 99 years in Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. In 1977, Ray became the #351 on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list after he and six other convicts escaped from the prison. He was recaptured three days later and given another year in prison, bringing his sentence to 100 years.

4. While much of King’s philosophy of nonviolence was derived from Christian—especially Anabaptist—sources, a significant influence was the work of Indian leader Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. While in seminary King’s gave a presentation he prepared for a class entitled “Christian Theology for Today,” where he included Gandhi as one of a number of figures he identified as “individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God.”

5. King is one of three people to have a federal holiday in his honor, according to The other two people with the recognition are George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Although the holiday celebrates King’s birthday, which is Jan. 15, MLK Day is considered a floating holiday, and is always observed on the third Monday of January.

6. Getting all 50 sates on board took until 2000. New Hampshire was the last state to adopt MLK Day as a paid state holiday in 1999, according to Fact Monster. Several states, including Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts, celebrated King before the federal holiday was created, only 27 along with the District of Columbia recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day after the federal law.

7. 17 Minutes: King delivered his most famous address, the “I Have A Dream” speech, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. According to National Public Radio, King spoke for 17 minutes to more than 200,000 supporters, calling for an end to racial discrimination.

Bad habits may be more present than you think

I have invested years into observing great people who really are world changers. Now I am part of a church that has that phrase “World Changers” in their mission statement. This has sparked in me to go back and look at the world changers that I know or have studied and see that their success is built upon great habit after great habit that allows them to experience success. It is through improving systematically one habit at a time that over time will dramatically improve our our own success.

Being one that believes 100% that if you keep doing what you have always done, that you will always get what you have always gotten. So, lets look quickly at some possible bad habits that may be keeping you from living with the success you desire.

1. Not dealing with paper work quickly and efficiently.
2. Being late for meetings and appointments.
3. Handling your mail more than once.
4. Not returning phone calls on time.
5. Talking instead of listening.
6. Poor communications between staff and colleagues.
7. Forgetting someones name 60 seconds after being introduced to them.
8. Hitting the snooze alarm several times in the morning.
9. Not taking enough time off for family and friends – guilt free.
10. Not spending enough time with your kids.
11. Working long days without exercise or enough breaks.
12. Leaving home in the morning without hugging, kissing or saying “I love you” to your spouse or kids.
13. Taking work home with too often. With laptops this has become more common, for me as well.
14. Never unplugging from your cell phone.
15. Controlling every decision especially the small ones that you need to let go.
16. Procrastinating with everything from filing taxes to cleaning your house.
17. Eating at irregular times of the day and night.
18. Not allowing enough travel time for outside appointments.
19. A lack of clarity about expected outcomes, monthly targets, goals etc.

I am going to stop with 19, just because I know it will cause some to break out in a rash to not end on 20.

Now go and take some time to create a list of habits (hopefully the above list of 19 can help spark some ideas) that may be unproductive for you. In order to change anything you must know where you are now and what needs change. Remember if you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results. I have also heard that the true definition of insanity is trying to keep doing the same thing the same way but expecting different results.

No exceptions policy

I just learned this new term called a “No Exceptions Policy”. A no exceptions policy towards habits basically means you will maintain a certain exercise (habit) no matter what happens, because you value the long term benefits of the new habit.

People who will dabble at change will usually quit after just a few weeks or months. You have seen these people or you may be one yourself. A few examples would be the New Year dieters, the new founded “I have got to start saving for my future” people, or the time to continue my schooling and the list goes on and on. These people (and I have been in at least one of these list above myself) usually have a long list of reasons (or excuses) why it didn’t work out for them. It is those who really want to distance themselves from the masses and want to really enjoy the fruits of their new found habits recognize that it is in the “daily” habits that will determine a future. It is in living a “No exceptions policy” that you will continue to invest in let’s say the habit of having good health, that you want to receive the benefit of walking your daughter down the aisle of her wedding so daily you invest in that habit of good health. You go to gym, choose healthy food, don’t stay up all night, don’t work 7 days a week so you can have good health. You do all this with the conviction of staying true, no exceptions!

In closing this thought, I am sure that successful people do not just drift to the top. It requires focused deliberate action, discipline and not to mention a ton of energy every day to make things happen. So what kind of “No Exception” policy do you have? What habits are you investing in no matter what, because the end result is too important for you to give up or just dabble around with?

Book Review- 27 Tough Questions Pastors Ask

I have known Dick Hardy since 1992 and ever since then have come to know Dick as one of the great thinkers and go get em’ type people out there. In part what makes Dick one of those great thinkers is that he knows how to ask great questions in order to continue to grow and stretch his tent stakes further. In his book 27 Tough Questions Pastors Ask he again does a masterful job of collecting in one convenient place questions that are asked and maybe should be asked more frequently.

As you read through this book, it is not filled with dry boring irrelevant questions, but, fact finding, honest, practical, inspiring questions to help every pastor and church leader to grow themselves and their ministries. One of the great things I enjoyed about this book is the way it as written with each chapter only a few pages so you can read the book in a very short time. They are practical and to the point. A lot of the stuff Dick points out are unfortunately missed by churches on a regular basis and it is very refreshing to have someone who really does care about the church who can come in and say with clarity and integrity that only Dick can deliver in his own unique way “you might want to consider a few changes”.

I also know that there can be and are a lot more books than I would like that are written these days that come from a more critical view of the church and spend most of their time bashing the church. That is not the heart that this book has or takes. But it is written from the heart of: Let’s learn what we can to help the whole body of Christ become all we can be in and through our local churches for the purpose of reaching all we can.

In closing another great resource by Dick Hardy is his web site The Hardy Group, see you there.

Don’t be afraid of Change.

Some quick thoughts on the topic of change. Principles must guide a leader in managing change positively, effectively, and gracefully.

– It’s important that we focus more on what we need to be than on what we need to do.

– The quality of our relationships is the key to establishing a positive ethos for change.

– People follow easily the leader who undertakes meaningful changes clearly and connects them to a strategy.

– An organizations capacity to change depends to a great degree on effective followership.

The work of bringing about change is the leaders job. Yes there are risks and tensions. The tensions and our understandable fear of them often inhibit an organizations ability to welcome change. Here are some possible sources for these tensions and are by no means an exhaustive list.

– Lack of preparation.

– Our complete inability to control change.

– The comfort of routine.

– Ignorance of the reasons for change.

– The inability to reconcile events with values.

– Determining how much change a person and/or family or organization can digest.

Maybe if we understand some of the sources of tension around change it could help. But, just understanding some possible tensions and the source of them will not remove all risk. An unwillingness to accept risk has swamped more leaders than any of us may know about. But, risk is just like change, it is natural, predictable and should be welcomed.

Book Review: Steering Through Chaos by Scott Wilson

Pastor Scott Wilson has definateley hit a home run with his book “Steering Through Chaos“. This book by title alone could have taken a few different unconnected but much desired directions. Pastor Scott has found a way to take all of those potential unconnected directions and mold them all into a very connected practical and often times insightful way.

My temptation here is to want to do a chapter by chapter review of this great book because I feel if you do not consume the whole book, you are definateley missing out. But, I will resist temptation and try to mention only a few items.

Scott does begin the book by setting up for his readers the guaranteed pain that will and does come from growing and changing. As a matter of fact Pastor Scott quotes Gerald Brook’s words: “Your church will grow only to the level of your pain threshold.” I must say that I added this to my Evernote file. Scott goes on and says that “Ultimately, leading transitions isn’t about changing the direction of the church or changing the staff. It’s about God changing me as a leader so that I can trust him more fully, listen to Him more intently, and obey Him more gladly.” Scott then goes on and finishes this particular paragraph on page 31 with this reminder: “A disciple is not above his teacher. If Jesus faced challenges i ministry, I shouldn’t be surprised if I do as well.”

Pastor Scott continues now that he has adequately set up the scene for change, challenging our norm and comfort to laying out through the rest of the book some very practical but yet deep ideas of how to grow through all of this. He shares the battles he had early in his ministry of aligning the right people for the right ministry fit. Scott shares the realities of the people not knowing truly what the church was to do and why and how he corrected this. The ways he brought people on board with the direction and much more. But I must admit that throughout the book Pastor Scott does a good job of reminding us: “When we aren’t driven to prove ourselves or please others to win their approval, we can breathe a bit more easily and make it a priority to spend quality time with God and with our families.”

To keep true to my purpose of not writing a chapter by chapter over this great book that will go on my “must have book shelf”, I will close this off with one of the chapters that really helped me see the way that many churches end up in decline and often times have such a hard time getting out of, because of when they do realize it is happening, they are in decline. Pastor Scott tells of how to prevent this and lead through the “Chaos”.

Pastor Scott, thanks so much for sharing these brief nuggets that I have quickly mentioned, and so may more that you have shared in your book, “Steering Through Chaos”.

Stir up the waters

During a time with God I was reading this:
Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This caused me to think “What hinders kids that I may do or my ministry?”

I know that I will never be able to answer all of this just in this quick post but here are a few ideas I think are good for all of us children’s pastors, Sunday school teachers, and anyone who works with kids to look at.

I think we can hinder kids in many ways. I think that many of us hinder kids when they come into our churches and:

* We don’t treat them like they can make a difference now!! Lately I have been getting a lot of parents telling me that they appreciate that their kids come into Take TWO Kids and now feel that they are important. That is good news but it is also not so good news. The reason it is not so good news is that statement says that there are places that kids go that do not make them feel that they are not important. This is hindering them.

* Our ministries are in stagnation. Our Sunday schools, kids churches, ministries to kids should be vital, exciting, growing, and going places. When we accept anything less we will see stagnation, and that will hinder kids from really seeing how relevant God is. Often times I think that since teachers, pastors, church members, volunteers , moms and dads get to show Jesus to kids, what actually happens is that we just show kids how irrelevant we may be but and God gets the blame.

Working with kids is not always easy, but is incredibly important. Children’s ministry should constantly be changing because the world of kids is constantly changing. So fight stagnation in all areas of your ministry with kids. If you are still doing what you did even last year and doing it in the same way, most likely stagnation is taking place and you are not even aware of it. Take a look at your decor, facility, teaching style, what you are reading or not reading, who do you net work with, classroom set up, what was the last thing that changed in your ministry? The list can and does go on but these should be good starter type questions for you.

Stir your waters up!! Families depend on us.

Risk to become better

I am always challenged to think through how we do ministry, and why we do things a certain way. I must admit that these times of constant self examination can be painful or at least provide a little discomfort. It is a firm belief of mine that children’s ministry or any ministry for that matter was not designed to stand still. We have always got to push ourselves to get better, make continuous improvements, and expect to see more fruit.

Jesus told us to strive for more than simply maintaining the status quo. His parables about the talents (Matt. 25) and minas (Luke 19) reinforce that we should constantly look for ways to make more out of the ministry that’s been entrusted to each of us. Yes, in both stories people were given something of value and then later asked to show what they accomplished with their portion. Those who could show an increase were rewarded. Those that played it safe and tried nothing new were chastised.

The point of this to me is very clear. We need to be creative, take risks, explore new ways to make more stuff happen for the glory of God. It never seems to amaze me how quick the world around us changes by the year, month, week, hour, and even every second. The sad thing is that often the church is to scared to make changes. Too often ministries become satisfied to stay where they are because they may be seeing some results, but not as many as God may want them to experience. We need to remember that it is the message that should never change, but the method we use to share that message should constantly be changing.

Remember, change is not a bad word. An unresponsive kids ministry is on a path toward being irrelevant, and will reach less kids for Christ.

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