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On the road again, Yep that is what we are doing.

Ever since we had our first child 15 years ago my wife and I have looked forward to the time when we could finally have God tell us, “This is it, put your tent stakes down deep because you are done moving.”

We thought for sure this was it! We were so sure that we bought our first house. We turned our yard from weeds to thick green grass.
green yard

We tore down our small deck to have a larger one built.
larger house deck

We even installed a new kitchen faucet that fits our families personality more than the plain silver on that was there.

Many more changes as well. The bottom line is we thought we were done.
” You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14

For a moment we forgot the above scripture and felt we knew for sure what our futures looked like. We were certain that we had discovered what our future looked like. This life we were making so many plans about, we have discovered were not the complete plans of God for our family. He has taken great care of us while we were here, and we know He will continue to do so as we obediently follow His plans to another place for our family.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.
Proverbs 16:9

We are no longer on staff at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, MO. Ending our season there did not come easy, but was confirmed by us and our senior pastor. It feels as if God is calling us to a little stronger degree of faith in Him as this is the first time we have stopped at a church and did not have the next one lined up to go to. Sheffield gave us this current month of pay and insurance and then it will be done. Our friendship with many of the people and the senior pastor will continue though. That we are greatly for.

We need to keep in mind that God will go before us. And in this very scary time we remember that God is good. He never disappoints.

Jeremiah 32:39-41 New Century Version (NCV)
39 I will make them truly want to be one people with one goal. They will truly want to worship me all their lives, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.

40 “I will make an agreement with them that will last forever. I will never turn away from them; I will always do good to them. I will make them want to respect me so they will never turn away from me. 41 I will enjoy doing good to them. And with my whole being I will surely plant them in this land and make them grow.”

Leadership Priorities for Success

Stack of sticky notes with a meeting reminder.

True confession…Leadership is hard work.

In my networking with leaders from the business world and the non-profit world the fact of how hard leading can be on someone is one common story we all agree on. There are decisions we each need to make that vary from important matters to urgent matters. The varying noise that can come from each of these can make it hard at times to decide which decisions need action now or later. With each of our decisions we can often times drift from being and doing what we should be and what we should be doing into a mess of other things.

Here are some actions that I use to stay in tune with my leadership priorities.

#1: Pareto Principle. Those closest to me know and have heard me talk about the Pareto principle. This was a principle that once it was taught to me years ago it made a huge impact into my life. Basically this principle says that 80% of the value I give lies within 20% of what I do and my true values. For example, if you have a To Do List with 10 items ranked in order of importance with 1 being the most important and 10 being the least important, items 1 and 2 would contain 80% of the value of the priorities you plan to do. Know your 20%!

#2 Execution clarity. When I find my top 20%, I’m relentless in my pursuit of them, these are the truly important issues for me. Of course, the urgent will continue to emerge. When the urgent comes, I will quickly deal with these matters by asking: “Does this situation fall in my 20%? If not, do I have someone who is better suited for this (whenever my answer to this is “no” I make note of this as an area that I need to train people)? Or am I the best or only one who can deal with it? Once I answer this and execute then I return to the relentless pursuit of my top 20%.

#3 Task Management. I can’t manage time but I can manage my task that happen within the time I have. How often have you said something like this, “I just can’t seem to make time to do this” or “I’ll have to make time to do this?” No one can make time. Time is a gift from God and the management of our task within that time is our gift back to God.

#4 Reflective clarity. I have decided what my priorities are, I am clear on my execution for my 20%, and I realize that Time is a gift from God and that the task I carry out and manage within that time is my gift back. Now the last action in this process for me is to always ask myself “what have I learned in the process?” I set up a time and place to always ask myself, “What happened as I created clarity in my life?” “Why did it happen?” “What does this mean for using my next gift of 24 hours?”

Repeat all the above to keep up your leadership focus.

What are some steps you take to keep from drifting and stay focused in your leadership journey? Please share I would enjoy hearing them.

Testing, Checking and asking Why?

Please excuse this test, I am only checking on some settings and making evaluations of what I have set up.

Here is a quick thought as I end this test. I find it helpful to occasionally pop in and run some test when I add new features to my blog and also check not only the new things but examine plugins that are already installed here as well to make sure that everything plays nice with one another. By running these test it has helped me to be the one to discover when things where not going as I thought they were and not have to hear it from a reader of the blog.

So how often do we run test, examine things that are not just the new things we are creating or introducing, but how often do we make sure that all of our created systems and processes are still running well with everything else? I heard a story once which I will share the brief version of it here.

There was a mom and daughter cooking the Holiday season ham together. The mom took the pan out and began to place the ham in the pan, but before doing so she chopped off the ends of the ham and threw them away. The daughter asking, “Mom why do you do that?” The mom replies, “I don’t know your grandma always did this”. So they both agree to try to find out the reason and call grandma. As they get grandma on the phone and ask her the question they are amazed and embarrassed as grandma gives the reason. Grandma’s reason…Because the ham was to big for the pan she and her mom used to bake the ham in.

In short, just as I am checking and testing this blog to make sure everything is running well with the old and new stuff, we need to know it is ok to question, test, and check what we do and why we do it. The reason people used paper cut outs with Popsicle sticks glued to them for puppets at one time does not mean that we still need to do the same now. Have you ran your methods through a check as to why you are doing stuff the way you are?

Spend some time today to go and do a systems check.

Knowledge does add value

I was having a great conversation with the manager at one of our local Starbucks and it was a great conversation. This manager was telling me that when Starbucks leaders ask partners to “be knowledgeable,” they are encouraging employees to “love what they do and share it with others.” In the information age, no matter what we do for a living we add value to our efforts when we gain work related knowledge. More important, as we become more informed, our value to the business, our self confidence, and the real impact we have on others all increase.

In Take TWO Kids ministries, we want our “Line Producers” (volunteers) and “Producers” (ministry department leaders) to be knowledgeable and love ministering to kids and their families and to share that love with others. Nothing is better than to see or hear when a Producer or Line Producer becomes more knowledgeable in ways to minister to kids or help some child’s family member with a tough time and they turn around and begin to TRAIN others with confidence as an act of WORSHIP to God. Every time this type of TRAINing and acts of WORSHIP take place we see people OBEY and fulfill with confidence the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

Now that is what truly adds value!!

Clarity is a must

How often do we think that as we communicate with others that what we are thinking and saying is perfectly clear? Probably a ton of times for each of us. How many times do we share what we want people to do, or share the vision of our ministries and still people don’t exactly seem to pick it up?

I want to share with you a story I picked up somewhere over the years that i think does a great and humorous job of helping us to see how important it is to be clear when we are speaking to kids. We need to look over our words, phrases, terminology, visuals, all of it and really think through our audience we are talking with to make sure that when we are done communicating we have not just “talked” but really “communicated” clearly.

Two old boys were out in the boonies deer hunting, and somehow Ed managed to accidentally shoot Buster. It was a pretty serious thing, and they knew they needed help.

Buster reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone. He handed it to Ed. “Here,“buster gasped, “call 911 and the tell them what you did.” Then buster lost consciousness. Ed dialed up the number,got a signal, and in about five seconds he was talking to a 911 operator.

“I accidentally shot buster and I think he’s dead!” Ed shouted into the phone.

The 911 operator was reassuring and told Ed she’d walk him through exactly what Ed needed to do. “The first thing,” said the operator, “is to stay calm so you can take action. I can tell you’re excited. Take a few deep breaths for me.”

Ed did that and sure enough, he could feel his heart quit beating so fast.

“Great,“said the operator. “Now, the second thing is to make sure your friend is actually dead.”

The operator heard the phone as it was set on the ground then a shot rang out, Ed came back online. “OK, I made sure he was dead” Ed said. “What’s the next thing?”

In this little story Ed did really well following directions. He did everything that was asked of him. But because he didn’t catch hold of the goal (to save busters life),he ended up doing something foolish. (Now, just a s a disclaimer, this is a fictitious story and no one should really do this and no one was really hurt during the telling of this make believe story)

Even though this story was as stated a fictitious story, something happens all across the globe all the time that is not fictitious. It is when we think we are clear when we are not and we challenge boys and girls to win the world, & be all they can be for God and “we” lose them through our un-clarity and God gets the blame.

It is our responsibility as leaders to make sure people understand the goals and purpose of what we are telling them about so they can make good decisions. I believe that when kids, parents, and families have “clear” communication they will find ways to succeed.

Is this clear?

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