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Are you Buzzing your volunteers?

The other day I had a great idea, I could cut my own hair!! I thought really how hard could it be? Well, I soon found out. We went to Walmart and bought these clippers with all these different guides of various lengths, and the kit had all kind of great gadgets and all as well. When I got home off to the bathroom with a sheet (to stand on to catch all the hair) I went.

Now let me tell you a little about myself that I too am very aware of as well. I have no patience. I mean like none. I also enjoy getting things started and when I have built teams that love to do what ever I had started then I love to leave it to those teams to continue on while I go and take a new hill to only repeat the process. Well, knowing this about myself you would think surely I would understand that hair cutting is probably not the job for me. Wrong! I tried it anyways.

You can see the result for yourself how wrong I was in trying to convince myself that cutting my own hair was any kind of a good idea.

This made me begin to think, how often I have seen volunteers get set up for a buzz as well.

What I mean is this, sometimes we don’t take the time to either get to know our volunteers or we just don’t pay attention to them and their gifts and talents because we want to fill holes in our ministries instead of placing people where they will be successful. It was not a good idea for me to try and cut my own hair knowing what I know about me, because after 4 minutes I was done and instead resorted to just buzzing everything off. I did not set myself up for success. Our volunteers when we do not pay attention to them and place appropriately we set them up for failure as well. We may give them great tools, I had great clippers and all the accessories, but I still should not have cut my hair. A misplaced volunteer may have all the greatest stuff at their disposal but will not be able to taste success because they are in the wrong place.

Take time to get to know your volunteers. Ministry is about relationships, not filling holes. Don’t buzz your volunteers, groom them for success.

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?

Starting smart so it doesn’t end foolishly

image428280100.jpgAnyone who knows me knows that I enjoy studying success and failures of people, businesses, churches and more. While keeping an eye on these topics I have read how in the past couple decades, 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than 3 years. According to a Harvard Business Review, 2 out of 5 new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. It appears that the major reason for the failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience, but more with over bearing pride, ego and a leadership style out of touch with modern times.

One reason this may be happening could be the Leadership vacume that creates how leaders see themselves and how others see them. This is an area leaders live in because they are the leader and no one wants to truly speak openly with them. This vacume can be career limiting. The bigger the vacume, the more resistance there is to change. It also makes it difficult to create a positive organizational culture where openness and honesty are encouraged. Candid, constructive feedback can help a leader grow, and often leaders don’t get that feedback from their teams.

Research shows 82% of newly appointed leaders derail because they fail to build partnerships with subordinates and peers.

Sydney Finkelstein, author of Why Smart Executives Fail, researched several spectacular failures during a six year period. He concluded that these CEOs had similar deadly habits:

Habit 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment. Warning sign: A lack of respect for others .

Habit 2: They identify too closely with the company, losing the boundary between personal and corporate interests. Warning sign: They define themselves by their job.

Habit 3: They think they are the only ones that have all the right answers. Warning Sign. They have few followers.

Habit 4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely supportive. Warning Sign: A lot of subordinates are either fired or quit.

Habit 5: They are obsessed with photos, speeches, appearances and publications in which they represent the company. Warning Sign: They blatantly seek out media.

Habit 6: The underestimate obstacles. Warning Sign: Excessive hype and little substance.

Habit 7: They stubbornly rely on past achievements and successes. Warning sign: They consistently refer to what worked for them in the past.

There are no universal ways to prevent failures, except perhaps to be alert for the warning signs. To be aware of History so we do not need to repeat it.

Good leaders make people around them successful. They are passionate and committed, authentic, courageous, honest and reliable. Leaders need a confidante, a mentor, or someone they can trust to tell the truth about their behavior. They rarely get this due to the vacume stage that I have mentioned.

Coaches and Mentors can help leaders reduce or eliminate their blind spots and be open to constructive feedback, not only reducing the likelihood of failure, and premature burnout, plus also provide an atmosphere in which the Leader can express fears, failures and dreams.

There are many great mentorship you can join out there, but if you want to know of a specific one that I know gets results it is Kidology Coaching.

Why Smart Executives Fail and What We Can Learn From Them

Kidology Coaching

Productivity – A Bugs Life

I was reading this morning about the story of the ant and grasshopper. You may have heard the same story so I will not re-tell it completely plus you could also jump on over HERE and read it for yourself. But there was definitely a main lesson that stood out to me and one that I am encouraging my Kidology Coaching students to continually work towards. This lesson is also good for anyone, and it is amazing how much of a difference it makes if applied.

The story basically involves an industrious ant and a fun-loving, procrastinating grasshopper. As you can tell the ant works hard all summer by bringing in only one grain at a time while the grasshopper jumps around and has fun all day long. Come winter though the story changes and it is the ant who makes it through the winter and not the grasshopper.

So what does one grain of wheat really equal? The answer is alot!!

Don’t procrastinate start now with just your little bits of grain. Some around you will be like grasshoppers and jump around and use excuses for not starting yet like: I am waiting for the right time or the right job/ministry, good weather, to reach a certain destination before starting, need to save up enough money and the list can and does go on and on.

But what could some practical “Grain” ways look like? Here are some piece by piece grains to start with:
* Three minutes of tidying your desk.
* Five minutes of going through the mail and processing it.
* Four minutes of deleting no longer relevant emails.
* Five minutes to call a fellow children’s pastor and build that network

Those grains really add up. You grab ahold of grain by grain by learning:
* How to take one thing at a time
* Prioritizing. We can only manage priorities not time
* This is really more simple than we probably make it, and that is a large reason many don’t even start.
* Find accountability friends/network just like the ants have colonies. If left alone by ourselves we will just begin to naturally complicate things.

Now if I could only accomplish having a bugs life… boy who would of thought that a goal of mine would be to learn from a bug.

If you want to read the whole fable here it is: The Ant and the Grasshopper

Clarity equals Simplicity

Through my God given privilege of serving as a Kidology Coach, I get the opportunity to help assist many children’s leaders to clear up and simplify things that have been slowing them down or hindering them from being everything they feel God has for them. Sometimes it is as basic as helping them to see how: “Clarity is the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people”. Bottom line on this is that the people and the leadership should know exactly how the ministry is structured to move people toward spiritual maturity.

Understanding always precedes commitment.

If people are to embrace and participate in their ministry process, they must be able to understand and internalize it. To internalize the process, they must first grasp it. Clarity is then absolutely essential!

A lack of clarity ultimately leads to confusion and complexity because there is no coherent direction. When there is no direction, people will assume a direction or invent one, which then causes ministries to move aimlessly off course.

Here are some starter questions I suggest the protégées to ask themselves and find their answers to:

1. Do you feel that people are creating their own directions?

2. Do you feel that you do not have the best support of the people in accomplishing what you feel God wants to do in your church?

3. Do you ever feel that people are not growing the way you feel they should, but you feel you are being faithful in teaching and preaching?

Depending on their answers we may look to see if they are having a clarity problem. Maybe you don’t have a well-defined process set up for moving people toward spiritual maturity? Maybe you do have a process but it is not really known by your people or the leaders in your church? Maybe it is too complex of a process? Maybe it is to busy of a process or it is to scattered?

Check your Clarity out with others in your church, not just with you and your spouse.

Look at everything you have in print and make sure it all says the same message, shows the same direction, and are very clean and simple. Set up times to speak with your workers and ask them if they are clear in why you do what you do and if they are clear in what you do and how you do it. Ask the kids in your ministry and ask them the same questions.

You may find that if left to yourself you can unknowingly make things very complex. You can allow everything from too many different ministries taking place, to the many different announcements you allow to be broadcast, and more, will make your process to complex and you will lose your clarity and simplicity.

Leaders re-produce

Robert Coleman had written a wonderful book years ago that still proves to be a great book, it is called, “The Master plan of Evangelism.”

Why is it such a great book? Why do people still read it as much today as they did back in the mid 60’s when it was first released? One reason is because it teaches leaders how to train other leaders.

According to Coleman, Jesus changed the world by establishing a principle of discipling people in such a way that they would disciple others, who would in turn, disciple others. He tells of Jesus followed an eight pronged strategy:

1. Selection

2. Association

3. Consecration

4. Impartation

5. Demonstration

6. Delegation

7. Supervision

8. Reproduction

James Garlow has said that Jesus knew that leadership is less a commitment to a program as it is a commitment to a person or persons. I must agree with him.

1. In selection, the leader finds persons who are really willing to grow and concentrates most of their time on them. This is also known as the pareto principle which I fully agree with (80/20 principle – spend 80% of your time on the 20% of the things and people who accomplish 80% of what needs to be done).

2. Association phase, the leader spends a great amount of time forming deep relationships with those they have selected and then selects some of these few who will form the core into whom they will invest in the most.

3. Consecration stage is a time when the expectations are more clearly shared; the standard is ratcheted up, some may even fall away but those left will be willing to pay the price.

4. Impartation is where the leader demonstrates a life of sacrifice, love, and passion. The leader releases power to the followers to do what they have been charged to do.

5. Demonstration period is a time in which the leader leads by doing, providing the followers with on the job training. This is the watch me stage.

6. Delegation means followers now do what they were shown without the leader present to assist them, they work in teams of two or more. This is the I will watch you stage.

7. Supervision is the season where the leader watches them, instructs them, and brings them gentle but needed correction. This stage is the go do it and come back and report stage.

8. Reproduction stage is where we will no longer refer to them as followers, they are now leaders in their own right, the original leader has now multiplied himself several times over.

The essence of Colemans thesis is the same as that of John Maxwells where he says, if you only lead followers, you will add; if you raise up leaders you multiply.

So where are you in any of these stages? It is extremely encouraging as I continue to hear from those who are in Kidology Coaching as they relay to me the stages they are in and their progress in each of these stages as they help reproduce other disciples and collaborate with other leaders, team members, and families. Lastly great joy is coming from hearing the results they are seeing in their ministries, churches and new relationship with the senior pastor.

New Wine, New Skins – Kidology Coaching

Change, it is happening everywhere and at all times. But there are really 2 kinds of change that I am talking about in this post and many of us do not object to one of these types of change which we will call: Continuous Change. Most of us do not mind this type type of change because this type of change develops out of what has gone before and therefore can be expected, anticipated, and managed. This type of change involves improvements on what is already taking place and can be managed with existing skills and expertise already developed.

Discontinuous change is one that is disruptive and unanticipated. This kind of change creates situations that challenge our assumptions. The skills we have already learned are rendered obsolete. In change like this: working harder with one’s habitual skills and ways of working does not address the challenges being faced; an unpredictable environment means new skills are needed; and lastly, there is no getting back to what was once considered “normal”.

There are definitely times that we can see clearly when these two types of changes have taken place. For the first type an example of Continuous Change could be raising children. Here we have decades of great resources created and at our disposal. There are definite patterns that children go through that we can learn from and maybe just need to make some adaptations within a given framework.

Then there is the Discontinuous Change that transforms a culture forever. Look at the printing press, computer, internet, the iPhone and many more. Once these changes or items were created it changed our lives and our world in a way that there was no turning back to the familiar.

I recently was reminded of a great commercial through a book that I was reading, and it was a commercial from IBM that demonstrates what discontinuous change is really like. It wet something like this:

A team of people where starting up a business after working hard to develop an online marketing strategy gather around a computer as their product goes online. They look hopefully and expectantly for the first internet sale. When one comes through, they nervously look at each other, relieved that something was happening. Then 10 more sales come through, excitement runs through the anxious room. Then, suddenly, a hundred orders show up. The team is cheering and giving high five’s because all their hard work has paid off. Then as they look at the screen beyond belief it doesn’t stop at 100, suddenly its thousands and then millions and it just keeps going up. It brings everyone to a place that they realize the organization has moved to a level of complexity that is beyond the teams skills and ability to address.

We tend to be in a time of change that many pastors are just like that team; they are looking at each other realizing that the church has changed in a way that their presently learned skills are no longer as effective. Not all is lost, because God is still on the throne and willing to continue to help us.

Hope is still alive for us all because we serve the One who wrote about “new wine in new wine skins”. It is these new wine and new skins that makes Kidology Coaching so valuable. Numerous Kidology Coaching Students are weekly

…insights into developing their own administrative skills:

* Helping organize your children’s ministry
* Developing your vision and goals for reaching kids
* Insights into your spiritual gifts
* Guidance and help with your Godly disciplines
* Exposure to various venues for children’s ministry
* Marketing your children’s ministry
* Recommending books and articles to read and study
* Sample administrative forms and procedures
* Leadership-training procedures
* Task management

…help in presenting a clear Gospel message to children:

* Learning different approaches used to present the Gospel to kids
* Developing Bible messages for kids
* Discipline of giving salvation invitations to children
* Studying the Bible texts about children

…creative use of evangelistic methods, technology and gadgets:

* Learning a variety of evangelistic methods for children
* Exposure to collaborating tools, web based tools, gadgets & more oftentimes free
* Teaching how to use object lessons and gospel magic
* Learning insights into today’s “Child culture”
* Help with programming your evangelistic ministry

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