Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category


The Importance of a Personal Support Team

May 29, 2008

(photo by Clearly Ambiguous)

I ran across a post on Scot McKnight‘s blog Jesus Creed by Father Rob Merola, an episcopal priest in Virginia. He shared his insights into being able to thrive as a pastor. He suggests that it is important for pastors to have a personal support team. For him, that is:

  • spiritual director to help spritual growth
  • mentor or coach to help vocational growth
  • counselor or therapist to stay mentally healthy
  • trusted friend to be completely honest with

He doesn’t give this list as prescriptive. He simply states that it is important not to do ministry alone and that it is not selfish to have this kind of team. On Father Rob’s blog, he does talk about how he found a coach without having to fork out major amounts of cash for one.

One of my favourite things that he says in his post is:

If you try and do it on your own, no matter how bright or clever or talented you may be, you’ll wear yourself out. You’ll be resentful of those who aren’t helping.

How many times have I been resentful of people not helping? Wow! This made me think that maybe it’s more my fault and not the people who aren’t involved.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about empowering people to do the work of ministry and the importance of not “doing it all.” There wasn’t much in the way of how to do that. I’m encouraged at seeing more of the how to empower people to do ministry, especially volunteers. But add to that building a personal support team… wow, I can only imagine what that would do for my growth and Kingdom impact. I’ve heard Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, talk about having a personal board of directors and thought it was a great idea but didn’t really know how it translated into my context of being in vocational ministry… this idea of a personal support team gives me better context.

As I look at the people around me, I do have a personal support team. I have a couple of friends I am honest with. I have some peers in ministry that keep me sharp and growing. I have those who I consider mentors that I look to for growth. I think it’s the only way I’ve been able to stay sane. I am challenged, though, to see what might be missing in my support team. Where are some places that I haven’t thought about that need support?

How do you keep from “going it alone”?


Leadership Lesson from Target

May 26, 2008

Last week, I was on a trip with a friend to see RUSH. I had not really known music from RUSH, but my friend was a big fan and had requested this concert from his wife as his birthday present. Since his wife doesn’t like RUSH and I am up to adventures, I got to go. It was a lot of fun.

On the way home, we did some shopping. Yes, I know… men and shopping? Anyway, we stopped at Target. I wanted a Senseo machine (best cup of coffee ever!) and my friend needed a toaster. While were were looking for stuff, we needed an associate to help us with something. We used one of those service stations where you pick up the phone and someone gets paged to help you. I like Target’s automated system. It pages everyone with a walkie talkie to come to wherever you paged them from.

Within 20 seconds, there was someone to help us. She was having trouble canceling the page, so there was a second page over the walkie talkies. Withing 10 seconds four more associates showed up! Wow!

Now, I know this might not be true of all Target stores, but for this Target, I know that it is the norm. My wife and I had just been at this same Target days previous and had a similar experience.

The cool thing at this Target is that not only does someone come to help you, but that person is empowered to answer your question and help you in any way they can. I couldn’t help but wonder at the culture that this Target had created. When a page is sent out, people don’t just assume that someone else will get it. If they are near the area, they go. Then with the second page, it seems as if all “senior” associates drop what they are doing and rush to the area that they are paged to. I felt important.

Now, I know that these people are paid to do what they do, but someone had to create that culture of service and taking responsibility for the entire store and not just their little task. It made me think about what I am doing to try and create a culture of volunteers who care about the entire church and not just their class or task that is assigned to them. Not only care but are empowered to do something. I was reminded that I need to keep communicating with my volunteer team. I need to tell them stories of what is happening all over the church. I need to keep the vision of the church before them as much as possible. I need volunteers to hear my heart consistently.

What are you doing to empower your volunteers? How are you creating a culture that cares about the big picture? Creating culture takes time… years of time. Keep at it. It’s worth it.



May 13, 2008

(photo by Pulpolux !!!)
I was talking with one of the staff here at Redwood about being in vocational ministry and the tension between work and home. He said something that got me thinking. He said, “I like to think of it in terms of equilibrium rather than balance. Equilibrium is just more dynamic.”

Both he and I are from a science background, so that really hit a chord with me. For those of you science nerds out there, Wikipedia defines dynamic equilibrium this way:

  • “occurs when two opposing processes proceed at the same rate. A reversible chemical reaction will be at dynamic equilibrium when the rate of forward reaction is equal to the rate of the reverse reaction. Whilst at dynamic equilibrium there is no change in the concentration of either the forward or reverse reactions. The word “dynamic” indicates that at equilibrium both the forward and reverse chemical reactions still occur rather than the reaction halting once equilibrium is reached.”

In other words, equilibrium doesn’t mean things get balanced and then nothing changes. In equilibrium stuff is always moving back and forth. The key, though, is that the net effect over a long period of time is zero. One side of the equation doesn’t end up being heavier than the other.

I think that if we approach work and home that way when it comes to vocational ministry, it allows us the freedom to define how much we spend at work and how much we spend at home in terms of what our values and priorities are rather than in number of hours from week to week. Personally, my values are that home life will win over work life in the end. That then allows me to work more hours at work when certain situations require that of me because I will take advantage of those times when work isn’t as demanding to spend more time at home so that net effect in the end is that home does win over work.

This then becomes a good guage of if you are spending too much time at work (or at home). If the equilibrium that you have set up for yourself becomes out of whack over a period of time, then you know you have to adjust one side of the equation or make a radical change.

How do you deal with the demands of work and home when in vocational ministry?


More on Leadership

May 8, 2008

photo by Shenghung Lin

After posting about building leaders of leaders yesterday, I ran across this post from Eric Bryant’s blog. It has three great quotes about leadership (including one from Dwight Schrute!) Hop on over there and take a gander.


It Takes Time

May 7, 2008

Helping leaders become leaders of leaders takes time. It isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in a volunteer setting. I know that this isn’t new, but I need to remind myself of that. There is no quick route or 3-step miracle plan to instantly have leaders of leaders. It takes time. It takes trust. It takes letting go.

You hear speakers or read books that outline structures showing you leading Zone leaders who lead coaches who lead small group leaders who lead students (or however you want to name your subdivisions). It’s made out to sound as if all you have to do is start plugging people into these roles and you have instant leaders of leaders. There’s nothing instant about it. I forget that developing leaders of leaders isn’t a sprint… it’s a marathon.

Picture by darkmatter


A Look Back At My Ministry Year

March 26, 2008

Last night was our annual business meeting. Each of our departments give a brief overview of the year as well as do a little vision casting for our departments. It’s a great way for our general membership to see how the church is doing overall.

It was exciting to see all the different things we did over the past year in children’s ministry at Redwood Kids. In area after area, I was able to talk about growth in kids, growth in leaders, growth in relationships. It was a great exercise and encouragement to me to do that. I have to do it more often than just once a year.

I’m sure you’re all a lot like me. You get caught up in the doing of ministry. You go from one thing to the next and forget the excitement of the previous “thing” you were doing. Last night was a good reminder that I have to take more times throughout the year to give myself a presentation of what has happened in children’s ministry, where God was moving, and where we are going. I spend so much time vision casting to others to keep them motivated; I need to spend some time vision casting to myself. Sounds weird, I know. But, really, as the leader there really isn’t anyone to motivate/vision cast to me about the specific ministry I oversee. So, it is my job to do that with myself. Yes, I can go to conferences and get motivated about CM, in general, and I can get pats on the back from my SP, but I need to spend more time self-leading and self-motivating and self-vision casting. For me, that comes from celebrating acheivements, remembering successes and reliving those moments where God was at work.

How do you vision cast to yourself?