Unleash Your Team by Cultivating a Creative Spark

In our fast-paced digital life, church leadership teams need to be creative in order to deal with the changes coming their way today – or they risk irrelevancy tomorrow.

Creativity then, becomes a constant process for every ministry area of any church rather than an occasional requirement for the worship pastor at Christmas or only limited to those “creative” churches.

Like farmers and their crops, leaders cannot dictate creativity, but they are called to cultivate creativity. Thinking and acting creatively doesn’t just happen because a leader desires it or orders it to happen. With the right environment, resources, mindset, and vision, your team will be able to develop the required motivation to be creative on their own.

If you desire to unleash the creativity of your team, try cultivating a creative spark.

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THE QUICK SUMMARYCreative Confidence

Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.”  But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every  one of us is creative.

In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO, the Stanford d.school, and with many of the world’s top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems.  Creative Confidence can your team be more productive and successful in fulfilling their responsibilities.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

French chemist Louis Pasteur is quoted as saying “Chance favors the trained mind.” You can lead your team to think the same way, by being prepared to be creative.

Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Your efforts to encourage your team’s creativity could be as simple as a change in perspective, or as complex as a new working environment. It’s probably going to be somewhere in-between.

The point is, your team’s creativity can be influenced by specific actions you take. Their claim to fame probably won’t be on the same level as discovering the principles of vaccination or pasteurization, but it could be just as meaningful to your organization.

Sometimes, your team just needs a spark to fire up their creativity.

The creative spark needed to come up with new solutions is something you have to cultivate, over and over again. One way to begin is to consciously increase the inspiration you encounter in your daily life.

Effective strategies to help you get from blank page to insight include:

Choose Creativity – To be more creative, the first step is to decide what you want to make it happen.

Think like a Traveler – Like a visitor to a foreign land, try turning fresh eyes on your surroundings, no matter how mundane or familiar. Don’t wait around for a spark to magically appear. Expose yourself to new ideas and experiences.

Engage Relaxed Attention – Flashes of insight often come when your mind is relaxed and not focused on completing a specific task, allowing the mind to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.

Empathize with Your End User – You com up with more innovative ideas when yo better understand the needs and context of the people you are creating solutions for.

Do Observations in the Field – If you observe others with the skills of an anthropologist, you might discover new opportunities hidden in plain sight.

Ask Questions, Starting with “Why?” – A series of “why?” questions can brush past surface details and get to the heart of the matter.

Reframe Challenges – Sometimes, the first step toward a great solution is to reframe the question. Starting from a different point of view can help you get to the essence of a problem.

Build a Creative Support Network – Creativity can flow more easily and be more fun when you have others to collaborate with and bounce ideas off.

– Tom Kelley and David Kelley, Creative Confidence

A NEXT STEP

At your next team meeting, review the list of strategies above. Select one activity that you will lead your team in each week. Have each team member note how they are applying the principle individually in a personal creativity journal.

Each week, devote 30 minutes of your team meeting to discussing that week’s strategy.

  • How has the strategy worked in improving team creativity?
  • What new directions has the strategy unveiled?
  • What current activities has the strategy revealed that need to be “stopped”?
  • How could the strategy be modified to improve creativity even more?
  • How will your team adopt this strategy into their creative cycle, without it getting “stale?”

At the end of the 8-seek experiment, schedule a one-hour meeting with your team to decide and commit on strategies that will become a regular part of their creative process.

At periodic occasions throughout the year, check-in with the team to see how the strategies are working, or if they need to be modified or abandoned.

 


Closing Thoughts

Creativity and innovation are the life blood of a thriving ministry. But even the most creative team can become stale or fall into a rut of the same old same old. Your actions as a leader will determine if your team stays the same, or is constantly reinventing itself.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 15-1, May, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Generosity Starts with the Heart, Not the Checkbook

Is your congregation stuck seeing generosity as what they cannot give rather than why or how they give?

Generosity is a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values, and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with recognition of God as Creator of all things, and our position as steward of some things.

As stewards, we are in charge of the possessions God has given us – an authority that is real, but secondary to God’s ultimate ownership.

When we get these two ownerships mixed up, problems follow.

One solution to help you grow and develop generous givers in your church is by encouraging them to examining their heart first before you ask them to give.

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – Generosity: Moving Toward a Life that is Truly Life

How would you like to raise the tide of generosity in your life and in your church while discovering greater spiritual maturity through giving?

Generosity was designed to help you do just this. Churches are using Generosity in powerful, creative ways to change the money conversation. People give generously when they reflect on God s generosity, and this book will help you and your church do just that.

Let award-winning author Gordon MacDonald show you how in this four-week devotional, with 100,000 copies in print, that uses Scripture to demonstrate God’s desire for each of us to live a generous life. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Giving is such a sacred and worshipful act that it should not be thwarted by a person’s wrong relationship to another. God so values showing mercy and achieving reconciliation that it justifies temporarily postponing the act of giving. This makes the gift and the worship more meaningful to the individual and more pleasing to God.

God seeks generous givers. But, first, He seeks generous givers whose hearts are right with Him and with others.

Jesus puts a condition on gifts in Matthew 5:23:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.”

Here is Christ, in effect, saying that giving must be preceded by certain actions that are inherently spiritual and relational. In fact, He appears to be discouraging giving if one has not given careful attention to other issues…such as the quality of relationship between the would-be giver and his or her “brother.” You have approached the altar with your gift, He says, and suddenly you are caused to remember that there is a broken relationship out there….with your “brother.”

In this case the “brother” may be a relative, a friend, a working colleague. You’ve offended him; there is a significant breach in your relationship. Before you can give, you must repair the relational damage. Jesus’ remedy: Leave the gift in front of the altar, find your “brother,” reconcile, and then come back and complete the “transaction.”

Jesus regards giving as a whole-person event. The gift on the altar is not impressive to Him if it is not preceded by a “gift” of another kind in another part of life. In this case: the gift of reconciliation whether it means asking forgiveness or giving it. Leave your gift where it is and go to your “brother.” The temptation, of course, for the generous giver is to think that a major gift covers a lot of small issues in another part of one’s life. And that might have been true for the religious leaders of those days and, perhaps, even of today. A large gift can close a lot of eyes. But not the eyes of the Lord. God apparently would rather have the giver stay at home with his gift, if he is planning to approach the alter while there is resentment and hostility in the background.

Gordon MacDonald, Generosity: Moving Toward a Life that is Truly Life

A NEXT STEP

Personal heart change is a necessary first step toward personal life change. That principle is at the core of Jesus’ teaching.

In the Matthew 5 passage referenced above, we are called to place interpersonal reconciliation above correct ritual. While we cannot guarantee that another person will agree to be reconciled with us, we should make every effort “as far as it depends on you” (Romans 12:18).

As the leadership of your church begins with the leadership of yourself, how have you recently applied this passage to your own life? Are there un-reconciled relationships between you and a staff member or church leader?

What is the relational health of your staff? Are their offerings hindered by unhealthy relationships with one another or other church leaders?
It will take courage, but engage those closest to you in humility and a posture of grace. Begin by asking forgiveness first, then opening the door for relational repair.

As your leadership climate becomes healthier, grow a culture of generosity church-wide by creating a safe environment to talk about what matters the most. If healthy stewardship conversations cannot happen among the staff, it will never become cultural among the congregation.


Closing Thoughts

Because a giving God expects a giving people, the generous Christian should be a joyous giver. We give as an expression of our new nature and life in Christ.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 30-3, December, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

How to Rewire Your Teams for Maximum Collaboration

Do key leaders in your organization only think about their ministry area and not the entire organization?

Divisions are necessary in all organizations, even churches. They provide the structure that allows your ministry to function smoothly. Every organization is divided into divisions, functions, or some type of grouping. Doing so allows each group to develop the special skill sets needed to make it function.

But when departments or functional areas become isolated from one another it causes problems. Leaders often refer to this as creating silos.

But organizational silos can also cause problems – the same structural benefits listed above also prevent the flow of information, focus, and control outward. In order for an organization to work efficiently, decisions need to be made across silos.

To break the down the barriers of silos in your organization, the goal is not to destroy the meaningful structural divisions themselves but to eliminate the problems that silos cause.

Many organizations will face the following barriers:

  • Uncoordinated decision-making
  • Competing priorities
  • Dilution of energy and effort

The following excerpt will provide your organization tools to help break down the silos in your organization.

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THE QUICK SUMMARYMidnight Lunch, Sarah Miller Caldicott

Thomas Edison created multi-billion dollar industries that still exist today. What many people don’t realize is that his innovations were generated through focused approaches to teamwork and collaboration.

Authored by the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, Midnight Lunch provides an intriguing look at how to use Edison’s collaboration methods to strengthen live and virtual teams today.

 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

A church accomplishing its mission requires many people working on multiple teams to be successful. Often, these teams drift into a pattern of accomplishing things “their way,” erroneously thinking that what’s best for their team will be best for the organization as a whole.

This lack of coordinated decision making across the organization is the third indicator of silos in the organization.

True collaboration operates like an invisible glue that fuses learning, insight, purpose, complexity, and results together in one continuous effort.

Thomas Edison viewed true collaboration among his teams as a value creation continuum, recognizing that complexity was a norm that all team members needed to understand and address. Here is a four-phase model of the collaboration process that translates Edison’s decades of groundbreaking practices into language for the 21st Century leader. A core question serves as a launching point for the exploration of each phase.

> How do we create the foundation for true collaboration to flourish?

Phase 1 – Capacity: Select small, diverse teams of two to eight people who will thrive in an environment of discovery learning and collegiality.

> How can our collaboration team reframe the problem at hand, driving the greatest range of creativity and breakthrough solutions?

Phase 2 – Context: Focus the outlook of the team toward development of new context that broadly frames the problem or challenge under consideration. Use a combination of individual learning plus hands-on activities to drive perspectives for potential solutions.

> Can the collaboration team stay the course and continue forward despite disagreements?

Phase 3 – Coherence: Maintain collaboration momentum, creating frameworks for progress through inspiration and inspirational leadership even though disagreements may exist. Newly discover, or re-emphasize, the shared purpose that binds the team together.

> How can our collaboration team leverage internal and external networked resources nimbly and with speed?

Phase 4 – Complexity: Equip and reskill teams to implement new ideas or new solutions using internally and externally networked resources, rapidly accessing or managing complex data streams the team must navigate. Leave a footprint that contributes to a broader collective intelligence.

Sarah Miller Caldicott, Midnight Lunch

A NEXT STEP

Church leadership teams aren’t working to invent the next light bulb, but Edison’s Four Collaboration Phases can be instructive for leaders who want to break down silos on their teams

Within the four phases of capacity, context, coherence, and complexity lies the invisible glue that can help your organization develop true collaboration practices to achieve your mission.

Phase 1 – Capacity

Create your own “midnight lunch” experience by ordering pizza or other takeout food. Pick a unique place in your normal environment that is not normally associated with regular tasks, or go offsite. Use the informal atmosphere to foster conversations about interest areas of all your group members. Actively listen to the conversations, and develop a deeper level of knowledge – and connection – with your teammates.

Phase 2 – Context

As a team, take 10 minutes and create an individual list of the various sources of information you draw from each week. Does your team see a pattern in their lists? Now challenge them to create another list of five additional sources that will intentionally shift the context of their information-gathering. During weekly meetings, take five minutes to share how this new context is broadening their ministry context.

Phase 3 – Coherence

When team members begin to use self-referencing language (I, me, mine) more than team-referencing language (us, our, ours), it is an indicator that defenses are being raised and the team is in danger of losing coherence. Often, the language of the team is the first indicator of a team losing its momentum toward a shared goal. Lead your team to be constantly aware of their language, and guide them to practice inclusive language by first modeling it yourself.

Phase 4 – Complexity

Among all organizations, the church has the most potential for the existence of excessive hierarchy. To overcome this, lead your team to clear away internal roadblocks which add unnecessary time and complexity to your process. The use of the strategy map process above can be both a beginning point and continual guide to your journey toward simplification.


Closing Thoughts

Cooperation, communication, and collaboration are three keys to breaking down the organizational silos that are keeping you from achieving your mission.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 9-3, March, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

How to Increase Your Team’s Productivity by Modeling Your Own

You have a pretty good sense that most of your team has too much to handle and not enough time to get it done – you may not have a sense of how much you are contributing to the problem.

In our fast-paced, get-it-done-now culture, the fact is that almost everyone on your team could use some help in increasing their personal productivity. Why not show them how by modeling effectiveness in your leadership?

By its very nature ministry makes the “I’ve gotten something done today” feeling elusive. For many church leaders, there are no edges to their work – it’s not easy to tell when the work is finished, because it really never is. Most of your team have at least half a dozen things they are trying to achieve right now – today! And a pastoral need could arise at any moment to make that to-do list completely irrelevant.

To give your team practical help for personal productivity, blaze the trail by modeling a rock-solid work routine.

 

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THE QUICK SUMMARY

Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?

The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.

Manage Your Day-to-Day shows you how to build a rock-solid daily routine field in a constant barrage of messages, find focus amid chaos, and carve out the time you need to do the work that matters

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The biggest problem we face today is “reactionary workflow.” We live our lives pecking away at the many inboxes around us, trying to stay afloat by responding and reacting to the latest thing: emails, text messages, Tweets, Facebook, and Instagram posts, etc.

Because we are constantly connected to family, friends, and our co-workers, we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us. Being informed and connected becomes a disadvantage when the deluge of information overwhelms your ability to think and act.

It’s time to consider a change in your routine – one that will maximize your creative potential by allocating your best time of the day to it, and then allowing all the other “stuff” to come later.  

The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second.

The Building Blocks of a Great Routine

Of course, it’s all well and good to say buckle down and ignore pesky requests, but how can you do so on a daily basis?

Start with the rhythm of your energy levels. Certain times of day are especially conducive to focused creativity, thanks to circadian rhythms of arousal and mental alertness. Notice when you seem to have the most energy during the day, and dedicate those valuable periods to your most important creative work.

Use creative triggers. Stick to the same tools, the same surroundings, even the same background music, so that they become associative triggers for you to enter the creative zone.

Manage to-do list creep. Limit your daily to-do list. A 3” by 3” Post-It© is perfect – if you can’t fit everything into that size, how will you do it all in one day? If you keep adding to your to-do list during the day, you will never finish – and your motivation will plummet. Most things can wait till tomorrow – so let them.

Capture every commitment. Train yourself to record every commitment you make (to yourself and others) somewhere that will make it impossible to forget. This will help you respond to requests more efficiently and make you a better collaborator. More importantly, it will give you peace of mind – when you are confident that everything has been captured reliably, you can focus on the task at hand.

Establish hard edges in your day. Set a start time and a finish time for your workday – even if you work alone. Dedicate different times of day to different activities: creative work, meetings, correspondence, administrative work, and so on. These hard edges keep tasks from taking longer than they need to and encroaching on your other important work. They also help you avoid workaholism, which is far less productive than it looks.

– Mark McGuinness, Manage Your Day-to-Day

A NEXT STEP

Over a period of five weeks, commit to experimenting with each of the 5 Building Blocks, one each week. As you use each building block during your work day, evaluate moments of increase or moments of distraction, and modify that particular Building Block to drive effectiveness.

After one month of using the building blocks, make an honest assessment of your work routines by asking the following questions:

  • Do you feel that your work is more productive?
  • Can you list specific ways that your work is more productive?
  • What building block was the hardest to implement? Why?
  • What building block was the easiest to implement? Why?

After you have completed your personal assessment, ask a close colleague or two the same questions. Compare their answers to yours, and make any adjustments needed.


Closing Thoughts

Becoming effective in your own work habits will serve as both an inspiration and guide for your team. By demonstrating an effective, balanced role model, you are leading your team to effectiveness of vision, not just managing their output of activity.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 16-3, June, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

How to Use a Brain Trust to Spark Creativity on Your Team

In our fast-paced digital life, church leadership teams need to be creative in order to deal with the changes coming their way today – or they risk irrelevancy tomorrow.

Creativity then, becomes a constant process for every ministry area of any church rather than an occasional requirement for the worship pastor at Christmas or only limited to those “creative” churches.

Like farmers and their crops, leaders cannot dictate creativity, but they are called to cultivate creativity. Thinking and acting creatively doesn’t just happen because a leader desires it or orders it to happen. With the right environment, resources, mindset, and vision, your team will be able to develop the required motivation to be creative on their own.

How can I unleash the creativity of my team?

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Solution: Create a Brain Trust

THE QUICK SUMMARY

Creativity, Inc. is a book for leaders who want to lead their teams to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made.

It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation through joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, and the emotional authenticity. In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Among the many necessities for creativity is the freedom for a team to share ideas , comments, and critiques with one another. The flip side of that freedom is the danger of being too critical, or that critical comments are taken the wrong way.

How can leaders walk the fine line between encouraging open, honest dialogue among their team while at the same time avoiding negative, destructive criticism? 

Creativity has to start somewhere, and we are true believers in the power of bracing, candid feedback and the iterative process – reworking, reworking, and reworking again, until a flawed story finds its throughline or a hollow character finds a soul.

One of Pixar’s key mechanisms is the Braintrust, which we rely upon to push us toward excellence and to root out mediocrity. The Braintrust is our primary delivery system for straight talk. Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid with one another.

It’s not foolproof – sometimes the interactions only serve to highlight the difficulties of achieving candor – but when we get it right, the results are phenomenal. The Braintrust sets the tone for everything else we do.

Participants in the Braintrust do not prescribe how to fix the problems they diagnose. They test weak points, they make suggestions, but it is up to the director to settle on a path forward.

People who take on complicated creative projects become lost at some point in the process. In order to create, you must internalize and almost become the project for a while. Soon, the details converge to obscure the whole, and that makes it difficult to move forward substantially in any one direction.

No matter what, the process of coming to clarity takes patience and candor.

The Braintrust differs from other feedback mechanisms in two ways:

  • It is made up of people with a deep understanding of the process at hand and who have been through it themselves;
  • It has no authority – the director (leader) has to figure out how to address the feedback.

We believe that ideas only become great when they are challenged and tested.

– Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

A NEXT STEP

Does your leadership team debate, disagree, discuss, dump—or do you dialogue?  The group dynamics of a team can make or break your effectiveness as a leader.   Imagine what could happen in your ministry if you could lubricate your team’s communication skills.

Engaging the methods of dialogue results in two-way, open communication that generates an uninhibited flow of ideas in a “braintrust” environment.

Dialogue relates to more than communication—it involves creating an environment of trust, discipline and commitment to a common purpose where teams “think together.”

With an understanding of the basics of dialogue, the team must relentlessly:

  • Practice listening to hear, not to react
  • Practice asking to explore ideas, not to judge
  • Practice advocating an idea that focuses on the question at hand, not to defend a position

The core of dialogue is that there is understanding and discipline on the team that the question –the problem at hand—always remains the focus of the dialogue, with the church’s vision as primary filter. It works because individuals put aside egos, assumptions, emotions and agendas to focus on the question for the good of the whole–the collective vision of the church or ministry. In a true “Braintrust” dialogue, ideas get affirmed or challenged, not people.

Auxano, the consulting group I work for, has developed a hands-on tool to use in collaborative meetings that not only reinforces understanding of dialogue and team dynamics, but personally engages each individual to enter into productive, healthy collaboration and apply what they have learned.

We call it the Collaboration Cube.

Our Collaboration Cube takes these ideas to an experiential level that not only encourages team involvement in dialogue, but gives them the ability to apply it. The cube is used by the facilitator to guide the group, and by team members to communicate within the Braintrust.

Imagine creating a “Braintrust” at your church: a unified team that can work together and support decisions because they are results that people really care about and they evolved from a shared experience. What could you do with that kind of cohesive culture?  Give this method a try and watch the collective intelligence of your team and your decisions increase with results for your ministry that are unprecedented.

Read more about the Collaboration Cube, or visit our online store to purchase them


Closing Thoughts

Creativity and innovation are the life blood of a thriving ministry. But even the most creative team can become stale or fall into a rut of the same old same old. Your actions as a leader will determine if your team stays the same, or is constantly reinventing itself.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 15-3, May, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

What to Do When You’re Running On Empty

More days than we would like to admit, church leaders face the necessity of leading on an empty tank. The ever present needs of the body, the ongoing call to lead our families through challenging or exciting seasons, and the every day mechanics of ministry leadership compound to drain even the healthiest leader. In fact, the question is not will you ever lead from an empty tank, but HOW will you lead from an empty tank. More importantly, what should a Pastor do when that season emerges?

A pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul. Our concentration on skill and technique and strategy has resulted in deemphasizing the interior life. The outcome is an increasing number of men and women leading our churches who are emotionally empty and spiritually dry. – Lance Witt

It is time to face the reality that no numeric or other measurable short-term success in ministry can ever offset the long-term consequences of leading from an unhealthy spirit. What do you do when your tank runs dry?

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Solution: Make a pit stop to replenish and recalibrate.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Replenish, by Lance Witt

Every leader functions on two stages-the front stage or public world, and the back stage or private world. One cannot lead successfully front stage when one is completely depleted back stage. In a time when pastors are leaving the ministry in record numbers due to cynicism, disillusionment, weariness, health crises and personal scandals, there is an urgent need for soul care in the private lives of leaders.

Replenish helps leaders focus on the back stage, the interior life, in order to remain spiritually healthy. In a caring, encouraging tone, Lance Witt, former Executive Pastor at Saddleback Community Church shows pastors how to prioritize matters of the soul. Urging leaders to develop healthy spiritual practices and address problems that lead to burnout creates a healthy rhythm in their lives, improves their people skills and the spiritual climate of their team, develops better systems in their churches, and discovers how to lead an unhurried life.

For the many ministry leaders feeling alone, in over their heads, or simply worn out, this book will offer welcome relief and a healthy path forward.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In NASCAR, the race is won or lost in the pits. With a well-trained crew following the strategy of the crew chief (tasked with constantly adjusting to the realities of the race), a driver’s chances of being a winner are greatly enhanced.

Without a pit stop, though, it’s going to be a short race.

The same is true for leaders who think they can keep going and going, and going…

Instead of feeling constant pressure to be “on” all the time, leaders need to learn how to flow in a rhythm and pace themselves in between intensity and renewal. You really can’t balance the two, but you can work over a period of time to develop a rhythm where allowing for planned, intentional “pit stops” enables leaders to not only race strong, but finish well.

If you could plot the trajectory of your soul, where is it headed? Where you end up in ten or twenty years is largely determined by how well you manage what’s going on inside you now.

Leaders who stay spiritually healthy long term are those who learn the sacred rhythm of advance and retreat. There are times when we’re focused on the mission and taking the next hill for Christ’s kingdom. But you can’t stay on the front lines forever. You have to rest and regroup. In fact, the more fierce and intense the battle, the more you have to retreat.

Times of retreat have two powerful benefits:

Replenishing my soul. When I’m on retreat, something happens inside me that’s hard to explain. I have learned to slow my spirit, and I now realize the world can get along just fine without me for a little while. I am learning to “be” with my heavenly Father, and my soul is replenished in the process.

Recalibrating my perspective. As I ponder and pray, God regularly shifts my outlook by reminding me of what is really important. He regularly convicts me of getting so worked up over things that just aren’t that important. On retreat I have removed most of the white noise form my world, and I can be quiet enough to hear God’s voice.

– Lance Will, Replenish

A NEXT STEP

How do you know when you need a pit stop?

People who dream big and execute well run into particular hazards that most people don’t encounter.  Will Mancini has discovered that it’s not uncommon for a true ministry visionary to be tired. He has developed five causes that block the future-minded leader from feeling 100%.

At your next team meeting, write the following “formulas” on a white board or flip chart:

  • #1 God’s Vision + Man’s agendas  = Too much work
  • #2 Personal Driven-ness + God’s Vision = Too much work
  • #3 God’s Vision – God’s Timetable = Too much work
  • #4 God’s Vision – Empowering Others = Too much work
  • #5 God’s Vision – Personal Growth = Too much work

Reflect on each formula individually and discuss together as a team the extent that each formula is sapping the healthy lifestyle, mental sanity or energy-filled style that faithfulness to God and his vision deserves.

Create action steps to help each team member rewrite the formula in their own life, producing replenished leaders and a team built to finish the race.

Closing Thoughts

Godly leadership is always inside out. God has and always will choose to smile on men and women who are healthy, holy, & humble. – Lance Witt

By making a pit stop to replenish and recalibrate, leaders will help themselves and their teams keep a “full” tank and be healthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

 


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here. Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

How to Cultivate Long-Term Commitment Within Your Team

Many teams today are not really teams at all – organizationally, structurally, and motivationally they are not set up to work as individual parts of a larger, unified whole. Often they reflect outdated organizational charts that have little to do with current reality. There are times when a leader realizes their team is actually a collection of individuals who are looking out for themselves. Left in this state, a team can actually become a divisive and damaging cancer to the organization.

Is it little wonder, then, that leaders seek help in cultivating commitment within their teams? The problem isn’t necessarily with the team members or leaders themselves, but what the team is being asked to do: work together without any larger sense of organizational direction or purpose.

If your team needs a boost in commitment, consider taking the following action.

Solution: Create a robust culture where people buy in.

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – All  In, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

In the highest-performing teams and companies, managers create a “culture of belief,” following seven essential steps of leadership.
To have any hope of succeeding as a manager, you need to get your people all in.

Whether you manage the smallest of teams or a multi-continent organization, you are the owner of a work culture and few things will have a bigger impact on your performance than getting your people to buy into your ideas and your cause and to believe what they do matters.

Bestselling authors, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, answer the most overlooked leadership questions of our day: Why are some managers able to get their employees to commit wholeheartedly to their culture and give that extra push that leads to outstanding results? And how can managers at any level build and sustain a profitable, vibrant work-group culture of their own?

All In is a vital resource which will empower leaders everywhere to inspire a new level of commitment and performance.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Organizational consultants, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, used the results of a massive study of over 303,000 employees from 25 high-performance companies around the world to identify three characteristics that were present in every organization.

They found that team members who were engaged, enabled, and energized provided their organizations with a significant increase in performance.

Team members with high E + E + E characteristics were not only committed to the organization, but were enabled to constantly look for areas where they could add value to the organization, and demonstrate the energy to follow through on their commitments.

If your culture is clear, positive, and strong, then your people will buy into your ideas and cause, and most important, will believe what they do matters, and that they can make a difference.

In the highest performing cultures, leaders not only create high levels of engagement – manifested in a strong attachment to the organization and a willingness to give extra effort – but they also create environments that support productivity and performance, in which team members feel enabled. And finally, they help team members feel a greater sense of well-being and drive at work, in other words, people feel energized.

Engaged – Team members understand how their work benefits the larger organization, and have a clear understanding of how they are responsible and accountable for real results. They are also able to see the value of their contributions to the organization’s larger mission.

Enabled – The organization supports team members with the right tools and training, and leaders spend 75 percent of their time coaching and walking the floor to ensure that team members can navigate the demands of their responsibilities.

Energized – Leaders maintain feelings of well-being and high levels of energy through daily encouragement, helping team members balance work and home life, and recognizing individual contributions.

– Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, All In

A NEXT STEP

The authors of All In identified the three drivers of Engaged, Enabled, and Energized as necessary to create a strong organizational culture. Not only that, but any single driver without the other two will not produce exceptional results.

Use the following exercise at your next team meeting to determine the roadblocks your team may be encountering in trying to achieve the Engaged + Enabled + Energized goal.

Consider Engaged, Enabled, and Energized as destinations that your team needs to reach in order to be successful. For each of the three destinations, discuss the following questions:

  • What roadblocks are keeping our team from reaching our destination?
  • Who put them there, or keeps them there?
  • Who is most equipped to move each of them?
  • Which of our values assists in moving this roadblock? (To learn more about how working values or missional motivators define culture click here.)
  • What does the road to each destination look like with the roadblock gone?

Develop a plan to dismantle each of the roadblocks identified. Report on the progress monthly until all roadblocks have been cleared.

CLOSING THOUGHT

While all too often teams are “teams” in name only, individual commitment to a larger whole is an integral part of the success of any organization.

By creating a robust culture, church leaders can help their teams maintain commitment and accomplish their Great Commission call.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here. Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.