Escape the 9 to 5 Rut With a Virtual Office

If you ask people where they go when they really need to get work done, very few will respond “the office.” If they do say the office, they’ll include a qualifier such as “super early in the morning before anyone gets in” or “I stay late at night after everyone’s left” or “I sneak in on the weekend.”

What they’re trying to tell you is that it is hard to actually get work done at the office. The average office has become the last place people want to be when they really want to get work done during the day. How many Pastors actually study for Sunday in their office? Most have a home-office or office-within-the-office they retreat into.

That’s because offices have become disruption factories.

Meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, and important work – this type of effort takes stretches of uninterrupted time to get into the zone. But in most offices, such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one appointment or distraction after another.

Millions of workers and thousands of companies have already discovered the joys and benefits of working remotely.

Is it time your church considered current remote working options?

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Remote by Jason Fried and Davis Heinemeier Hansson

The “work from home” phenomenon is thoroughly explored in this illuminating new book from bestselling 37signals founders Fried and Hansson, who point to the surging trend of employees working from home (and anywhere else) and explain the challenges and unexpected benefits. Most important, they show why – with a few controversial exceptions such as Yahoo — more businesses will want to promote this new model of getting things done.

The Industrial Revolution’s “under one roof” model of conducting work is steadily declining owing to technology that is rapidly creating virtual workspaces and allowing workers to provide their vital contribution without physically clustering together. Today, the new paradigm is “move work to the workers, rather than workers to the workplace.” According to Reuters, one in five global workers telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day. Moms in particular will welcome this trend. A full 60% wish they had a flexible work option. But companies see advantages too in the way remote work increases their talent pool, reduces turnover, lessens their real estate footprint, and improves the ability to conduct business across multiple time zones, to name just a few advantages. In Remote, iconoclastic authors Fried and Hansson will convince readers that letting all or part of work teams function remotely is a great idea–and they’re going to show precisely how a remote work setup can be accomplished.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

9 to 5 is not just the name of a cheesy but funny 1980 movie; it’s also a practice engrained into our psyche which would have us believe that only during those hours at an office can real work take place.

It’s just not true anymore.

Think about it – if any of your work requires a computer, a few files, and your brainpower, do you really need to be in an office? Could you not just as easily do the work from a coffee shop, your kitchen table, or outside on a beautiful spring day?

Taking that thought further, do you even need to be doing that work in a specified time frame?

If the results of your work are the goal, then it’s time to consider remote work.

Remote work is about setting your team to be free to be the best it can be, whenever and wherever that might be.

Embracing remote work doesn’t mean you can’t have an office; just that it’s not required. It doesn’t mean all your employees can’t live in the same city, just that they don’t have to.

Your organization is probably already working remotely without you even knowing it. When you have legal issues, you probably don’t have lawyers on staff – you outsource the work to a lawyer or a law firm. Unless your organization is large enough for a full accounting staff, you probably outsource some or all of your financial work to a CPA or accounting firm. Human resources? Marketing? Lawn Care? Custodial Services? These are just a few examples of essential business activities being performed by outside people.

Every day this kind of remote work works, and no one considers it risk, reckless, or irresponsible. So why do so many of these same organizations that trust “outsiders” to do their critical work have such a hard time trusting “insiders” to work from home?

Look around inside your organization and notice what work already happens on the outside, or with minimal face-to-face interaction. You may be surprised to discover that your company is more remote than you think.

Jason Fried and Davis Heinemeier Hansson, Remote

A NEXT STEP

Conduct an “audit” of all the different types of work that goes on within your organization using the following process.

On a chart tablet, list all the work that is performed for your organization by an outside individual or group. Beside each item, write the frequency with which it is performed – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Beside the frequency, list the primary leader in your organization responsible for overseeing that work.

On a second chart tablet, list all the remaining work that is performed in your organization. As before, list both frequency and primary leader by the item.

As a team, review the work done inside your organization, and list up to 10 items that could conceivably be done remotely or outsourced. At this point, you are simply capturing ideas, not working out all the details.

Discuss the list of 10, and come to a consensus of which is most important by ranking them from 1 to 10.

Continuing that discussion, take the top three and list what it would take for that item to be moved from being accomplished onsite during specific hours to offsite or outsourced. Take the necessary steps to make it happen.

After three months, evaluate those three items; adjust as needed. Chose the next three times on the original list of 10, and repeat the process.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 67-2, issued May 2017


 

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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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Do You Understand Your Conflict Management Style?

How do you handle church conflict?

No matter how you define it, conflict is a serious issue that all church leaders face – all too often. You would think that a church “family” should be able to avoid conflict. But how often does your own biological family go through conflict of various intensities?

Your church family consists of hundreds or thousands of complex human relationships, all brought together under the banner of worshipping and serving God in this particular place and time.

You’ve invested yourself heavily in these relationships – as has everyone else to varying degrees. We all have expectations of each other – and when those are not met, the seeds of conflict are planted. Left unaddressed these small seeds can grow into a garden of weeds that choke out the healthy dialog needed to restore the relationship. The longer the situation goes untended, the greater the issue(s) magnify – until the weeds have taken over the garden and any hope of bearing fruit has been squeezed out entirely.

Is it possible to avoid conflict entirely? In a word, no. We’re too “human” to hope for that.

Can we transform and redeem conflict from a destructive force to one in which all parties come through the other side, better for the experience? In a word, yes. We’re children of a loving Father, and His love can see us through any level of conflict.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Discover Your Conflict Management Style, by Speed B. Leas

Speed B. Leas helps readers to assess their conflict response and discover options appropriate to different levels of conflict.

He draws on years of experience helping conflicted congregations to provide valuable insights on the nature of conflict and its resolution, making this an excellent tool for raising self-awareness and a practical introduction to conflict management.

This new edition contains an improved Conflict Strategy Instrument, revised to reflect new learnings and more accurately describe your conflict management style.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

When faced with almost any situation in life, most of us will respond on the basis of how we have handled similar encounters. Our response pattern is also influenced by the issue at hand or the individuals involved. For example, an individual may find controlling the conversation during an argument works best with his spouse. That same pattern will usually be taken in similar conflicts with others.

This “conflict management style” may be intentionally or unintentionally selected. It may also change depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the conflict.

If you accept the principle that conflict is a part of life, and that, over time, we adopt specific conflict management styles, then the natural progression delivers this: Identifying and understanding our conflict management styles will usually help us work through conflicts in a quicker and more satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved.

Understanding your conflict management style will help you become more comfortable with differences and encourage open and confident sharing of differences and concerns with one another.

This instrument identifies six different styles for managing differences: Persuading, Compelling, Avoiding/Accommodating, Collaborating, Negotiating, and Supporting.

Each can be an appropriate style, and none should be thought of as “bad” or inferior. A certain style can cause a problem when it is used inappropriately, but one should not assume that Avoiding is always wrong or that all conflicts must be confronted.

Persuasion strategies are those where a person or group attempts to change another’s point of view, way of thinking, feelings, or ideas. One attempting to persuade another uses rational approaches, deductive and inductive argument, and any other verbal means she thinks will work to convince the other that her opinion is the one that should prevail.

Most of the Compelling we experience in our day-to-day lives is not through the use of physical force but that which comes through the use of authority. Authority is the right we give to a person or group to make certain decisions for us – because it is expedient or because we can’t agree. Authority comes through a tacit or explicit contract we make with others.

When one Avoids a conflict, one evades or stays away from it, attempting to skirt it or keep it from happening. Ignoring a conflict is acting as if it weren’t going on. Fleeing is actively removing yourself from the arena in which conflict might take place. When you accommodate, you go along with the other, with the opposition. Procrastination is a common strategy used to avoid, ignore, or accommodate. Putting off dealing with the conflict may be the most common way that this set of strategies is used.

Collaborative conflict strategies are frequently touted as the best or only strategy to use when dealing with conflict. When one collaborates, one co-labors, works together, with others on the resolution of the difficulties that are being experienced.

Negotiating refers to a strategy that is very similar to Collaboration, except that the expectations of the parties are lower as they enter the conflict arena. People who use Negotiation are trying to get as much as they can, assuming that they will not get everything they want.

Often called communication skills or active listening, Support strategies assume that the other is the one with the problem. It is your task NOT to take responsibility for dealing with it, but to help the other deal with the problem.

Speed B. Leas, Discover Your Conflict Management Style

A NEXT STEP

Use the following team exercise to help everyone understand the different types of conflict management styles.

Create a fictional congregational situation that has the potential for being divisive. Develop a back-story and supporting characters.

Ask each member of your team to undertake one of the six types of conflict management styles listed above. If you have more than six on your team, partner up with others so there are six groups.

With the fictional situation in mind, allow 15 minutes for each group to develop a brief presentation for the rest of their group, based on their assigned conflict management style. The presentation should include highlights or bullet points written on a chart tablet.

When everyone has completed their work, have each group present their work to the entire team.

After each team has made their presentation, enter into a team discussion, working through each of the six conflict management styles. Ask individual team members to share which of the six they are most comfortable using, and which is most uncomfortable.

In closing, challenge the team to review and keep in mind these six conflict management styles as they lead their individual teams.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix Issue 66-2, issued May 2017


 

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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Working Remotely Starts With Your Culture

How can we maximize team effectiveness, as well as better steward Church resources, by leveraging cultural shifts in the workplace?

If you ask people where they go when they really need to get work done, very few will respond “the office.” If they do say the office, they’ll include a qualifier such as “super early in the morning before anyone gets in” or “I stay late at night after everyone’s left” or “I sneak in on the weekend.”

What they’re trying to tell you is that it is hard to actually get work done at the office. The average office has become the last place people want to be when they really want to get work done during the day. How many Pastors actually study for Sunday in their office? Most have a home-office or office-within-the-office they retreat into.

That’s because offices have become disruption factories.

Meaningful work, creative work, thoughtful work, and important work – this type of effort takes stretches of uninterrupted time to get into the zone. But in most offices, such long stretches just can’t be found. Instead, it’s just one appointment or distraction after another.

Millions of workers and thousands of companies have already discovered the joys and benefits of working remotely.

Is it time your church considered current remote working options?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Year Without Pants, by Scott Berkun

Fifty million websites, or 20 percent of the entire web, use WordPress software. The force behind WordPress.com is a convention-defying company called Automattic, Inc., whose 120 employees work from anywhere in the world they wish, barely use email, and launch improvements to their products dozens of times a day. With a fraction of the resources of Google, Amazon, or Facebook, they have a similar impact on the future of the Internet. How is this possible? What’s different about how they work, and what can other companies learn from their methods?

To find out, former Microsoft veteran Scott Berkun worked as a manager at WordPress.com, leading a team of young programmers developing new ideas. The Year Without Pants shares the secrets of WordPress.com’s phenomenal success from the inside. Berkun’s story reveals insights on creativity, productivity, and leadership from the kind of workplace that might be in everyone’s future.

  • Offers a fast-paced and entertaining insider’s account of how an amazing, powerful organization achieves impressive results
  • Includes vital lessons about work culture and managing creativity

The Year Without Pants shares what every organization can learn from the world-changing ideas for the future of work at the heart of Automattic’s success.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Culture is incredibly important when it comes to considering moving into the possibility of remote work. The stronger your culture, the less specific training and oversight is needed.

You don’t need everyone to be physically together to create a strong culture. After all, culture really isn’t found in a handbook or in a poster on a wall. Culture is about the actions and values being lived out day by day in your organization.

If your culture is strong, and is centered on your vision, then physical location of work being done toward those ends is – or should be – a minor concern. As a practical matter, most organizations today have blown past the work/personal life boundaries of prior generations.

Isn’t it time to recognize that, and bring a little common sense back into the equation?

Many people assume working remotely is a sham. It violates the bright yellow line that we pretend exists between work and home, a line shattered by laptops and movie e-mail years ago.

The very idea of working remotely seems strange to most people until they consider how much time at traditional workplaces is spent working purely through computers. If 50 percent of your interacting with coworkers is online, perhaps through e-mail and web browsers, you’re practically working remotely.

If remote work allows location to become irrelevant, you can hire the best talent in the world, wherever they are.

Remote work will succeed or fail because of company culture, not because of the feature itself.

Self-motivated people thrive when granted independence

Managers who want better performance must provide what their staff need

Remote work is a kind of trust, and trust works two ways. If someone who works for you wants to work remotely or use a new e-mail tool or brainstorming method, little is lost in letting him or her try it out. If his or her performance stays the same or improves, you win. If it goes poorly, you still win, as you’ve demonstrated your willingness to experiment, encouraging everyone who works for you to continue looking for ways to improve their performance.

Most people doubt online meetings can work, but they somehow overlook that most in-person meetings don’t work either. Being online does mean everyone might be distracted, but plenty of meetings today are filled with people with their laptops open, messaging each other about how bored they are.

Scott Berkun, The Year Without Pants

A NEXT STEP

When considering the move to having remote work as a regular part of your organizational routine, the strength of your present culture is a huge first step. Even with a strong culture, though, you as a leader need to be prepared for comments and criticism from within your organization, from the stakeholders outside the organization, and from the people your organization serves.

To prepare for dealing with these criticisms, write potential excuses for why remote work won’t work for you. Use the ideas below as starters, and add your own unique ones.

  • We can really only work when we’re all in a room
  • If I can’t see my team, how do I know they’re working?
  • Homes, coffee shops, etc. are full of distractions
  • Sensitive information won’t be secure offsite
  • What about when someone needs something NOW?
  • I’ll lose control of my team
  • We have a lot of resources (read, money) tied up in physical spaces

After you have completed the list, review it, and counter as many of the criticisms as possible. Don’t make this a solo exercise; involve your whole team in this process.

Working remotely isn’t without complication or occasional sacrifice. It’s about making things better for more people more of the time.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 67-1, issued May 2017


 

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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Leaders Forecast the Future

Do you feel like most days you are running on a ministry treadmill? You know the feeling – it’s when the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life as a leader. The sheer immediacy of each next event or ministry demand prevents you from taking the time to look to the future horizon – and sometimes even today’s calendar – until it crashes in on you.

All too often, today’s demands can choke out the needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value and prevents you from ministry with a clear sense of what God has called you to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Signals Are Talking, by Amy Webb

Amy Webb is a noted futurist who combines curiosity, skepticism, colorful storytelling, and deeply reported, real-world analysis in this essential book for understanding the future. The Signals Are Talking reveals a systemic way of evaluating new ideas bubbling up on the horizon – distinguishing what is a real trend from the merely trendy. This book helps us hear which signals are talking sense, and which are simply nonsense, so that we might know today what developments-especially those seemingly random ideas at the fringe as they converge and begin to move toward the mainstream-that have long-term consequence for tomorrow.

With the methodology developed in The Signals Are Talking, we learn how to think like a futurist and answer vitally important questions: How will a technology-like artificial intelligence, machine learning, self-driving cars, bio hacking, bots, and the Internet of Things – affect us personally? How will it impact our businesses and workplaces? How will it eventually change the way we live, work, play, and think-and how should we prepare for it now?

Most importantly, Webb persuasively shows that the future isn’t something that happens to us passively. Instead, she allows us to see ahead so that we may forecast what’s to come – challenging us to create our own preferred futures.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Forecast the Future

Though it may often seem like it, tomorrow doesn’t arrive fully formed, but develops in measured steps. The tomorrow in question is not a calendar day, but the whole spectrum of actions, activities, and personalities that together make up your future.

No, your tomorrow begins taking shape with seemingly disparate events from all directions around you. They may seem random, but in the right context these points will be discerned first as a fuzzy pattern before developing into a meaningful whole. Before you know it, your future has arrived.

Are you ready for the future? Maybe the bigger question should be, did you see it coming? 

No one should plan for a future she cannot see.

Futurists are skilled at listening to and interpreting the signals talking. It’s a learnable skill, and a process anyone can master. Futurists look for early patterns – pre-trends, if you will – as the scattered points on the fringe converge and begin moving toward the mainstream. They know most patterns will come to nothing, and so they watch and wait and test the patterns to find those few that will evolve into genuine trends.

Each trend is a looking glass into the future, a way to see over time’s horizon. The advantage of forecasting the future win this way is obvious. Organizations that can see trends early enough to take action have first-mover influence. But they can also help to inform and shape the broader context, conversing and collaborating with those in other fields to plan ahead.

One of the reasons you don’t recognize this moment in time as an era of great transformation is because it’s hard to recognize change. The pace of change has accelerated, as we are exposed to and adopt new technologies with greater enthusiasm and voracity each year.

Forecasting the future requires a certain amount of mental ambidexterity. Just as a piano player must control her left and right hands as she glides around the keyboard playing, you need to learn how to think in two ways at once – both monitoring what’s happening in the present and thinking how the present relates to the future.

Amy Webb, The Signals Are Talking

A NEXT STEP

Mapping the future for your church begins with identifying early signposts as you look out on the horizon. In order to chart the best way forward, you must understand emerging trends: what they are, what they aren’t, and how they operate.

Amy Webb has developed a six-part process that can help you forecast the future. These six steps were developed during a decade of research at the Future Today Institute.

  1. Find the Fringe – Make observations and harness information from the fringes of society or a particular area. What can you observe about the groups of people in your church that might look or act different from the majority? What motivates or demotivates them?
  2. Use CIPER – Uncover hidden patterns by searching for Contradictions, Inflections, Practices, Hacks, Extremes, and Rarities. Are there any “unwritten” rules at your church in parking, arrival time, or ministry patterns that tell a story?
  3. Ask the Right Questions – Determine if whether a pattern is really a trend.
  4. Calculate the ETA – Ensure that the timing is right for the trend and for your organization.
  5. Write Scenarios – Scenarios inform the strategy you will create to take the necessary action on a trend. Talk through any changes that you might make as a result of the discoveries above. What complications and opportunities emerge as you think through the impact on the congregation.
  6. Pressure-Test the Future – Are your scenarios comprehensive enough? Is the strategy you’re taking the right one for the future?

Write each one of the six steps above on a separate chart tablet. Set aside three hours with your team to work through the six steps above, answering the question “What is the future of X?” where X is a proposed new ministry initiative.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 64-1, April 2017


 

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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

The Love-Hate Confessions of a Horizontal Organizer

or, the domino effect in action.

courtesy Jeffrey Pioquinto CC 90412460@N00

courtesy Jeffrey Pioquinto CC 90412460@N00

A few years ago, my wife and I replaced our antique brass bed with a new bed. That led to a minor redecorating of our bedroom, which led to a major effort to simplify life in our house. As parents of four, but on the verge of being empty nesters, we decided to reduce our furniture footprint, change our room use around, and redecorate our house.

After a few trips to Goodwill to donate furniture, we had a working kitchen with plenty of space for 3 chefs at a time, a home office tucked away to one side, and an island for casual eating for 3. The family room acquired a new media center, much smaller than the previous one. The built-in book shelves were cleaned up, organized, and looked great. Free standing bookshelves were rearranged and relocated. New furniture was chosen and delivered to create a simple, clean look. The original dining room – our computer room and my office for 9 years – was returned to a dining room furnished with art from several Charleston trips. One of the front bedrooms – our daughter’s – became known as the Disney Princess room, decorated with Disney art and a Lego Disney Castle, all just waiting for our three granddaughters to visit. The other front bedroom became a mini-den, with two recliners and a small table with a large monitor for a temporary-as-neededed workstation. The entire downstairs ceilings were stripped of that awful popcorn ceiling and painted. All of the downstairs rooms were painted in shades of grey. My office was relocated upstairs to what was originally a bedroom for two of our sons, and also fulfills a guest bedroom role.

Therein lies the problem.

I’m a reader, researcher, writer, and editor for Auxano’s Vision Room. My title is Vision Room Curator, which is a really cool title, but functionally I read, research, and write – a lot of all three. Which involves books – lots of them (even in the digital reader age). And project files (I’m trying to go digital, but it’s taking awhile). More books, as in book towers – one for each year of SUMS Remix. And visual learning objects – lots of Disney items including a Sorcerer Mickey hat and Mickey hands; gas station memorabilia; Starbucks cups and barista training materials; pirate gear and props, etc. – all related to projects I’m currently working on. Then there’s special family photos, challenge coins and patches of my Air Force son’s career, and did I mention books?

My name is Bob, and I’m a horizontal organizer.

I like the things I am working on spread out on a surface in front of me, where they can beckon me to continue working on them. Efficiency experts and time management gurus live in a world of vertical file management and a digital, paperless world, but me – not so much.

As a horizontal organizer, I am at a situational disadvantage. The whole world is set up to help keep vertically organized people on top of things. On the other hand, all my work is on top of things – my desk(s), the tops of filing cabinets, bookshelves, the nearby futon (I’m getting better, Anita – I really am!), and the floor.

As you have no doubt heard, a messy desk spread thick with paper and stacked high with books is the sign of a genius at work.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

The relocation of my office from the main level of our home to the second floor has had many benefits, not the least of which is increased domestic tranquility – a phrase not exclusively limited to governmental issues by any means. Because of my tendencies towards horizontal organization – actually, more like a full-out embrace – my working office is out of sight, but not out of mind – the office must also remain a guest room (but give me a couple hours notice, please, to ahem – rearrange things).

I’m sure I’ve got some resources somewhere around here on how to accomplish both…

Now – where did I put that book?

Special thanks to my youngest son Aaron, who in his senior year in college pointed me to the book The Art of Procrastination, by John Perry. After he bought the book, read it, and wrote a paper on procrastination the day it was due, he gave it to me to read.

Through it, I was introduced to the concept of horizontal organization. I’m looking forward to finding out more about Structured Procrastination, To-Do Lists, Procrastination as Perfectionism, and other strategies for the serial procrastinator.

In the meantime…

Recently, I became aware of another book with a similar topic: Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, from Leonardo and Darwin to You and Me. Author Andrew Santella explores a diverse group of individuals, from Charles Darwin to Leonardo Da Vinci to Frank Lloyd Wright, to ask why so many of our greatest inventors, artists, and scientists have led double lives as committed procrastinators. Here’s a couple of quotes:

In the process of trying to avoid one task, I was in fact completing many other tasks. Even procrastinators can become task-oriented, when the task they are oriented to is procrastinating.

Procrastination is really a kind of time travel, an attempt to manipulate time by transferring activities from the concrete past to an abstract future.

Indeed.

Developing a Generous Life: Downsize to Maximize

How can you experience the transforming power of a generous life? 

Generosity is a testimony of God’s grace in your life. It affirms your faith and it is how God desires to work around the world. You are declaring your faith again and again every time you give. When you then give extravagantly, you are truly participating at a high level in the advancement of the gospel mission. You perceive in an increasing way, what is important to God, how He works in the world, and desires to partner with you.

But where do you start in developing a generous life?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

Most of us know we own too much stuff. We feel the weight and burden of our clutter, and we tire of cleaning and managing and organizing.

While excess consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, fancier technology, and cluttered homes, it never brings happiness. Rather, it results in a desire for more. It redirects our greatest passions to things that can never fulfill. And it distracts us from the very life we wish we were living. In The More of Less, Joshua Becker, helps you….

  • recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less
  • realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams
  • craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering your home and life
  • experience the joys of generosity
  • learn why the best part of minimalism isn’t a clean house, it’s a full life

The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. It’s in what it gives.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Downsize to Maximize

Contentment is a lifelong pursuit. It truly is hard to be content. As a matter of fact, you have to learn how to be content. Here are two words that can help: process and perspective. Contentment is not an event or experience, it is a trained discipline of the soul. Perspective is the active ingredient that enables contentment in many different trying situations. 

Once we let go of the things that dont matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.

There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in pursuing more. In a world that constantly tells us to buy more and more, we often lose sight of that. But consider the life-giving benefits. You can expect a payoff in every one of the following areas if you practice the principles of minimalism taught in The More of Less.

More time and energy – the fewer things we have, the more of our time and energy we’ll have left to devote to other pursuits that matter more to us.

More money – by buying fewer things, we spend less money.

More generosity – there are countless opportunities worth vastly more than material accumulation.

More freedom – every time we remove an unnecessary item, we gain back a little freedom.

Less stress – every added possession increases the worry in our lives.

Less distraction – everything around us competes for our attention.

Less environmental impact – overconsumption accelerates the destruction of natural resources.

Higher-quality belongings – owning more stuff is not better; owning better stuff is better.

A better example for our kids – give your children a framework to counteract the out-of-control lifestyle marketed to them.

Less comparison – purposefully owning less begins to take us out of the unwinnable game of comparison.

More contentment – material possessions will never fully satisfy the desires of our hearts.

Joshua Becker, The More of Less

A NEXT STEP

If we were to be honest with ourselves, many of us could identify with a five-year old when it comes to buying and owning things. We’re captivated by the glamour of things – and we want them now!

Which over time means we end up with a home full of clutter.

So where do you actually start trying to clear out all that stuff you own?

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 principle. It’s a generality, but it has proven true in many areas of life. How about trying it in the area of your possessions?

It means that you use 20 percent of your stuff 80 percent of the time, and you use the other 80 percent of your stuff only 20 percent of the time. Within that 80 percent of your stuff that mostly just lies around, there should be plenty of choices to start trimming down clutter.

Start with the areas of your home that you use frequently. Living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms are a great place to start because you will quickly see the benefits of getting rid of stuff.

As you move from room to room, just put things in a box for later sorting. The idea is to start simplifying your life so you will see the benefits. Now it’s time for the fun.
Have a personal garage sale and give your profit back to the church or specific missionary. Alternately, you could donate to a local organization that can resell for ministry funds. Bottom line, keep the big-picture in mind.

Now step back and take a look at the results, and start the peace that comes from living in a home that has enough – but not too much. And the joy of leveraging your excess for Kingdom access.

Even if the benefits in the list above and the short exercise above were the only reasons for practicing contentment and minimalism, they would be enough. But there’s more. There’s also the personalized benefit each of us can get from minimalism. Getting rid of what you don’t need is the first step toward crafting the life you want.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 65-1, issued April 2017


 

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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Leaders Execute the Vision

Does your lack of organizational focus keep everyone too busy – especially you?

 Do you feel like most days you are running on a ministry treadmill? You know the feeling – it’s when the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life as a leader. The sheer immediacy of each next event or ministry demand prevents you from taking the time to look to the future horizon – and sometimes even today’s calendar – until it crashes in on you.

All too often, today’s demands can choke out the needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value and prevents you from ministry with a clear sense of what God has called you to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Escape Velocity by Geoffrey A. More

In Escape Velocity, Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the marketing masterwork Crossing the Chasm, teaches twenty-first century enterprises how to overcome the pull of the past and reorient their organizations to meet a new era of competition. The world’s leading high-tech business strategist, Moore connects the dots between bold strategies and effective execution, with an action plan that elucidates the link between senior executives and every other branch of a company.

For anyone aiming for the pinnacle of success, Escape Velocity is an irreplaceable roadmap to the top.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

While forecasting the future should be seen as a necessary action for ministry today, Auxano Founder and Team Leader Will Mancini believes that for every leader who surfs the waves of cultural change there are a hundred who are stuck in a whirlpool vortex – and they feel they can’t keep their heads above the waters.

The world outside us is not stuck. It is changing rapidly even as we find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into the comfort of yesterday.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board for vision, strategy, and execution.

The larger and more successful the enterprise, the greater the inertial mass, the harder it is to alter course and speed.

What if there is some hidden force that is working against your best efforts? What if this force is operating inside your own company, with the full support of your executive team, your board, and indeed yourself? What if this force is able to mysteriously redirect resource allocation so that it never quite gets deployed against new agendas? That force is the pull of the past.

To move beyond the pull of the past, you must organize and shape your approach to the planning effort of next year with three goals foremost:

Articulate a compelling vision of the future that others will want to support.

Set a strategy consistent with your vision.

Resource your execution so that it can accomplish your highest aspirations.

To free your organization’s future from the pull of the past, to escape the gravitational field of your prior year’s operating plan, you need to apply a force that is greater than the inertial momentum of current operations.

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to continue in the direction in which it is currently moving. The same goes for resource allocation.

When organizations begin their strategic planning effort by circulating last year’s operating plan, they reinforce the inertial properties of the resources as currently allocated. This is not a good outcome, but to be frank, there is no help for it.

What you can do, however, is get yourself and your colleagues out in front of it. Execution is acting and reacting in real time to an ever-changing set of circumstances, all the while maintaining your strategic intent. Execution power, by contrast, is created in advance of the real-time moment of truth and focuses on getting the right resources in the right position for maximum impact and efficiency.

Geoffrey A. Moore, Escape Velocity

A NEXT STEP

It’s time to develop a visionary state of mind by practicing two essentials. First, you need to grasp that clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything. Too many times, church leaders are making decisions and having conversations without the vantage point of clarity first. Is there anything greater that we should be working on? Why would we put our foot on the gas petal before the fog lifts? All activity is not progress. In churches today, it’s all too easy to be busy without intention or direction.

Second, we need to state our vision framework before we frame our vision statement. Leaders must work from a common template to understand and communicate vision, or everyone will stay confused. The story and vision of the church won’t work its way into staff meetings, volunteer training, membership moments, casual conversations or our prayer lives.

Introducing the Vision Frame

No leader should lead, no team should meet, and no initiative should start without understanding the Vision Frame. In short, the Vision Frame reminds us that there are five irreducible questions of clarity. Your church’s vision isn’t totally clear until your leadership team can answer all five questions in a concise and compelling way:

  • MISSION as Missional Mandate: What are we doing?
    The missional mandate is a clear and concise statement describing what your church is ultimately supposed to be doing.
  • VALUES as Missional Motives: Why are we doing it?
    Missional motives are shared convictions that guide the actions and reveal the strengths of your church.
  • STRATEGY as Missional Map: How are we doing it?
    The missional map is the process or picture that demonstrates how your church will accomplish its mandate on the broadest level.
  • MEASURES as Missional Life Marks: When are we successful?
    Missional life marks are a set of attributes in an individual’s life that define or reflect the accomplishment of the church’s missional mandate.
  • VISIONPROPER as Missional Mountaintop + Milestones: Where is God taking us?
    Vision Proper is the living language that anticipates and illustrates God’s better intermediate future.

When you commit to clarity, great things happen. You empower a movement of people to tell the story of what God is doing in and through your church. You can seamlessly share the what, the why, and the how.

Don’t let all the different vision terms and concepts excuse you from being an everyday visionary. It’s time to stop stabbing at the future with a few short phrases. You can guide your church with stunning clarity. Remember Jesus. He walked on Earth with total clarity about His identity, His mission and His destiny. Shouldn’t His body today do the same?

Download a Vision Frame Overview and work through it with your lead team.

Start a conversation with an Auxano Navigator today to learn more about how the Vision Frame can help you execute your vision.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 64-2, released April 2017.


 

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. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.