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Monday
Aug182014

GLS 2014

i'm in full processing, full heart, fully challenged Global Leadership Summit mode. for the first time, last week, we hosted the Summit at Willow Chicago, which allowed us to bring our very own volunteers and key leaders for the first time, which of course, was the highlight of the time for me.

i've attended the Summit for a super-super long time, possibly my first event was in 1996, while serving as a Promiseland Coach. i've attended every year since, minus a few years when my parents scheduled our family camping trip during the event -- including the year BILL CLINTON spoke. i have such a clear, funny memory of bowling with my entire family during a raining day somewhere in Canada at the exact time BILL was taking the stage, and all sorts of secret service excitement was happening in barrington. i've since forgiven my parents. {hi, MOM!}

i have all kinds of things to say about this year's event. first, truly, the unsung heroes of any learning conference, always, are the content developers. the way they shape the experience by guiding speakers, the content, and the full event experience is magical. if, at the end of an event, you feel as if you've been on a continuous journey, and that you've been moved from one point to another, that's due to a talented content developer who worked hard to make that happen. the Summit, this year, was next level, content magic. every speaker, every word, every session so intentional. 

next, BILL HYBEL'S opening session was SO GOOD. his words on resourcefulness as the leader's secret weapon is my key take-away. he gave permission for leaders to not have all the answers, to not always know the path, but to instead develop the skill of resourcefulness by exhibiting creativity, collaboration, determination when faced with a new path. excellent. 

also, WILFREDO de JESUS on knowing the needs of your community, and responding to those needs was so personally meaningful for me. i don't want to make ministry complicated, because really, it's so simple. know your people, know the community, and walk towards need, demonstrating love + grace + care. this will be my anchor as i move into this new ministry season. 

JOSEPH GRENNY, a star, of course. his crucial conversations book has been instrumental in shaping our staff culture -- in which we give each other real time, honest feedback, always. if you haven't yet seen this talk, specifically, HIGHLY recommend. 

and, and, and. PATRICK LENCIONI. always, my favorite. his presentation style, his leadership wisdom, all of it. his session on the most dangerous mistakes leaders make was SO good. all 3 mistakes undergirded with themes of servant leadership, humility, vulnerability, and THIS, "when leaders calculate ROI, it's just economics. if it's not servant leadership, it's just economics because the only real payoff for leadership is eternal." STOP. and, "the best leaders show their sweat, their humanity. you can't be too vulnerable as a leader. that's how folks trust you." so good. 

finally, being with your team at a conference is very good. i had inklings about what the event might mean for each person, but really, i had no idea what God might do in each person's spirit. grateful heart today for my team, for new challenges, and much-needed inspiration for the road ahead.  

Wednesday
Aug062014

eliminating {let me know}

it's been three years since i first wrote the post below, and still it's one of my most valuable starting places as i provide care and blessing for those in my church. in my role as family pastor, i use {eliminating let me know} as my guiding rule when i'm thinking about how to respond to a family in need, or communicate with a volunteer. may it be helpful for you, too--

{repost: june, 2011}

i'm trying to eliminate the phrase let me know from my vocabulary. 

here's what i've found. the phrase let me know in most situations doesn't accomplish what i'm hoping for. it allows for vagueness, stalling, and sometimes even backwards motion. i'm trying instead to spend my energy thinking of more direct phrases.

for example: when someone at church has a baby, we often say "congrats! i'd love to bring you dinner. let me know when a good time would be, and let me know what you would like to eat." woa. that's a lot of mental energy for brand new parents. in order to receive a tasty meal, the new parents have to look at their calendar, call their meal provider, decide what they'd like to eat, and get the house ready. way too much effort. instead, what if we said, "i'd like to bring you a meal on either tuesday or thursday. how's 6:00? i'm thinking chicken fajitas. will this work for your family?"

see my point? usually, the person who says let me know has the option instead to offer a more direct question in order to eliminate additional work for the other person.

example #2: in the church, we often ask committed volunteers to step up their involvement. we'll say, "you're wonderful. and great. would you like to do more for the ministry?" hopefully the committed volunteer answers YES! then, we say "great! let me know what you'd like to do. we'll chat more later." and, you know what happens next. nothing. lots of excitement for zero forward movement. instead, what if we approached volunteers with specific roles in mind, and encouraged them to pray and respond. we do the work, so they are empowered to give a good answer.

eliminating let me know. i'm trying hard. somedays it's easier to simply say let me know and hope for the best. today, i'm trying a more direct approach.

Monday
Aug042014

on managing {various} types of energy

these days, i'm all about paying attention to my energy levels, and doing my best to manage the various types of energy i'm expending throughout the day. i'm a nerd. i'm aware. 

let's be clear. good energy really boils down to the quality of that first, great, iced-coffee of the day. bad morning coffee (or, worse! no morning coffee) = bad energy. it's simple, people. 

i've noticed -- in my job, there are different types of energy i need to expend throughout the week: People (one-on-one pastoral/leadership conversations), Thinking (high level, vision, long-term planning and problem-solving), Team (meetings in which I'm a contributor), Get-It-Done (tasks), and Sunday (game day, and a combo, really, of all the other categories). 

for me, recognizing the various types of energy and then planning my days accordingly has been the key. i've found that i work best, with the most mental clarity when i organize my days based on the different types of energies. currently, here's how my week looks:

MONDAY: Team, Get-It-Done -- i participate in staff meetings, and follow up on sunday related items. on sundays, i expend a lot of energy, so i need mondays to re-set, accomplish simple tasks, and participate well as a team contributor.  

TUESDAY: People -- i schedule all of my one-on-one pastoral and leadership conversations for this day: volunteer, parent, and staff planning meetings. expending my people energy on one day is exhilirating + exhausting (let's be honest), but it allows me to stay present and focused when i'm moving from one conversation to another, without the pressure or distraction of completing tasks in between. on my to-do list for tuesdays, i list: "Fully engage in meetings. Follow up post meetings." that's it. if i accomplish those things, i've been successful. also, this week, i'm experimenting with not checking email on tuesdays as an attempt to increase my mental presence with people.  

WEDNESDAY: Thinking -- this day, wednesday, could also be known as the anti-tuesday. i set aside this day for no meetings, and all-thinking. i arrive early to my favorite coffee shop and spend the entire day developing long-term ministry plans, researching new ideas, and pursuing partnerships. for this week, i have: further develop 2014-2015 ministry plan, finalize volunteer chart, and write global leadership process questions on my wednesday to-do list. all things i'll need plenty of space to think about. also! when a high-level question arises during the week, i don't have to panic about not having immediate answers. i can add it to the wednesday list, and know i'll have time to think through a creative, wise solution.  

THURSDAY: People, Get-It-Done -- because being a pastor requires more than just one full day of people, right? right. as i've been paying attention to my energy levels, i've noticed that i'm energized on thursday mornings (due to the energy that wednesdays give me), but exhausted by thursday afternoons (due to thursday being the final day of my work week). because of this, i'm trying to expend people energy in the mornings, and task-get-it-done energy in the afternoons. (as an aside: this post -- fantastic! a defnite encouragement for remaining present with people.) 

SUNDAY: Sunday -- the day all of the energies meet together. greeting, noticing people. following up, connecting on conversations. inspiring, informing volunteers. implementing curriculum, activities. because sundays are super-high-energy, i'm experimenting with ways to relax and transition on sunday afternoons and evenings. i've experimented with mindless activities (grocery shopping, errands) and mindful activities (continuing to work on tasks related to the upcoming week). but, neither have been just right. i picked up this book in hopes it would inspire new ideas. seriously, when it comes to this topic, my nerd status has no limits. 

final note. managing and scheduling my days according to energies is a helpful, mindful way for me to be productive and present throughout the week. of course, the life of a pastor always contains some level of unpredictability. this schedule is ideal, for me. but, not always the way the week actually goes. i must hold the ideal and the actual in tension, recognizing the good in both. 

cheers to this week, and all that it will bring (coffee, included).

Monday
Jul282014

rest > work

after a week at the beach, i'm back to work and life and hustle. as is our annual tradition, we spent the week at our favorite beach house with all of my family. most days, there were 12 of us in the house -- on the best days, we were a group of 18. we're big and loud and active and really into being together. we laughed, cooked, explored, swam, shopped and rested. all good, necessary things. 

going into this vacation, i felt very tired. a cumulation of a BUSY year of moving and starting a new job had left me desperate for time to rest and recover. as i headed out of the city i took with me a determination to set new, sustainable, slower rhythms of life and work, and this quote from Abide: 

work from rest, rather than rest from work

for too long, work has been my center, controlling steer. as work goes, so life goes. and, vacation and real rest have come as a result of too much work. but this is different. rest, abiding, as a way of life. 

because, really, my identity can not be as producer. i can't live like i'm being judged, or receiving value based on what i create, execute, implement or lead. my value is rooted in God's love, his chosenness of me. and, rest reminds me of these things. that, really, when i do nothing, i'm loved.

today, back to work, i'm carrying this mantra--work from rest--as if it's my most prized souvenir. 

Wednesday
Jul092014

the burden is not mine {alone}

remember THIS? sixty-days later -- i'm happy to report, co-leading is going very well. 

here's the thing. i'd been acting and leading like the entire weight, the whole burden was mine alone to bear. i shouldered the responsibility and internalized the anxiety until the breaking point. 

and then, i broke. in a leadership team meeting. so, that was awesome. and, really, if you're going to emotionally break down anywhere, that's where you want to do it. JOKING. the boss asked how we were doing. i said i was stressed, and feeling anxious about the growth we were experiencing, and the volunteers who were coming-and-going, and could someone please pass a tissue or ten quickly. 

but, really, the whole thing was pretty great. my colleagues rallied around me {in addition to handing me endless tissues}, they jumped into action praying for the ministry and helping problem solve the growth problems. i felt loved and reminded {again} the burden is not mine alone. 

because, really, church at it's best is a mutual expression that involves BOTH giving AND receiving. so, imagine my delight yesterday as a key volunteer told me she'd been in a season of giving to others for a long time, and when her mom passed away recently, she watched as the church dove head first into caring for her. she's now experienced both giving + receiving in the church. LOVE.

so, i remind myself, you too, AMY. give to AND receive from the church.  

but, there's one thing we must be clear on -- sharing the burden DOES NOT mean that i shrug off responsiblity. or lead lazy. or wait for others to do what is mine to do. actually, just the opposite. i LEAD. but, i lead best and with strength and clarity when i determine what is mine alone and what is to be shared. because when i'm clear on these things, my impact becomes deeper, fuller, richer. 

since my co-leading epiphany, i've been meeting with my most trusted volunteers, asking for their help in co-leading various projects. i've been showing up to these meetings WITHOUT fully developed plans, just an idea and an ask to co-lead, strategize, figure out the plans with me. and, it's going well. yesterday, after 3 meetings with my best people, i realized i had very little follow up to do. the work was in their hands now. and, that's good. the way it should be. 

strong leadership = sharing the burden, co-leading, trusting, enlisting.

because, also, HIS burden is light.