learning mistakes

Plurality in Discernment

Over the past few months I’ve processed some significant life changing stuff.

Before I said, “1-2-3 Jump” to joining The Youth Cartel, I forced myself into a discernment process. I knew the Spirit of God was telling me to move. But, in truth, what I was hearing was more clues than it was clear direction.

I knew it was time to do something else but I needed help knowing what it was.

Two fact-based fears lead me to a discernment process rather than a solo decision:

  1. Fear of making the wrong choice and costing myself a few years of setback.
  2. Knowledge that, left to myself, I’ve made a couple of wrong moves in the past.

The discernment group – plurality in decision

When things got serious and I knew I needed to make a decision soon I moved from talking to only Kristen about it to including four people in the process.

Here’s how I set that up:

  • I identified four people (they were all men this time) whom I respect, who know me in four different capacities, and whom I knew would not just blow smoke up my butt– they’d tell me the truth.
  • I asked them to be a part of it. To pray with and for me during the process. And to be available to exchange texts, emails, phone calls, or even get together a few times.
  • The four people wouldn’t ever meet. I’d meet with them separately and report back to Kristen what I was hearing and feeling.
  • I was up front that I needed to move quickly. So it would be a short, but intense, time.

The buckets

I knew I had five buckets of opportunity. These were five things I knew I could do. Discerning which bucket to fill was the first step, what to fill it with was the second.

  1. A youth ministry job in a local church or parachurch.
  2. A move to a similar role in another, existing, youth ministry organization.
  3. Freelancing McLane Creative.
  4. Starting my own youth ministry organization.
  5. Some combination of buckets.

The early process

There were a few significant points in the process. Each of the four drilled deeply into my time with YS. Each of the four sought to discover what I am passionate about. “If money weren’t a problem what would I dream about doing.” And questions like that.

Early in the process I spent a half day with Marko. (One of the four) He lead me through an exercise which plotted things I’m competent at doing, things I’m passionate about doing, and things that were opportunities. And we talked a lot about the impact of my work on my family.

At the end of that time two realities stared me in the face:

  1. As much as it was clear that I love the local church I shouldn’t seek a role in the church because that wasn’t a good mix for where I’m at right now.
  2. I really don’t want to live anywhere else right now. San Diego has become home our home.

I reported these learnings to the other three and they agreed with those two things. Which pretty much eliminated buckets 1 & 2.

Fear factor

Buckets 3 & 4 were both starting my own business. Something I wasn’t sure I had the energy nor the guts to do at this stage in life. (I’m 35, married with three young kids. Paying for college feels closer every day! Health insurance is ridiculous. On and on.) Having run my own business before I know that it’s a lot easier to work for someone than it is to work for yourself. Plus, starting a business is crazy with all the legal and tax implications to think through. I’ve been there before. Do I really want to go through all of that again?

The Aha Moment

Somewhere along that process, actually fairly early on, Marko and I exchanged text messages late one night. We were talking through a situation he was facing with the Cartel and it all kind of clicked. “Instead of starting my own thing why don’t we just work together?” That led to a flurry of calls and emails over the next few days.

I could do my own thing AND start The Youth Cartel with a Marko, someone I trusted and have walked with for a long time.

I took that idea back to the rest of the group. In truth, I wasn’t sure what they were going to say. As excited as I was about the prospects of it I was also committed to submitting to this groups wisdom. I didn’t want to just trust my heart on this. I wanted it to be a good, solid decision.

The resolution

The answers came really quick. All of them were excited about that. It would allow me to launch both McLane Creative and The Youth Cartel in similar trajectories with separate audiences. (Bucket five) While it was scary to think about going into start-up mode as a family of five… it was less scary than settling for something I didn’t feel called to do.

McLane Creative stuff would continue to push my creative and technological skills as I seek to best serve my non-church clients.

The Youth Cartel would serve my church-based clients with marketing and web stuff, but also allow me to push into other arenas I have huge interests in. Coaching/consulting, resource development, and speaking/hosting gatherings.

Maybe, if you’re going through something similar, this will help you? What decision-making processes have you used at significant moments? How could I improve this process? 

management maturity mistakes Notre Dame

You’ve got to finish

My little football heart got broken last night. First, San Diego State gave up a touchdown with 50 seconds left to giveaway a victory to #25 Missouri. That would have been their best start in 30+ years. Then, a few hours later, Notre Dame gave up a silly trick play for a touchdown to lose to Michigan State.

In both cases, it was about finishing the game. Both teams were sloppy. In one game, a lack of tackling discipline cost them the game. In the other, being over-aggressive cost them an embarrassing lose and landed them on Sportscenter for all the wrong reasons.

For those of us who lead, both games were a powerful reminder for finishing.

In life, just like in football, your last play leaves a lasting memory. No one cares how well SDSU or Notre Dame played on Saturday. We’ll only remember the embarrassing finish.

Do you have a strategy for finishing a project well?