Categories
youth ministry

Over-communicate with your leaders

Want to avoid confusion with your team? Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

I define a leader as someone who takes people somewhere they would otherwise not go on their own.

All-too-often, as I look back on my life in leadership, my tendency is always to get a mile ahead of my team because I have under-communicated the basics with them.

Why are we doing this? What’s our intent? What do we want to get out of this experience? Who are we targeting with our ministry? Why are you serving? How can we accomplish our goals? When is the best time to do this? On and on.

Every once in a while I’d get this feedback: “I know you have a reason for everything we do, and you’ve given us all the information about what we are doing, but I am not understanding why/how this is going to happen.” When I was young in leadership I somehow too this as a compliment. But now I see it for what it is… a weakness I need to address.

When my team lacks focus and drive to execute the vision– That’s my fault not theirs. I tend to communicate the vision too little and the share details too much. In the moment, the logistical details seem more important than the over-arching vision. But in the end, you need both.

You will have leaders who are OK knowing stuff as they go. But to really take a ministry somewhere you need to execute along the way to accomplish the vision.

3 Ways I combat my tendency to under-communicate

  1. Give people the big picture often. Before each ministry cycles starts, (school year, calendar year, however your church does it) schedule a meeting with key leaders to go over the plan. When I do this I present a white paper for the year as well as the teaching calendar, event calendar, and a description of a discipled person. In other words, I start with the end in mind and show my team how we’re going to get there together. In youth ministry, at about the same time, I host a parents meeting and go over the same information… plus some other stuff like cost of events, permission slips, etc.
  2. Put your pedagogical statement out there. It feels cheesy to think about, and I totally stole it from Doug Field’s youth ministry classic, “Purpose-driven Youth Ministry,” but I think it’s useful to put the purpose for a ministry, in writing, on everything you do. Even better, when I am teaching a lesson and there is a handout for leaders, I also like to give them a quick sentence about what we are teaching. “The main idea of tonight’s lesson is that students will learn ______.” This puts your leaders on the inside, thinking of your teaching strategy right alongside of you, and values their intelligence/abilities.
  3. Get stuff to people early. This is the one I wrestle with the most because you’ll always have some people who feel like they need every detail when you can only provide the big picture. Such as, I have volunteers who want small group questions 1-2 weeks in advance so they can think about it in advance. The problem is that I can’t give that because I rarely actually work on the talk until 24-48 hours before I teach it. But I can tell them the passage and the main idea of the lesson. And usually, that’s enough. The same is true for events and trips. I need to give them the information early enough where they can rearrange their schedule and jump on board to help. If I forget, or am lacking, in that then I should expect them to bail on me.
Categories
Church Leadership family management

You need clarity and focus

Paul’s teacher has been on us for a few months to get his eyes checked out. She’d tell us, “He squints to see the board” or “He says he has to sit up front. I think he needs glasses.

I assumed, just like his big sister, that he’d need glasses eventually. Everyone in my family wears glasses. It’s an inevitability for McLane’s.

Until recently, he never complained about not being able to see well. When we asked him to read a sign or move back from the TV he’d just roll his eyes. In truth, there are a number of behavior issues we are dealing with, so we thought this stubbornness about sitting near the TV was just part of his personality.

It all made sense when I took him to Lenscrafters on Saturday. He was very excited and talkative about the appointment. As we waited for the doctor to see him, he was a nervous kind of chipper that we rarely see.

Then he did the pre-screening. He seemed to instantly shut down. There were four machines with simple tasks. In each of them he was excited to do it. But in each of them when the doctor asked him questions he just didn’t answer.

Uh oh, this isn’t going well.” I sent Kristen a text.

When the pre-screening was over I asked him why he didn’t answer any of the questions. “She was trying to trick me. I never saw anything like she was saying I should. I’m not going to answer and get an answer wrong, I only like correct answers.

That’s when I started to worry. It hit me. It’s not that he wasn’t trying. It’s that he had just failed all four of the pre-screening tests. Had we somehow missed something all along? Does my son have a vision problem?

My mind raced to connect the dots.

Then we went into the big room. The one with the hydraulic chair and big eyeglass contraption. The chair was on one wall and the chart with all the letters was on the other.

Paul, there are no wrong answers. This isn’t an eye test. We’re just seeing how we can help you see better. Is that OK?” He shook his head affirmatively.

She explained what all of the instruments were in the room– so he wouldn’t be surprised by anything. (My heart was pumping a million miles per hour!)

Paul, can you tell me if you see any letter on the wall right in front of you?

Letters? All I see is a white wall.”

She pulled a pen from her pocket and held it about 2 feet from his face.

Can you read the letters on this pen?

Of course I can, duh!” He was starting to have fun.

Within a few minutes she started dialing her contraption to discover the right lenses which would help Paul.

She flashed the first set in front of his face.

Ha! Ha! Now I see the poster on the wall. You weren’t tricking me.

On and on this went. Within a few minutes he was able to read the smallest letters on the chart with ease. First with one eye, then the other.

Finally, she made some measurements and pulled out two lenses from desk. Just as she was putting them in front of his eyes she said, “OK Paul, tell me what you can see now?

His face lit up. He quickly started looking around the room. “Wow! I can see everything.”

A smile was plastered on his face like one I’d rarely seen.

I beamed at his discovery.

The doctor turned to me and said, “Your son is profoundly nearsighted. But he doesn’t have a vision problem. He has a clarity and focus problem. Glasses are going to change everything.

That was a lightbulb moment for me. My mind started to race at all the times I’d taken him to sporting events or movies and he’d turned to me and said, “Can we leave? This is boring.” Or all of the blank stares when we pointed out historic sites. Or why he burned through quarter after quarter looking at New York City through those big binoculars. Or why he hated playing catch with me in the backyard. Or why riding his bike had always seemed so scary. On and on– the dots began to connect.

How many of the behavior problems that we pull our hair out over are tied to this one simple thing… He couldn’t see?

We will soon find out.

The hour between ordering his glasses and picking them up might have been the longest 60 minutes of his life. We wondered the mall aimlessly. And about every 2 minutes he’d ask… “How much longer?

Finally, the time came and the lab technician called his name. As he put the glasses on his face and the technician made adjustments to the frames, I could see his eyes shooting all over. He was reading and discovering everything in the room. It was a brand new world!

As we left the store he grabbed my arm. “Dad, look at those clouds!

What the moral of the story?

There’s a lot of talk in leadership circles about having strong vision. But vision without clarity and focus on purpose will lead you, your organization, and your teams to become near-sighted.

It’s one thing to have big vision. It’s another thing to back that up with clarity and focus.

Categories
Christian Living Church Leadership

4 Clarifying questions to begin my day

Am I called to lead or to serve?

Am I called to give or to receive?

Am I called to prosper or to sacrifice?

Am I called to endure or conquer?

Categories
Church Leadership

What motivates people?

Some stuff to chew on, right? How does this correlate to church leadership?

We spend a lot of time talking about ownership. But I don’t hear a lot of talk about autonomy.

Ultimately, church is just a closed system.

Categories
family

3 Ways to Celebrate My Birthday

Erin & I celebrate our shared birthday last year at Lucha Libre Taco Shop, June 2nd 2009

So, today I  turn 34. Dang I am old. Here’s how long I’m going to lament about getting older. (One mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi.)

That’s enough self-pity. I feel better now.

Now back to being bossy.

I’m not much of a birthday guy. I like other people’s birthdays. I love my children’s birthdays. But I don’t really get into my birthday. Maybe I have daddy issues? Maybe I am not over getting a Grover birthday cake when I was 5 when I really wanted a Cookie Monster cake? Or maybe I’m just socially awkward? Who cares… let’s talk about what you can do for me on my birthday.

Three ways that you can celebrate my birthday which will make me smile.

  1. Do something, anything, to impact your community for Jesus. Bring a can to your church. Here are 10 more ideas.
  2. Give to my Haiti fund. $5, $10, $20. If you aren’t able to go please make it a bit easier for Kristen, Erin, and I to be Good News in Port-au-Prince this July. We’ve raised about $750 of the $2500 we need.
  3. Meet me at Triple Crown Pub tonight at 7. A dive bar is a weird place to ask you to show up, I know. Here’s the fun bit. Every penny of profit for whatever you order will go to the Haiti Fund. That’s right boys-n-girls. The Triple Crown by be a dive bar– but the owner has a big heart and is willing to make it easy for you to give.
Categories
hmm... thoughts

Desert Questions