This post may be a little out there for some people. We just returned from another trip to Riley Children’s Hospital. Madison has been suffering from some chest pain for a few weeks. Some of the best Doctors in the US cannot find a physical reason for her pain. Some of my friends believe this may be spiritual in nature. I know, I know, you may think that is weird. I will tell you that once you have seen spiritual things in places like Africa and Haiti, your perspective on the spiritual world changes.
Several have been fighting with us through prayer. Will you join in the fight? I am asking all my friends to pray. Can I be honest? We don’t need some sissified drive-by prayers. We need prayers with some fight in them. Prayers that are focused on dropping whatever grip this has on my daughter. Prayers to relieve worry, reduce pain, and bring complete healing.
We serve a God who is able to heal. Would you join me in asking him to heal Madison?
Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed. – Ecc 10:10
I am a big believer in productivity. I want to leverage as much as I can in order to get the best results possible. I want to work with great wisdom. However, with a thousand things coming each day, sometimes it seems impossible to be productuive.
This week, I am experiementing with what could be the most productive thing I have done. This one act has already saved me tons of time this week. I bet it could save you time as well. I have been aware of this concept for some time, but have fought against doing it. This week I put it into practice and I am liking the results. This one simple act could give you more time during the day. It’s a simple practice:
Check your email twice a day.
The latest studies suggest that multi-tasking is less productive than bursts of focused energy. When we check email multiple times a day, we are bouncing around, allowing the email content to dictate our schedule, and wasting times between tasks. I have found that when I batch (and attack) my emails twice per day I can (1) get through them in a timely manner and (2) be more focused on the task at hand.
I have been surprised at how difficult this is to do. Ever few minutes a zap in my brain says “Check your email.” I’m still working through this process, but so far so good. It has allowed my mind to focus entirely on what I am working on at the moment. When I am Life Journaling, studying, or preparing for a sermon, I can put the thoughts of email out of my mind. I know that I have a space in my day where I will check email. I will get to it. Right now I need to focus on the task at hand.
Checking email twice a day is one wise thing I am doing in order to sharpen the axe. What are some things you are doing to work smarter?
Last week we lost two boys in a tragic accident. Noah Worthington was a friend of Madison, my youngest daughter. Yesterday Madison and I went to the visitation. She spoke with Noah’s parents. I wanted to speak with them but I could not. I was a mess.
We walked around the room, looking at pictures and videos. Madison talked about Noah and some of their experiences. We stood next to casket and said goodbye. We cried. Together.
Afterward we sat on a bench and shared an ice cream. Together. We talked about death, life, family, friends, and memories. Together. It was a terrible and great evening.
The most productive people I meet are the most healthy. They are full of energy but know their limits. They take care of themselves. How can we take care of ourselves for maximum productivity?
Exercise. Until 8 years ago, I was not athletic in the least (unless you count being a manager for the basketball team in High School). I found myself pudgy and mentally sluggish. I began to exercise and after a couple years, I took up running. Exercise helps the brain to fire well and actually gives you more energy. Quick mind, more energy, and less fat. Why would you not?
Eat right. OK, I’m not so great in this arena. However, I do try to eat low fat and I rarely drink pop or caffeine. Water is much better for you, and cheaper!
Sleep. The better you sleep, the more productive you are. Figure out how much sleep you really need, and get it. If you find you need to sleep in, sleep in the night before. That’s right, go to bed early. Studies show that sleep gained before midnight is worth more than sleep after midnight.
Take time off. I was talking to a friend this week who said that he had one vacation in 4 years. I asked “Who’s fault is that?” He knew the answer and already has a vacation on the horizon. Here is what I know: time away from my job makes me better when I am here. Take your days off and take your vacation.
Laugh easy. Stop taking things so serious. Stop taking yourself so serious.
Drop in next time as we explore the use of calendars and lists.
Jan Springer from North Metro Church wrote me a couple months ago. His question: What about paid musicians? Where do you draw the line? Jan, I’ll give you my thoughts but let me first apologize for the delay in writing. Bad Blogger :>
I can’t speak for others, but I can speak for what we do in exchange (and at MCC). We do not pay our musicians. Fortunately, we don’t have to. I do not mean that to sound arrogant. We just have a group of musicians who love to play. Seriously, I think some of them would pay to play. Hmm, maybe I should try that :>
Here are some additional thoughts:
I can see paying a worship leader if you are requiring substantial time, have high expectations, and warrant many hours per week.
Get a clear answer on why you pay musicians.
If you pay one musician, you have to pay them all.
If you pay musicians, you should treat them like employees (or contractors at least). What I mean is this: you are paying for a service. If they don’t deliver or show up on time, that should be reflected in their compensation.
The worship leader goes from leader of volunteers to manager of contract employees. No thanks.
It could muddy the waters for serving. Where do you draw the line between serving and a paid job? Tough one to walk. Why not pay nursery workers?
Once you start, it is probably hard to stop.
I know some churches that feel they need to hire musicians. They may be small or young and need to hire each Sunday. Others may be large and want to run it like a business with union and/or professional musicians.
All that to say this: If I had to use paid musicians, I would set an end date and keep expectations as clear as possible.
Rick Newman brings us our number three thing we could learn from Bruce: Share the credit.
There’s been a lot of hype about Springsteen reuniting with his famed E Street Band for the first full tour since 2003, but come on — Springsteen, the man, is the draw, pure and simple. Still, this is one maestro who spreads the glory across the stage. Not once during the show does a spotlight shine on Springsteen alone. He continually calls out "Steve," "Clarence" and the other band members. And when they bow at the end, they bow together. – Rick Newman, US News and World Report
It is a picture I still have in my mind. We were in the throws of a full-on E street experience with sold out crowd in Chicago. The band was lighting it up Jersey- style. The crowd was singing along and the focus was not directly on the Boss man. Bruce walked over to long-time friend, Clarence. (Note to all Boss newbies: Clarence blows the sax for the man. And he is baaaaaaad). He stood beside Clarence and together they looked at the crowd. He reached down and grabbed Clarence’s hand and together they silently stared at the crowd. It was a brief moment that spoke volumes to me. A simple holding of hands that said "Can you believe this? Can you believe that we get to do this together? Don’t forget this moment we have. How lucky are we?"
It may have been the best part of the show for me. Springsteen doing his genuine best to share the limelight. We could learn a thing or two from that.
Any way that you cut it, church leadership is a team effort. If you think you are in it alone, you are wrong. If you think you can handle it alone, you are wronger :>
How can we share the credit? We need to realize . . .
God gets the credit for this gig. I realize that is the cliche thing to say, but it had better be true. God gets pretty worked up when other people take the glory away from him. It’s a dangerous place to be. A couple years ago I was pulling into our church parking lot. I looked at our large building and thought of our extensive ministries. I slowed the car and quickened my pride. I started to recount all the hard work, long hours, planning, and loss of sleep that had brought us to where we were. My pride got the best of me. I was proud for what I was part of building. At that moment I sensed the spirit of God say to me "Scot, what has happened here has been because of my hand. If you start to take credit for it, I will begin to remove my blessing." Gulp. Check please.
We need to operate as a team. I get a little sideways when I hear Pastor’s talk about "their church." Or something that "they" did. We can operate as a CEO who thinks that the church world revolves around us, or we can wake up and realize that this kingdom thing is based on many people doing many thing.
Leaders take the blame, share the fame. My Dad once said "When something goes wrong, you take the blame. You say "I." When something goes right, you share the fame, you say "We."" Smart man.
Life was meant to be lived together. I would much rather gather my team around me and celebrate a job well done than drive home alone and tell myself how good I am. When people compliment me, I state the dead-on truth: "We have a great team, I am glad to be a part of it."
There are unsung hero’s on your staff. There are people on your team who deserve some recognition. Share the love. Spread around the credit. Don’t be afraid to grab a few hands, take a look at the landscape, and say "Can you believe this?"
In part 3 of the Springsteen series, we explore another thought from Rick Newman and US News and World Report. Rick’s third observation from the Boss is that he gives the people what they want. Here are Rick’s own words:
Experiments get a more welcome reception when mingled with something familiar. Throughout the show, Springsteen deftly blended unembellished hits such as “Badlands” and “Born to Run,” performed pretty much the way everybody knows them, with darker, topical music; after appeasing his conscience, he quickly reverted to happier songs such as “The Promised Land” (irony intended, I presume) and “Dancing in the Dark.” The result: His message of protest got across without turning anybody off.
I know what you are thinking here. “The church can’t give people what they want. We would compromise or values and morals.” Hmmm, not sure I buy into that objection. To me, it is an issue of relevance.
Someone once said that “The church has historically been answering the questions that nobody is asking.”
Jesus always looked beyond the obvious. He looked into the lives of people. What were they struggling with? What were the things locking them up? What were their dreams?
Somewhere along the way we have to be able to answer the question of what people are looking for. Every year the people of exchange volunteer to work one of the biggest musical event in town. Bluesfest draws people from all over the Midwest. Several thousands come to enjoy some good blues with some great friends. Last year I stood in the middle of the crowd and again had to ask myself:
Is the church being relevant? Are we addressing the questions that these people are struggling with? Is the song we are singing familiar to people outside of Christ?
I never want to stop asking those question. As a church, we better wrestle with it. I am not asking that we compromise the message or the values. I am asking that we look at the questions that people are asking and begin to address those in relevant ways. Jesus did it, why should we do any different?
The heart of Christ beats for those who have yet to know him. Find out what they are asking and you have an inroad to the familiar in their life.
Thanks once again to Rick Newman from U.S. News & World Report for the article on what the Boss can teach CEOs. Crossing it over from Business to church leadership, we explore Rick’s #2 observation: Innovate. In Rick’s own words,
Springsteen’s knack for turning old material into something completely new seems like a magic touch compared with all the lame efforts to create hip, modern variations of old TV shows or movies. Instead of copying success, he creates it all over again.
Can somebody testify? I must admit, when my pal Glen Baldwin offered to take me to my first Springsteen concert a few years ago, I figured I would be watching a washed up old man playing the same tunes for the millionth time so he could get enough money to pay his back taxes (tip of the hat to Willie).
I was wrong. Dead wrong.
The reason people flock to a Springsteen show is that you never know what this cat will do, but you know this: he takes old tunes and makes them new. Brand new.
Alright. I am pretty fired up. In the past few weeks I have heard comments from people that get me amped. They all say it in different ways, but it goes something like this:
I am working a ton of hours each week. I have not had a day off since I don’t know when, and I can’t remember my last vacation.
Usually it is said with some pride. “Good-on-me for the hard work. I’m getting it done.” Am I supposed to respond with a pat on the back or some kind of heroic award? Hello McFly, we are killing ourselves. Some of us have jobs that own us. This is not how life was meant to be lived. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that it is a gift of God to enjoy work (Ecclesiastes 3:13), but this is out of control.