4148 – A Red Letter Weekend

I don’t put a lot of personal stuff on this site, but I have to tell you about last weekend.  To sum it up . . .  PERFECTION!

The weekend started with me going fly fishing at a local pond with my youngest son.  He caught several bluegill, and I caught a Largemouth Bass.  Pretty good for something we decided to do at the last minute, and we only fished for about an hour.

Drew fishing in a nice sunset.

Me, with a Largemouth Bass

Early the next morning, I was up and on my way to Denton, Texas, for the 28th annual Turkey Roll.  It’s a bicycle rally with about 1,000 riders.  I’ve been riding a lot lately, and my personal best in one day has been 24.5 miles, which I have done three times.  This ride had course options for 25, 37, 47, and 63 miles.  I chose the 37 mile route and rode it with two friends.  This was the hardest thing I have ever done.  There were some grueling hills, and 20-25 mph headwinds for probably 12 miles of the ride.  There were a few times I wasn’t sure if I could finish.  I did finish, though, and never got off my bike to walk it.  By the way, it took me almost 4 hours to do this.  For those of you who are experienced cyclist, that wouldn’t be anything to brag about.  For me, though, it was all about finishing.

My bike and camelback, with my registration number – 4148

Dexter, Donnie and me after the ride.

Icing On The Cake . . .

My oldest son started at Texas A&M this fall, and is a member of the Corps of Cadets.  This program stresses discipline, training, and tradition.  It’s a hard program from the start, but for the last three weeks Zac has been earning his “Corps Brass”.  This is a period of time when everything is harder.  It’s a very intense time of physical training, learning of school traditions (and reciting of “campusologies”).  The freshmen in each unit have to rely on each other make it through the most intense time of their lives.  After completing my ride Saturday morning I got an email from Zac:

Subject:  Corps Brass

Message Body:  Earned it this morning.

The truth is, he’s been earning it all his life.  Everything he has become has had a part in this accomplishment for him.  Way to go, Zac!

Zac’s Corps Brass. Hard earned

You Should Get a Guide

I recently spent some time in Colorado, fly fishing with my two sons.  It’s a trip we’d been planning for a year and had really been looking forward to it. We fished for three days, with varying results each day.

Day 1:  We fished by ourselves and caught one fish between us.

Day 2:  We fished by ourselves and caught nothing

Day 3:  We fished with a guide and caught a dozen fish between us.

Drew Fishing with our Guide, Doug

A dozen fish between 3 fishermen may not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot better than a big goose egg!

Here’s my point:

There was nothing wrong with fishing by ourselves, but our success sky-rocketed when we had the advice of an experienced guide.

In your ministry, do you have someone who has gone before you?  Call it mentoring, friendly advice, whatever. Unless you know it all (and who does?), you need the help and advice of someone more experienced, or maybe more mature, to show you the way.

A Couple of Examples

*A few years ago, I needed to bone up on podcasting.  When Apple came out with the podcasts feature in Itunes, I dismissed it because it sounded like “Party Shuffle” or something like that.  So I was about  year behind the curve.  After asking around, I found an expert at another church in Dallas, and I hired him to come spend about three hours with me.  He ended up not only giving me the basics on podcasting, but also gave me a primer on blogs as well.  The time I spent with him gave me a head-start over what I could just figure out on my own.

* Early in my career I produced a christian radio program called Hope For The Heart.  But I didn’t start out producing.  I started as an editor.  My boss, who was much more than just a boss, was always mentoring me.  Mentoring in how I saw life, mentoring in audio production skills, management skills, etc.  Andy would explain things to me until I understood them.  He wanted to make sure I GOT things, so I could apply them to similar scenarios down the road.  He really worked himself out of a job, and when he moved on took his place as producer for the program.

* My friends Sammy and Julie:  They are such examples of how to treat others with dignity and grace.  I have watched them both pour their lives into other people, and I’m thankful for friends like these who, by their lives, provide an example for me to follow.

I promise you, there are people out there who are more skilled and more experienced than you and me.  And there are those who are just waiting to share their experience with us.

Vision and Resources

For months I have heard Paul Rasmussen say, Don’t let resources dictate vision”.  As a resources manager, I live in a very concrete world of what we have and what we don’t have – what’s real and what’s imaginary.  I know what gear we have available, and what money we have in our budget. So I have to live with the tension of what we have and what everyone would like to do.  Recently in a staff meeting, Paul fleshed out what he means, and I think it’s worth a few bullet points here.

  • Resources is not the same thing as money.  Resources include money, but also include  you (what you personally bring to the table in terms of influence, skill and other traits), systems, and human resources (volunteers).
  • Most people are pretty good with the You. A talented video producer might tend to simply take all the assigned videos and crank them out by himself.  That might be because he’s a perfectionist or control freak.  But it may also be that the systems aren’t in place to accommodate volunteer editors.  Or maybe there isn’t a system in place to allow the video producer enough time to develop people in that role.
  • Many people who may be in good shape with the You or the money, but meet with opposition when trying to expand or change systems.  In church work we often tend to operate without much personal margin, so when we are met with the slightest opposition, we retreat back to what we know.  It takes continual pushing against the status quo to affect change.

Andy Stanley has said “Your people are exactly where they have been led to be”.  And I’ve heard it another way – “Your systems are perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting”.  Historically, our church has not had a really strong emphasis on volunteering.  In some areas, yes, but certainly not in the areas of music and worship service production.  We are committed to changing that.  At the very least, it will require three things.  First, our people have to be led to a different place.  Led by our pastor, led by me, led by our tech staff.  Secondly, it will require a culture change on our part.  We have to change the way we think about our work – who owns it, who we’re doing it for.  We’ll have to be prepared for volunteers be better at our jobs than we are (that can be intimidating).  Paul told us “The reason for increasing our volunteer force is not to get free labor, but to increase buy-in of our mission”.  Lastly, we’ll have to change our definition of success.  Success will have to mean much more than successful operation of equipment, and “professional” performance.  We’re not giving up on that, but success has to be expanded to how well we engage the body and allow our people to increasingly  take leadership in our services.

I’m convinced that doing this will help our people grow.  And it will help us grow, too.

An Open Letter to Event Planners and Wedding Consultants

My comments here are simple:  Live rock music is loud. After I-don’t-know-how-many-times of people coming to me and asking me to turn down the band so people can talk, I have a few bullet points I would like to share.

  • When you place a table two feet in front of a loudspeaker, the people at that table will most likely not be able to converse easily.
  • “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Superstition” are great songs, but not dinner music.
  • If you dictate that the audio mixer MUST be located behind the band – well . . .
  • Lastly, so I’m not an all problem and no solution guy, if what you want is dinner music, here’s a great resource.

Got any to add to this?

How Lively Are Your Meetings?

I was in a meeting today and we were planning our Christmas Eve services.  Maybe it was because the meting didn’t start until 3:30 PM.  Maybe we were all meeting’d out.  Maybe we all had low blood sugar.  But at one point, with six of us in the room, the motion sensor turned the lights out on us.  That’s just pretty sad.

A Few Things I am Thankful for

  • For my wife, Julie.  This March will be 20 years with this woman who has shown me the meaning of selflessness.
  • For the saving work of Jesus.
  • For my kids.  Good kids.
  • For my friends Sammy and Julie, for their influence in my life, and their constant example to me and Julie.
  • For God’s constant care and provision for my family.
  • For my mother-in law, Beth, who is an example of grace and courage in extreme difficulty.
  • For God again, proving to me that the most difficult circumstances are not out of His reach, or too hard for Him to handle.
  • For a great group of local tech directors, and some that are not so local.  Guys who really love God, love what they’re doing, and who are willing to come together in a spirit of cooperation to build the Kingdom.
  • For technology and the arts.
  • For a great group of volunteers who serve without a trace of ego
  • For repentance, for change, and for the love of so many in my life, and in the life of my family