Team Idleness

I have been thinking a lot about teams lately, which led my thoughts to some of the negative parts of team leadership. I will share some of those thoughts here this week.  My goal as a leader of a team is to make sure we avoid many of the traps teams experience without good leadership.

One term that popped in my head that I will play off of is the term “team idleness”.  I am using that term to represent when a team is failing to move forward towards meeting its desired goals and objectives. Team idleness does not necessarily mean the wrong people are on the team or that it has the wrong goals and objectives or that the goals and objectives are unrealistic.  Every team, regardless of their health, can go through times of team idleness.  The term simply means that at any given time there is no forward progress for the team.  Thankfully my team is not currently experiencing this, at least as a whole, so it is a good time for me to think through this issue.  I have witnessed this many times in organizations with which I have been associated and I  can assure you that most teams will deal with team idleness at various times through the life of the team.

Think with me this week about team functions.  Are you part of a team?  Are you currently facing team idleness?  Do you know what caused you to stagnate?  Do you have a solution to get your team started again? Have you been through team idleness before and have some answers for the rest of us?

10 Reasons Why I Love Military Families In Our Church

I am honored to live in a military town. All my life I have known soldiers. Some of my best friends and family have been military-related. Our church has a large military population. I have heard people talk about the burden of military families on a church, because every three years they have to be replaced. The family in this picture was in our community group, but left our church for a reassignment. Cheryl and I could not love a family anymore than we love them and we’ve loved staying in touch with them.

I have always felt our church was stronger because of our military families, for as long as they might stay.  Therefore, as we celebrate military families, here are 10 Reasons why I love the military families in our church:

  • They are some of the most dedicated people I know
  • They bring experiences with them from around the world
  • They have great work ethics
  • They are expectant of great things from God
  • They are appreciative of any ministry
  • They make wonderful volunteers
  • They build friendships for life
  • They are sacrificial givers
  • They raise awesome families
  • They are brave soldiers, protecting my right to do what I do

God bless our military and God bless America!

Tribute to Small Group Leaders

home_mainThe best life, community and spiritual growth happens at Grace Community Church within the context of our small group ministry.  We have some amazing leaders of our small groups.  I’m always encouraged by their willingness to sacrifice part of them to invest in other people.  I know each of them would say, however, that they receive far more in return than they give up.   Serving others is like that.

Group life helps relationships become more authentic.  It connects people who would otherwise never meet.  It builds friendships for life.  In the three groups we have led since the church started we have found people we now consider family. I cannot imagine our life without them now.  In all my years working in ministry, as a layperson and as a pastor, there is no place where the Acts 2 model of church is displayed any better than within the small group settings that meet in people’s homes.

Group leaders thank you for investing in, leading, loving, encouraging, shaping people to become growing disciples of Jesus Christ.  You are true Kingdom-builders!  Your time and energy helps to make us a better church. Grace Community Church would not be the church we are without you!

Reflections From a Father of a High School Graduate

nateIf you have read my blog for long then you know that I have two great boys of whom I am extremely proud.  They are so incredibly different, but both special in their own way.

Today is graduation for our youngest son Nate.  His name was once Nathaniel, but I am trying to adjust and honor his new identity.  Nate is the entertainer child in our home. He’s fiercely independent, yet at the same time cares very much what I think and for my opinion.  Nate has been planning his future since he was about 3 years old, so we fully expect great things from him. You can read his blog at www.nateedmondson.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nateedmondson

Here are the quick thoughts and memories going through my mind about Nate today:

When Nate was a newborn I would come home from work and let him sleep on my chest every night.  Those days passed so fast.

When Nate was 8 months old he gave up drinking from a bottle. He wanted a cup.  His mom stressed, the doctor said he would be fine, but this was one of our first clues that he would chart his own course in life.

One time after a large storm I was cleaning up our front yard.  Nate was about 2 years old and loved his shiny red boots.  I saw him pouncing through the water in a ditch.  When I scolded him he said, “Daddy, I’m Peter and I’m walking on the water.”  I decided to let him pounce.

Nate was never a child that liked to snuggle or be held much.  Sad to admit but I used to enjoy times he was sick so he would let me hold him.

Nate played Superman with his red boots and a red robe for a couple years.  Every night I would hold the belt to the robe and let him run around me with his “super powers” until he would pass out from exhaustion.

At 3 years old Nate became the neighborhood backyard preacher standing on a tree stump behind our house.

Nate was a great young athlete.  We threw the baseball and football thousands of times.  It is when we had our best conversations.

Putting Nate to bed at night was always a long experience.  My goal and his expectation was that I would make him laugh and we laughed a lot.

Nate has always taken the longest showers of anyone in the house.  My most used line, “Hurry up Nathaniel!”

Our house has been filled with the sound of music the last few years listening to Nate bang keys on a keyboard or pick a guitar searching for the perfect note.  He has become an incredibly well-rounded self-taught musician.

Nate is a natural leader.  He needs projects and responsibility. When he has a task he performs beyond expectations.  Nate has been instrumental in so many different areas within our church plant.

Nate has had an incredible experience in high school and from everything we have been told did an exceptional job as student body president.

Nate is more than a son. He’s a great friend.  He has taught me so much about life just as his brother Jeremy has.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the blessing of being his dad.

Small Steps to Spiritual Growth

Yesterday I posted a simple way to implement change in an organization when the changes needed seem overwhelming.  You can read that post HERE.

Today I want to put a contextual spin on the issue for the area of spiritual growth.  I know lots of believers, especially early in their Christian walk, who think they should instantly have spiritual maturity shortly after being saved.  Spiritual growth is a process that takes years of discipleship.

If you want to mature in your faith, start with one spiritual discipline.  Master that discipline (or get better at it at least) and then move to another discipline.  For example, try to form a habit of regular church attendance. Then start reading your Bible everyday.  When that becomes a regular part of your day, begin to form a prayer list.  After a period of time you can start journaling.  Keep adding positive changes to your spiritual life, but only add one at a time.  See if that helps you grow without facing spiritual burnout.

What suggestions do you have towards spiritual growth?

Pastor Survey: Please Help

Pastors, I’m curious about your preparation methods to speak on Sunday.
Will you help me with this quick survey?

  1. Do you manuscript, outline, memorize or wing it with your messages?
  2. Do you rehearse all, part, or none of your message?
  3. What day of the week are you usually prepared?
  4. How many hours does it take you to complete a message?
  5. How many Sunday’s do you preach a year?
  6. What is one tip you have learned that could help other pastors?

Thanks so much for answering. I would love for you to leave a comment for others to read, but if you feel more comfortable you can email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com. In a later post I will summarize comments and emailed comments.  I will not share names of emailed surveys.

Here are my answers:

  1. Do you manuscript, outline, memorize or wing it with your messages?   (Manuscript)
  2. Do you rehearse all, part, or none of your message?  (All)
  3. What day of the week are you usually prepared?  (Thursday hopefully with the manuscript, rehearse and trim on Friday.)
  4. How many hours does it take you to complete a message?  (25 to 30)
  5. How many Sunday’s do you preach a year?  (25)
  6. What is one tip you have learned that could help other pastors?   (Start with Bible first and know what God is saying to me before trying to tell others what He might be saying to them.)

How To Honor Your Pastor’s Wife

One of the toughest jobs in the church is that of being a pastor’s wife.  No doubt I have one of the best in Cheryl.  (I would say the best, but I have a co-pastor and he has an excellent one also!)  Cheryl has a full-time professional job, is an excellent mom and wife, but the demands on her as my wife are often overwhelming. Still she handles it with grace and a smile.

I want to help you know how to honor and protect your pastor’s wife.  Here I am not talking on behalf of Cheryl. She would never ask for this and frankly we are in the best church environment I have ever experienced as far as the way our staff and spouses are treated.  I know, however, because of my work with pastors outside of Grace that many pastor’s wives are facing burnout, a sense of loneliness, and often struggle even to come to church.

If you want to treat your pastor’s wife well:  (These may work equally well for the husband of a pastor or minister, but I can only speak from my perspective.)

  • Do not put too many expectations on the pastor’s wife.  She cannot be everywhere, at everything and know everyone’s name and family situation and still carry out her role in the home.
  • Do not expect her to take your side on an issue opposing her husband.  She will protect him as you would your spouse.
  • Protect the pastor’s wife from gossip.  She does not need to know the “prayer concerns” that are really just a way of spreading rumors.
  • Let her have a husband and enjoy her family time.  The pastor is pulled in many directions.  If you can limit your demands on his schedule to his normal working hours it will help the pastor’s wife have a family life also.
  • Include her without placing demands or expectations on her.  The pastor’s wife is often one of the loneliest women in the church.  She rarely knows whom to trust and often is excluded from times that are just for fun.
  • Never repeat what she says.  If the pastor’s wife happens to share information with you about the church or her personal life, keep it to yourself.  There will be temptation to share her words as “juicy news”, but you will honor her by remaining silent.
  • If your church really wants to honor the pastor’s wife, find ways to give her time away with her husband and/or family.  That is probably what she needs the most.
  • Pray for your pastor’s wife and family daily.

Feel free to give a shout-out to your pastor’s wife here on this post and share ways you can honor your pastor’s wife.  If you are a pastor or pastor’s wife, I would love to hear your thoughts.

What To Do When The Changes Needed Are Overwhelming

If you are like me you want to see consistent improvement in your organization.  Sometimes I can be overly critical because I have such high hopes and expectations for us as a church.  At times I can become a bit overwhelmed with all the things I think need to be tweaked, completely overhauled or killed altogether.

When those times occur, if a leader is not careful, the burden of trying to change too much at once can actually have the reverse impact. Nothing gets changed, everything stays the same, and the organization suffers.  The leader cannot get everything accomplished so nothing gets accomplished.

Here is an easy solution to the sense of overwhelming need for improvement  in an organization:

Concentrate on one needed change, work to get that change implemented, then move to another change.

Sounds simple, but it will dramatically improve your success rate…and your organization.

What is the ONE change for improvement you need to get started on today?

Can Non-Profit Work Encourage a Poor Work Ethic?

(This blog post comes with an opening disclaimer.  This is one of those “if the shoe fits” kind of posts, but it promises to make a few people mad. This is my personal blog and I never want my fear of offending people to dictate my willingness to share truth.)

Recently I delivered a message to our church about the type of work ethic Christians should have.  You can watch that message HERE or listen to it HERE.  There were thoughts in preparing to speak that I could not fit into my time allotted for the message, but I felt were important enough to share.  This is one of those thoughts.

I have had a very diverse work background in my work life.  I have worked in the secular world longer than the ministry world, but I have been an employer and an employee.  I have been a self-employed small business owner and worked for a large corporation.  I have worked with non-profits and for profits and I have served in government office.

Here is one conclusion I have reached:

Non-profit environments, whether that is government, church or para-church ministry, more easily allow people to have a poor work ethic.

There I said it.  Cast stones, as you will.

Granted some of the hardest working people I have ever met are in those fields.  I know pastors who work far too many hours and far too much is expected of them.  I know ministers who experience burnout and allow their families to suffer because of it.  I know government workers who give far more value to their organization than they earn in salary. Personally I have never worked more hours than since I entered full-time vocational ministry.

I also, however, and the point of this post, know many people who work in the non-profit arena who take advantage of the flexible schedules and the more guaranteed jobs, far more it seems as a percentage than I knew in the secular working environment. While I have always been an equal advocate for protecting one’s family and placing them first over one’s work, and while I practiced this with my family while I was in secular work, I also believe that flexible schedules should never be an excuse for laziness.

I have wondered why this is the case, at least from my observations, and the conclusions I can come to are:

  • The lack of profit-making incentive leads to a less strict working environment.
  • The fear of losing a job is less an issue in non-profits. Churches and ministries rarely fire or layoff people and it is harder to do so in most government settings than in the for profit world.
  • There is less sense of failure in non-profit work.  Many of the goals and objectives of non-profits are less measurable than a strictly profit-based measure of success, so it is easy to claim success even with less effort applied to the work.

These are just thoughts.  I am especially curious to hear from those who have worked in both for profit and non-profit work environments, but I would love to have anyone’s feedback.  What do you think?  Have I made you mad?  Have you seen this trend?  Am I way off base?  Does the shoe fit?  Could anyone question your work ethic?

Shai Agassi: Pursuing a Dream

shai_agassiShai Agassi is a 40 year old wildly successful founder of Better Place, a company deep into the green energy production boom.  He left a very lucrative career with software giant SAP just before they were to name him CEO to take a giant leap towards his dream.  Harvard Business Review recently interviewed him.  Here is an excerpt from that interview.

HBR: How did you go from global corporate executive to energy entrepreneur?

Agassi: I had a sliding-doors moment in 2006—a moment when if you turned one way, your life and career would go in one direction, and if you turned another way, you would go off on a completely different track. I was in Paris, and I was pondering whether to continue on and become co-CEO at SAP. It was a job I had been groomed for, and I was ready to lead. But I was also fascinated by the idea of powering vehicles with wind- and solar-charged batteries. At that point, Better Place didn’t even have a business plan—it was just an idea. And the moment could have passed me by quite easily.

I remember walking down the Champs-Élysées, so that I could think. I paced it one way, imagining myself at 50 years old having decided to stay at SAP. I imagined not only that SAP had succeeded under my leadership but that we had beaten Microsoft—we were number one. Then I walked the other way, picturing myself at 50 but having left SAP and pursued my dream. I pictured the worst-case scenario—that Better Place had been a failure. At five o’clock in the morning, after walking all night, I said to myself: “This is the sliding-doors moment, and there’s no question which path I should take. I’d rather fail at Better Place than succeed at SAP because no other job could compare to trying to save the world.”

I love it!  That was so inspiring for me to read.  Read the rest of the interview HERE.

Do you have a dream?  Perhaps it is time to “GO FO IT”!  (Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all…Someone else said that…not me!)