10 Benefits of Being Middle-Aged

I’m older now than I used to be. I have aches I didn’t once have. My hair is more gray. Recently my youngest son said, “Hey Pops, you are starting to look old.” He doesn’t realize how much I’m starting to feel it also. It isn’t completely bad though. As I have entered what may be considered my “middle ages”, I am realizing some benefits from being the age that I am today.

Here are 10 benefits to being middle-aged:

  • I am less concerned about impressing others. I probably wasn’t that impressive anyway, but now I don’t care as much to try.
  • I get to act more out of experience now, having often “been there and done that.”
  • Lord willing, I still have lots of time to dream big dreams and see them completed.
  • I love being on the side now where people come to me for advice. (Please don’t tell them I still have more questions than answers.)
  • I am looking forward to grandchildren someday. Really!   In the meantime, I get to enjoy other people’s children.
  • I am starting to realize the fruit of hard work in days past…and some of the aches and pains.
  • I’m much closer to getting discounts at multiple restaurants. I’m already occasionally asked if I want to get one.
  • Cheryl and I are at a good place in our marriage and we get to enjoy our two boys as friends. (And one day they will get to take care of us!)
  • Some of my clothes are starting to come back in style.
  • I am smart enough to know better…sometimes…

How close are you to “middle age”?

Of course, none of us are guaranteed that we aren’t at the end of our days, but I’m thankful for the years I have had, the experiences I’ve gained, and the time God allows me to continue to share what He has given me with others. Bring on the years!

The Part Of Delegation Most Leaders Neglect

Part of growing an organization is delegating, or getting more people involved in the process of accomplishing the overall goals and objectives of the organization. It cannot be overemphasized that if you want to grow the organization, you must learn to delegate. The part of delegation, however, that many leaders have the hardest time doing is letting go of his or her right to control the work being delegated.

Keep this in mind as you delegate responsibilities to others:

  • The work may not happen exactly when you want it to…
  • The work may not be done exactly as you would have done it…
  • The work may not look exactly as you had envisioned it looking…

If the person you delegate to understands and believes in the overall vision and is willing to carry the project through to completion, letting go of your right to control the outcome of the project may be necessary for delegation to occur.

The best leaders realize he or she can never accomplish everything personally, so he or she is willing to delegate. Ultimately though, there is no delegation without some release of ownership.

For a similar post on this topic, click HERE.

An Interview With Leader Pete Wilson of Crosspoint

A few weeks ago, I began interviewing leaders I admire.  My first was Ben Arment.  You can read that interview HERE.  Another leader I am learning from is Pete Wilson. You can follow Pete on Twitter HERE.

Pete is a neighbor and friend in the ministry. Pete has a tremendous following online, but meeting with him always proves to me he is as nice in person as is presented by his Internet persona.  The church Pete planted, Crosspoint, is twice the age of our church and nearly twice our size, so we learn much from their continued growth.  Pete’s much anticipated first book comes out soon. Click HERE to purchase in advance. The quality I admire most about Pete is that he surrounds himself with sharp people and entrusts leadership and ownership of the vision to them.  I think that shows in the work God is doing through them at Crosspoint.

Here are 10 questions with Pete Wilson:

1.    When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

I actually wanted to be a rock star.  I was even in a band called “Fragile Crate.”  We were awesome and were convinced that we were going to be the next big thing.  It was either going to be a rock star or I was going to be President of the United States.

2.    What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Selling tuxes in a formal wear shop. Taught me a lot about how to deal with people, which is about 80% of ministry.

3.    Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I would have to say Dave Gibson. He was the owner of the tux shop. I was 16 years old and whenever business was slow, he would make me read Christian leadership books. He’s probably the first one that told me that I had a leadership gift that needed to be cultivated.

4.    Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

I read Rick Warrens “Purpose Driven Church” when I was a senior in college. As I was reading that book, a light bulb went off in my head. It was the first time I realized that church could be done differently than the way I had experienced it.

5.    What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Relational, Truthful, Driven

6.    What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Collaboration. I love collaborating with creative, focused leaders. I work best in the context of a team.

7.    What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I am a people pleaser. I want to grant every request, every meeting and it sometimes gets me in trouble.  That’s definitely one thing I continue to work on.

8.    What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Say no consistently and imagine ways to repackage the same vision over and over.

9.    What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

I think people make an assumption that I’ve changed over the years when, in reality, my position has changed, not me.

10.  If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Constant contact with the Creator is essential for transformational leadership.

Thanks Pete for this insight into you and your leadership.

How else should I attempt to interview?

Informal Evaluation Process

We are not a very formal organization at Grace Community Church. As our church and staff have grown, however, we have recognized the need for more structure. I wrote about that fact HERE and HERE. I try to keep an open door policy of leadership and frequently ask for input and try to provide feedback. I realize, however, that communication is one of the areas I continually need to improve upon, especially as our church grows larger.

In December, I introduced a more formal evaluation process for the people that report to me. My intent was not to fill out an official form for a company record. I understand the need for that at times, especially in disciplinary actions, but currently our staff is functioning well. We are working hard, practicing healthy teamwork, and accomplishing much. Someday we may be forced to a more “corporate” environment, but for today, the informality seems to work.

My goals with this year’s evaluations were to encourage the team, understand where we are going in each area of ministry, offer challenges and areas for improvement where needed and get feedback on the expectations for my role in each person’s success next year. I gave each person the questions I would be asking 10 days in advance and then allotted 2 hours for each person. I closed the meetings by sharing some of the things I am personally excited about in the new year.

Here are the questions:

  • Do you like your job?/Do you enjoy what you are doing?
  • What are your major objectives for next year?
  • Review major expenses for the coming year in your area.
  • Do you have the systems in place to accomplish the objectives you have set for your area?
  • What can I do to help?   How much do you need of my time this year?
  • What is missing from our structure to help you or the church continue to grow as a healthy church?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What questions do you have of me about the church…or about my current thought process?

I then told them I would be sharing individual encouragements and challenges about their area of ministry.

This is not at all a perfect system or one that I even recommend. It’s a start for us towards a more structured evaluation process, without becoming too formal.

How does your organization do it’s evaluation process? Would you prefer a more formal or more informal process?

I Resolve Not To Resolve…But…


 

I have always struggled to say that I make New Year’s resolutions.  If you are like me, when you put a lofty expectation in place and shortly in the year you have already failed, it only leads to disappointment.  That’s not a very encouraging system to me.

On the other hand, as much as resolutions can wear us down, I believe we should always try to do something better in the new year than in previous years. With that in mind, I need to spend time reviewing, thinking, and planning before or as the new year begins. (My friend Michael Hyatt has a great post on reviewing the year HERE.)

I think it is more than just terminology to say that I believe in setting goals and objectives at the beginning of every New Year. Resolutions are too binding for me, but goals and objectives tend to focus my attention, keep me from following tangents, and hopefully stretch me.

My goals for the New Year are:

Communication – I want to improve it with my staff, family and friends.

Leadership development – As a four year old church, we have a young, new staff. I see a large part of my job as helping them achieve their goals and objectives. In addition, I want to continue to help young leaders in our church and outside develop and grow.

Personal disciplines – The more disciplined I am, the more I can achieve. I am dreaming about two marathons this year. Not sure if that will happen yet, but the stretch will be good for me. When I am disciplined personally I find I am a better servant for God’s glory.

Now my objectives are to create plans and systems to meet these goals. I have been working on this for weeks and I am in the process now of implementing.

Do you make resolutions? If not, what is your method to try to improve each year?

Let me encourage you to spend a couple hours over the next few days dreaming some new goals and objectives for the coming year that can help make you more productive, more successful, and ultimately more satisfied with the progress of your life.

Having a System Makes Life Better…

 

 

I once hated to fly Southwest Air

 

I called it the “cattle call”…

 

I loved the energy of the company…the way they treat employees…their ability to remain profitable in a challenging market…

 

…but I hated flying them.  I always seemed to end up stuck in the middle seat behind two really big guys…

I would choose another airline whenever I could…

 

But then I learned their system….

 

Once I learned the system, and developed my own strategy for traveling within the Southwest system, I was able to check-in early online, get a good number in which to board the plane, and find a good seat….

 

Having a system helped me love Southwest…

 

Now I actually choose Southwest over other airlines anytime I can…

That story illustrates an important principle in life and leadership…

 

Sometimes that which you dread doing or hate the most, just needs a plan…a better system…

 

Develop or learn the system and it will make life easier and you’ll better enjoy a more successful ride…

 

What in your life needs a better system for the new year?

Balancing Work Ethic Encouragement

In my years of leading and managing, I have observed all types of work ethics.  As a student of leadership, I have read books and attended conferences on organizational development and workplace issues.  One frequent message I have heard in the last few years is the encouragement to work less and enjoy life more. I know the reason. There is an epidemic of over-achievers in our society neglecting family and failing to enjoy life because they are consumed with things of lesser importance.

While I agree with this advice for those that need it, I have to be honest about something.  Some people don’t need this advice.  Some people need the encouragement to work harder to achieve the goals and objectives they have for their life, but also to honor the commitments he or she has made to their employer.  I cannot tell you how many marriages I have counseled where one of the main problems was a lazy spouse, not to mention the Biblical truth that laziness is a sin.

The bottom line for me is that your personal work ethic should determine the style or degree of discipline you need in regards to how much you work.

There are two extremes of employees that I have observed.

The extremely low-productivity work ethic:

This type employee would often prefer not to be working at all.  They max out their sick days.  They leave work as soon as the clock ticks end of workday.  They stretch lunch breaks. People wired this way don’t need to hear a message on taking more time off from work. They have that “skill” fully developed.  That type “encouragement” may cause them to work even less than they are currently working.  It’s not that they are bad people they just have the opposite of a workaholic drive in them.  For them they may need to discipline themselves to work harder.

The extremely high-productivity work ethic:

This type employee loves to work.   They seldom take a sick day. They have to force themselves to take days off and when they do they are constantly checking their messages or calling back to the office.  They work late and almost have to be pushed out the door.  They don’t need a message on how employees need to work harder.  This type “encouragement” fuels their resentment towards other employees who don’t share their work ethic and causes them to justify his or her over indulgence with work. For them they need to discipline themselves to work less. (I fit in this category, by the way.)

In between these two extremes are various degrees leaning towards one extreme or the other.  Learning to strike the healthy balance that achieves goals and objectives and honors an employers time, while protecting family time and taking time to rest, should be the goal.

Which are you?  Be honest with yourself as we head into another year and discipline yourself accordingly.

Change is Good: 5 Reasons I Rearranged My Office


 

I rearranged my office this weekend.  It wasn’t a whim.  Those that know me know I’m not wired very much for spur of the moment decisions.  This office makeover was definitely purposeful.

Here are a few of the reasons for changing my office:

  1. I am expecting 2010 to be a huge year at Grace Community Church.  It may require sacrifice of me and others.  The office change is a visual picture of my willingness to embrace the changes to come.
  2. One of my chief initiatives for the new year is to improve my communication with the staff.  The office change puts my desk against the wall, rather than in the middle of the room.  I have removed a barrier between me and the person I am meeting with at the time.  I will now have to turn my back to my computer and will be better at giving my full attention to others.
  3. I get bored easily when things remain the same.  I needed a change to pump my enthusiasm.
  4. I know in advance I will be working harder this year.  I wanted more pictures of my family in my office, so I don’t loose focus of what is most important in life.
  5. I plan to hit the ground running in January, and there will be little time to rearrange furniture.

This may seem like a simple change to you, but to me it’s a significant example of the days ahead.

What do you need to change in order to achieve all the plans God has for you in 2010? This week is a great week to dream about changes you may need to make in the coming year.

(I spoke about the subject of change this Sunday, you can listen HERE.)

An Important Life and Leadership Principle

Here is a life and leadership principle I have learned the hard way:

Don’t try to handle a problem or make important decisions when you are angry or highly emotional.

You will say things you don’t really mean to say, hurt feelings you don’t intend to hurt, and come to conclusions you will later wish you hadn’t reached. This is especially true of handling corrective issues or addressing something in which you do not agree.

Whether it is in the workplace, family or in friendships, if you can’t think rationally, wait until your emotions calm before you act.

Have you been guilty of acting in anger?  How did that turn out for you?

5 Principles I Learned From Disappointment

We had the deal of all deals presented to our church a few months ago. Because of the people involved I can’t share details, but it was one of those “too good to be true” scenarios. It came from nowhere and totally rocked my world for a few weeks. I personally had 80 to 100 hours invested. It was going to be huge for our church and community.

I love a dream and I’m not afraid to take a risk, but I had sought tons of wisdom, the staff was excited, and the potential for ministry would have been incredible. It seemed like a wise direction for the church and was days from becoming reality. The only thing left to do was sign the papers.

Almost as soon as the deal arrived, through no fault of our own, the deal fell through.

Thankfully, from my business and life experience, I have learned to deal with disappointment, but at first, this seemed like a huge loss.  Over the next few days I began to process what had happened and the energy I had “wasted”.

Here are 5 things I learned from the experience:

  • The process taught me important leadership and negotiation skills.
  • The brainstorming and prayer process as a church staff brought us closer together.
  • We learned more about who we are as a church and what we value most.
  • Those involved in the process outside our church gained new knowledge and respect for our church.
  • The momentum that started within our staff about the possibilities will have lasting value as we transfer it to other avenues.

Ultimately, what I learned is that it wasn’t wasted energy after all. There were valuable lessons gained from what appeared to be a negative experience.  Those lessons will make me a better leader and pastor.

I wonder if perhaps other disappointments in life have similar principles to be learned…

What do you think?

For more thoughts on leadership, click HERE.