Archives for : February2013

Wasting Time

Wasting Time

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Do you sometimes feel like there are not enough hours in the day?  How do you decide what things must be done and what things should be done?  Twice in the New Testament (Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5) we are told to redeem the time.  The idea is to rescue or recover our time from waste; to improve it for great and important purposes.  Time is a very precious commodity that once gone you can never bring back.  You can tell a lot about a person’s values by looking at their calendar and how they spend their time.

In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro challenges to focus on our 5% that no one else can do for us.  He says that 85% of what we do anyone can do and that another 10% of what we do we could train someone to do those things for us.  How do you stay focused on the things only you can accomplish?  What is the best investment of the time God has given you?  We cannot afford to waste time because it will drain us physically, mentally, and spiritually.  “It is easier to train a doer than to activate a thinker.” –Andy Stanley 

Ron Edmonson has some great thoughts on how to not waste time.  He says, “I firmly believe if we get rid of common energy wasters we can dramatically improve our performance as leaders. With that in mind, I’ve spent time in my personal development finding ways to eliminate time and energy wasters.”  Here are 7 common wastes of energy in leadership that he shared in a recent blog.

Focusing attention on the naysayers – I have found that worrying over what the critics are saying, especially the ones I will never make happy, delays progress and takes time from and frustrates the positive people who believe in the vision and are ready to move forward.

Refusing to delegate – When I make every decision, or become too controlling as a leader, I rob myself and the team of valuable energy and talent and I feel overwhelmed more quickly.

Second guessing decisions – I find it is better to work to make better decisions moving forward rather than live in a pity party of bad ones already made.

Trying to have all the ideas – Many leaders feel they have to be the originator of all the creative energy of a team. They waste time brainstorming alone rather than expanding the creative process. Consequently, the best ideas often never surface. Original thoughts, better than ours, are usually in the room or the organization if we will welcome them to the table and it preserves my time for more efficient use.

Living with broken structure – Let’s face reality. Over time, rules take on a life of their own. What was once created to improve structure actually begins to slow progress and waste valuable time. Change the rules…or even drop them… and you often free up valuable space for people to breathe and enjoy their work.

Disorganization – Need I expand? Many leaders feel overwhelmed because they don’t have good organizational skills. Learning how to better handle routine tasks such as processing emails, calendaring, and scheduling work flow each week will drastically improve time efficiency.

Completing tasks not designed for me – This could be any number of things. Even reading a book. For example, perhaps a silly example, but I have discovered that sometimes I read too much. That sounds strange…I know…but really it’s because I read things I didn’t need to read. I start a book and within the first chapter I know it’s not helpful or even enjoyable…my sense of completion wants to finish. But, better is to put it aside and pick up another book. The novel length email…I try to determine first if I’m the one who should respond. Many times I’m not. It could be attending a meeting…or supervising a project. Whatever it is that I am not the best person for the job or it is just a time waster, the sooner I stop it or hand off the task, the more energy I preserve.

What Happens When?

Be a Blessing

I am writing this while flying back from Philadelphia after having the privilege of teaching The Multiplication Workshop at First Baptist Church in Blackwood, New Jersey.  David McMurray has been the pastor since 1975 following his father, Silas McMurray, who planted the church in 1968.  First Baptist is a very diverse congregation having almost a 50/50 ratio of Caucasian/African American. 

Also attending was the Living Word Fellowship, an African American church in Glendora, NJ. It is wonderful seeing two churches working so closely together.  Their pastor, Dr. King, preached an awesome message on Sunday morning.  When I opened the Sunday bulletin I was thrilled to see an article Bro. David had inserted.  It was exactly why we were there and what we were challenging the church to implement into their lives.

“Most people have heard something about Jesus and, truth be told, whatever they’ve heard or seen has give them ammunition to form an unpleasant understanding of Him. Their perception or limited understanding of Christ is distorted or blemished. We all agree that Christianity—and subsequently, Jesus—has an image problem.  So how will outreach and evangelism impact and influence this cultural context over the next ten years?  Numerous answers and possibilities exist, but here, I offer a truly essential one: real human relationships.

Why do they matter?  Relationships matter because they help debunk and break down fears, stereotypes, caricatures, myths, pain, and anger.  The answers that will speak to and deeply engage the dis-churched, overchurched, and never-gonna-step-into church kind of people aren’t buildings, more conferences, more theology or even more doctrine.  While these all have important value and purpose, something is so simple and profound about the power of human relationships. 

The story of God, leading up to the time of Jesus, became very confusing and inaccessible to everyday people.  The message was blemished by sin, deceit, legalism, abusive power, and false teaching.  What changed?  The story of God became truly accessible through the power and mystery of the incarnation.  One of the most profound and irrational scriptures is recorded in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message).

What’s next?  The future of outreach and evangelism will take many shapes, forms, and turns. This is inevitable because change is constantly taking place and at a pace more rapid than at any point in history.  As our churches continue to weave through this inevitable path of change, we need to remember what we can be accomplished through the power of real relationships.

  • What happens when our churches move out from their buildings to engage the community?
  • What happens when we embrace our neighbors as part of our great calling?
  • What happens when we share time with our neighbors and learn their stories?
  • What happens when we drop our routines and deadlines and focus on relationships for the sake of the mission?
  • What happens when we start eating with sinners, once again, like Jesus?

What happens?  That’s what we need to find out again in a fresh way.  Remember, God calls us not to be a light to the light, but a light to the world.  Let’s enjoy our churches and Christian communities, but let’s not forget to move into the neighborhoods and, in doing so, point people to Jesus by the way we live our imperfect lives by God’s grace.”

What happens indeed?  We cannot afford to wait any longer; every believer must begin now to be a missionary in their zip code.  God has placed people in your circle of influence so that you might point them to Jesus.  A great way to build real relationships is to:  First, ask them questions about their lives and listen to their story.  When you are willing to listen to someone you are telling them that you value them.  Second, tell them your story.  If you are born again you have a testimony you can share about what God has done in your life.  There is no stronger witness than a transformed life that loves people like Jesus loves them.  Third, when the opportunity opens, and it will, share His story.  It has been said, “Share the gospel and use words if necessary.”  At some point and at some time it will become necessary!


Leading Change Part 2

Leading Change

John Kotter has written a lot about change (Leading Change & Our Iceberg is Melting) and has made it his business to study the successes and failures in change.  He writes, “The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces satisfactory results” and “making critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains.”

First, he suggests that you must Establish a Sense of Urgency –Talk of change typically begins with someone noticing vulnerability or weaknesses that need to be addressed.  (See Blog on Jan 23. 2013).  The following is a formula for change: A + B + C > D.  A = Dissatisfaction with the status quo.  B = Knowledge of a better alternative.  C = Knowledge of first steps.  D = The cost of making the change.  

Second, Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition – Change efforts often start with just one or two people, and should grow continually to include more and more who believe the changes are necessary.  What if a group of burdened believers in every church covenanted together to pray daily for their pastor, their church, and other churches for God to move in a mighty way?  The sense of urgency already mentioned must begin with someone who cares enough to begin to do something to change the status quo.  What better place to begin than on our knees?   Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  There is no coalition more powerful or wiser than our Lord!

Third, Create a Vision – Successful transformation rests on “a picture of the future that is relatively easy to communicate…. A vision helps clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move.” The vision functions in many different ways: it helps spark motivation, it helps keep all the projects and changes aligned, it provides a filter to evaluate how the organization is doing, and it provides a rationale for the changes the organization will have to weather. “A useful rule of thumb: if you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are not yet done with this phase of the transformation process.”  It is necessary for churches to determine their present reality, their preferred future, and then develop a plan on how to get there.

Fourth, Communicate that Vision – Kotter suggests the leadership should estimate how much communication of the vision is needed, and then multiply that effort by a factor of ten. Do not limit it to one congregational meeting, a sermon by the minister, or a couple of mail outs to members. Leaders must be seen “walking the talk” – another form of communication — if people are going to perceive the effort as important. “Deeds” along with “words” are powerful communicators of the new ways. The bottom line is that a transformation effort will fail unless most of the members understand, appreciate, commit, and try to make the effort happen. The guiding principle is simple: use every existing communication channel and opportunity.

Please remember to wait on the Lord when working through the process of change.  Waiting is not bad and all you have to do is read verses like Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Also, my personal favorite in Psalms 27:14, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”  When God has shown you what to do move forward but if He has not spoken clearly wait until He does.  In a recent message by my Todd West, my pastor, said, “Sometimes it takes more faith and courage to wait on God than it does to move forward!”