What landed Jesus on the cross was the preposterous idea that common, ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be godly! What drove Jesus’ enemies crazy were his criticisms of the “perfect” religious people and his acceptance of the imperfect nonreligious people. The shocking implication of Jesus’ ministry is that anyone can be spiritual. Scandalous? Maybe.

Messy Spirituality, Michael Yaconelli (Zondervan, 2009), Location 205

The Beauty of Approachability

When I was 16 years go I got my first job busing tables at a Goldie’s Restaurant in my hometown.  This job involved removing half-eaten food from tables, waiters that wouldn’t share their tips, cleaning the bathrooms, and just about every other conceivable disgusting thing in the restaurant business.  But I’ve always remembered one thing from my 4 nights of  employment.  (Are you surprised?  Of course I quit after 4 days!)

I guess I wasn’t exactly hiding my dissatisfaction with my chores, and my boss pulled me into his office to tell me to smile more.  I laughed at his request and then he got in my face and told me that to work for his restaurant I had to look approachable, and if I was walking around looking upset; that nobody would ever ask for my help…and then there was the potential that an unhappy customer might leave the restaurant.  That right there is some truth!

So fast forward almost 20 years and that advice still stands!  Every Sunday morning as I walk in and through the areas of my church, I’m interacting with a customer of sorts.  Not the kind of customer that is buying something, but the kind that has a need that needs to be filled.  I don’t know what those needs are, but I need to work to be as approachable as possible.  Sometimes it’s being approachable to tell someone where they can find a particular place on our campus.  Other times it’s being able to reward the bravery of a child that wants you to pray with them.

Here are the ways I work to always make people feel welcome.

  • Smile.  This is the simplest one.  Simply smile.  A simple smile always disarms even the most frustrated person.  And here’s a little secret about the power of a smile…it can cover whatever turmoil you may be going through in the moment.  Have you ever heard this saying, “Fake it, ’til you make it!”?  Just because you don’t feel like smiling, isn’t a good enough reason to frown!
  • Look Around. I work every weekend to not always look at myself, and what I’m going through during a busy weekend.  Instead, I take the time to look at what is around me.  Many times I’ve discovered I can help people by just seeing what they see.  Walking around and looking for those needs, is key to finding the needs I can meet.
  • Avoid Groups. By this I mean, that I avoid standing around in groups of cliques.  If you go to church you know what I mean.  I don’t hang out with the other pastors in the lobby, loiter in front of the nursery, or restrict myself to the guest connections counter.  I’m not rude, but I just never stay in one place very long.
  • Smile. Oh, did I already mention this one?

If you’re working at a church, and you’re not deliberately working to make yourself available to those that need you…then you’re missing one of your greatest callings!

Pursue Parenting Excellence

LoveOverTime

“Having success for a year or two, that’s called being hot. Being in demand. Excellence is being able to perform at a high level for a long period of time.”

— Jay Z, music artist and entrepreneur

I know a number of people who have experienced overnight success with a product or startup, but as parents the idea of “overnight success” should be dismissed immediately.  If you believe for even a moment that one fantastic conversation with your child will set the course for the rest of their lives, then you are delusional. Excellence is something that comes over a long period of time.

The good news is that because it’s a long time coming, there is time to bring correction to my own parenting mistakes. My excellence isn’t measured in hours and days or even weeks. It is instead measured over years and decades. I think I can tackle this decade thing, it’s the hourly thing I’m struggling with.

Love over time, time over time, words over time, hugs over time, attention over time, dinners over time, car rides over time, ice cream after school…over time. Its the distance we travel that creates the greatest impression on our children.

So make it a point to pursue excellence, not quick fixes. Excellence is who you are…over time.

 

 

Setting and Keeping Goals

I’m a big list maker.  I prefer the Santa method, I make a list and check it twice.  My moleskin is full of to-do’s, notes, and things I need to remember to stay on top of all that I’m required to do.  But sometimes the list needs to get bigger, and be in front of you more.  There are some lists that fit the category of “Official Goals.”  But goals doesn’t suffice entirely, because goals can be broken down further into three different categories.

  1. Everyday Goals -> You could call these core values, mission statements, or whatever; but I prefer “everyday goals” as they are the filter that allow us to say no to other good ideas.  On our ministry team I have 3 everyday goals, and they are on my dry erase goal board…right at the top in red ink!
  2. Short Term Goals -> These are things that get specific, and I should be working on  immediately  (like yesterday if possible!)  These goals are quick-fix things that we can accomplish quickly and with limited discussion.  The accountability on these is fierce and lightning fast, because it has to be done and it has to be done shortly.
  3. Long Term Goals -> These are the goals that make everyone uncomfortable.  These are sometimes audacious and dreamer-oriented; but at the same time I have to see them as  immensely  doable at some point in the future.  I stay away from impossible things here, but still want to stretch myself with the long term initiatives of the team I lead.

But after I’ve nailed these down and illustrated them out for everyone, I can easily end up with 20 short term goals and 20 long term goals; so what to do now?  Break them down into different areas of responsibilities; and start delegating them out.  And for heaven’s sake put them up where you can see them!  Here is an example of the goals worksheet my team and I have created together (click image to view them in a large format.)

In some upcoming posts I’m going to talk about the process of coming up with the goals themselves.  Because they are truly owned by everyone on our NextGen team, and that may be the most important part of all of this!