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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Agenda Action Items

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business (J-B Lencioni Series)

"But the fact is, bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders."-Patrick Lencioni

I don't care what type of organization hosts or holds what type of meetings.  If the organization does not have an agreed and adhered to structure to its meeting, things can go haywire in a hurry.  It can be the YMCA or PTA, people will drift when they are not directed to stick to the structure that is in place.  It can be a corporate annual meeting or a community-based organization's monthly meeting, but there should be an agenda with some action items.

The agenda identifies what will be discussed and reported.  In particular, there are also those action items that will be voted on identified within the agenda.  Many organizations structure their meetings with public comment at the beginning of the meeting.  These are usually appeals or addresses to the board or the entire body.  These are heard out, usually with a time limit like two minutes.  They are not action items and do not require a comment or questioning from the board or the floor.  That's where the discipline must come in with the determined structure.  Some people may know the rules, but something just prevents them from following them.

You may need a sergeant at arms or a parliamentarian. The title may vary, but the functions pretty much run along the same lines.  They keep things in order when the chairperson seems to allow some things to run afoul or astray.  You know some parent meetings for those Pop Warner and Pee Wee teams can get sort of heated.  There may need to be some beefed up measures for an organization to keep order, so review your structure, including roles and rules.
  • Roles: Who is supposed to do what? Chairperson... Parliamentarian... Secretary...
  • Rules: Robert's Rules of Order? Or, do you use another format? Be sure that all in attendance know what it is.
  • Reporting: Written reports versus oral reports... time limits... published or unpublished...
  • Responses: Cut down the confusion and cut off people on the board responding to comments from the floor.  Address the outbursts as disorder, ask for them to stop and demonstrate some restraint, and then move on with the agenda.

Robert's Rules for Dummies

You maintain order by restricting board members from responding to outbursts from the floor.  If not, there will be a cacophony of chaos as people go back and forth with their various comments and responses to any and every single thing thrown out there.  In many environments like school board meetings and city council meetings, people can have an outburst if they want to, but they most probably will be escorted out into either the hallway or the parking lot by security or some other authority figure.  That's realistic. 

Set it up for success.  If you have been in an organization where the inmates seem to be running the asylum, stop the bleeding and set some order in place.  Share some insights about board training and running public meetings.  Do you accept public funds? You know that redevelopment money or those block grants.  Those are public funds.  That means your meeting- uh-oh- is open to the public.  Learn how to deal with the public in a decent and disciplined manner.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seeking Change

How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life
I know I've been changed / Angels in heaven done sign my name
-Lyrics from Negro spiritual

People seek change.  In fact, many people speak of change as if change itself is an elixir to all of the issues and problems that they and others face.  Many organizations talk it up when they state that they are undergoing change.  New year's resolutions are filled with change running throughout the entire concept.  President Obama swept the nation with a campaign full of change.  Change is on the tip of the tongues of many.

The church is called to change.  So many prayers go up about change that it can become dizzying when one visits a local church's prayer meetings or prayer vigils.  Yet, much of what is prayed about to change deals with the external things.  God may or may not change them.  However, the earnest request of the Christian should be to seek internal change.  The Christian must seek to be changed from the inside out.

Christians in ministry leadership should seek to identify what change needs to occur within themselves before pleading with the Lord to change the hearts of the people under their leadership.  Start with seeking change for yourself, and then demonstrate the change that comes about for you.  Seek to live out your change right before the eyes of your people, making a difference by behaving and operating differently.  Become changed.

The Christian in business is no different.  Many Christians may not work in a Christian-friendly environment, but that doesn't mean that they must become a product of their environment.  These same Christians must stand out as shining examples of Christian strength in the workplace.  They cannot simply seek God and hope for everything around them to change, leaving them as they were before.  No, they must change as well.  Situations arise for a reason.  We must learn the life lesson out of all that we encounter.  Yet, we must be aware that the change that needs to occur might just need to start within us before we can see any change going on around us.

Seek change.  See the change that may need to come about within you and through you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Economies of Scale

We should be cognizant of economies of scale.  In our lives and our businesses, we need to be mindful of each endeavor and how it impacts other plans and wishes.  It can happen in ministry, too.  The church is not immune to fiscal issues.  You have to weigh all of your options in light of your resources.  Times like these require managers and leaders to see how they can scale back services, employee hours, and hours of operation. Yes, the overall economy is not pretty at all.  However, taking charge of the situation works way better than becoming overwhelmed.

Scale up and scale down.
  • Scale Up: savings, efficiency, and standards
  • Scale Down: costs, expenses and wasted resources
When it comes to running a tight ship, you just have to tighten things up where you can and how you can.  You don't want to work on the wrong thing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Leadership Skills and Style

"Leadership is an art, something to be learned over time, not simply by reading books."- Max DePree
Leadership Is an Art
If leadership, like DePree says, is truly a form of art, then there are definitely different levels and types of leadership.  I may become absorbed with the the leadership style demonstrated by a young adult or men's ministry pastor and sort of thrown off by the youth or children's pastor and his leadership style.  Each may be a leader by position but each also may have a different way of approaching their craft.

Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time
I find that Christian leadership has some basics that include what should matter in the "real world," too.  Those in ministry leadership positions may very well be empowered and entrusted to lead.  However, if they are not equipped to lead, then the ministry itself suffers.

Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know
Ministry leadership should always:
  • Involve People: Gather those who are willing.  Do not call a meeting to run down a list of who is not here and wondering why Brother Smith didn't show up.  Don't do that.  Call people together with an agenda and some actions in mind and on paper.  Include a sign-up sheet for special task teams, too.  Go forward and get people involved.
Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner)
Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda

Strength to Love

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Promote the Positive

The Power of Positive Thinking
Look at how Norman Vincent Peale breaks down some common challenges for people.
Positive thinking is powerful.  It has both blessings and benefits.  The power of positivity can carry you through some unbelievable storms.  Don't think that bad things don't happen to good people.  We all encounter various challenges day by day.  the difference is made by how we handle those challenges.

Embrace a positive mindset.  Don't let negative thinking invade your mind.  Keep a positive outlook and expect positive outcomes.

Let the Lord and His Word work on you.  Let His Word sink in and enrich you.  Let it take root in your willing soul.

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.- Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

Hidden Fruit

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.- Luke 6:43-44 (ESV)

Check around you.  Look under your seat or in that junk drawer at home.  You may have some hidden fruit.  I said hidden fruit, not forbidden fruit.  I am speaking of the qualitative impact of your ministry or business on the lives of others.  These are the impacts that may not manifest on quarterly programmatic reports or become highlights or recaps during this year's financial projections at the annual church business meeting.  They are the qualitative things that make a difference in the lives of the people that you serve.

You are known by your fruit.  Your fruit is evidence of the work that went into that project or that incident.  Your fruit can either be good or bad, but it says more about where it came from (more like "who" than "where") than of itself.  You may not see it now, but you most probably have some hidden fruit somewhere that is still spreading its seeds around these days.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Practice of Partnerships

25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
 - Acts 11:25-26 (KJV)

The Bible speaks of partnerships.  We are given numerous New Testament examples through Paul and Silas as well as Paul and Barnabas, Peter and John, and the Sons of Thunder, James and John.  However, the Old Testament gives us a few partnerships, too.  Moses and Aaron,  Jonathan and David, and Joshua and Caleb

In fact, the Bible expressly states that Barnabas went out looking for a man who he knew could help this group of new believers along with him.  They connected in a previous period where Barnabas had vouched for the brother in his own style as the Son of Encouragement.  Barnabas contacted Saul in Tarsus.  They both committed to the work, spending an entire year strengthening these "Christians" which is what they completed. Those are some starting blocks for building a partnership in ministry: connect, contact, commit and complete.  You all of these together and with each other in mind.

Partnerships bring about:
  • Blessings: whether it is prayer or collateral, you need a partner who will be a blessing to you; you should serve as a blessing to your partner in business or ministry
  • Benefits: your partner may bring something to the table that you do not bring; you surely do not carry the entire weight of the burden alone when you have a partner
  • Bonds:  your partner builds a bond with you over time that strengthens your relationship; you see him as a brother beloved or her as a dear sister; the bond between the two of you is solid
A Bonus View of an OT Partnership:

6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” - Numbers 14: 6-9 (NIV)

Joshua and Caleb seem to be a partnership that withstood some heavy opposition (Numbers 13, Numbers 14).  Imagine trying to hold on to what God says when the naysayers outnumber you and are convincing those who have authority over you.  Try as you might, both you and your partner can take a stand but neither of you can convince your Moses, the shepherd of your flock, to see what God is doing and can do for you and His people. In fact, it looks like speaking up could lead to your own doom.  Oddly enough, it appears that both Joshua and Caleb got a view of the on-the-job training of Moses and Aaron as they learned from God throughout the wilderness wanderings over those forty years.

In all of it, the people complained and condemned the two young men who had served as spies.  The people condemned them, but the Lord commended them and their belief.  Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.  The Lord spoke of the two being the only two of those spies and that generation over twenty to make it into the promised land.  For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.  Then, the Lord seals it all up with a simple narrative:  Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.

If you are facing opposition, build your partnerships where you can.  Find someone of similar or like faith on your job, in your ministry, at your church or in your network of friends and associates.  Pray to God to show you who He has in mind for you to walk in tandem with.  God doesn't intend for you to take on every obstacle alone.  See how He is working on your behalf.  See Him at work in the midst of the misery and through the trials and tests.  Start seeking that person now.