Habits impact churches much more than they realize. In fact, many churches are stuck because of bad habits.
Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit, “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-consumed decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own ... over time the way we organize our thoughts and routines has enormous impacts.”
Lately, I have noticed four recurring bad habits developed by teams with no clear ministry strategy.
Feeling under pressure? Overworked? Are you and your team working hard but can’t seem to keep up, let alone get ahead?
You are not alone. This is a very common church staff scenario. What you do about it can be a game-changer.
In more than 20 years of creating new positions and hiring staff, I’ve lived with the tension of needing to know how many staff is the right number, what positions are the right positions and when is the right time to hire more people. The thing that increases the tension is that there are so many different opinions about the answers to those questions.
Booz & Company just recently completed a study asking leaders about their business strategy. Based on their research, they found that most executives don't believe their company's strategy is understood by their employees and customers. Even more astonishing, 54 percent of executives do not believe their company's strategy will lead to success.
Can you believe that? More than half of businesses are being led by executives who don't believe their organizations have a plan to experience success. I can only assume these businesses are going through the motions today, hoping (and maybe praying) for better future results.
Olan Hendrix once said, “Strategic thinking is like showering; you have to keep doing it.” Many churches are intentional about setting short and long-term goals. Unfortunately, because there is no ongoing process, they quickly get stuck and revert back to previous ways of thinking once goals are accomplished.
Strategic Operating Plans guide teams to clarify their mission, vision and core strategies—and then create the right structure and accountability to realize it through prioritized action initiatives. The process is a continual circle because strategic thinking must always be ongoing.
The May edition of Fast Company recently featured an article by Danielle Sacks that really demonstrates the importance of strategic planning.
The power of accountability sets the tone in any organization.
So, what about when someone completely drops the ball?We all have experienced this as leaders. I know I have. How do you respond?
You give a big assignment or project to someone on your team, and they lay an egg—totally drop the ball and don’t get it done. We’ve all been there. I know I have, both as the goat who goofed up, as well as the one in charge trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
So, how do you handle it? Let’s look at this situation from both sides—both the one who dropped the ball and the one in charge.
Pastors, we tend to share a lot throughout the year. Some of you are preparing two or three messages and presentations every week. When you repeat that process 52 times in a year, life gets exhausting. How do you stay motivated to keep going?
Let me share with you how I’ve managed to motivate myself. Here are 17 things you can do to keep yourself motivated.
1. Put your plans on paper. Write out what you want to accomplish. Spell it out. Dawson Trotman said, ”Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague.
Autumn is coming before we know it! If your church staff is like most, you are gearing up to start your fall planning.
Here are some things to consider as you put your planning down on paper:
1.Why do you do what you do? For every event or series you put on the calendar, ask yourself “Why?” If you answer, “Because we always have the ladies' tea the second Saturday in November,” it might be time to change your traditions.
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is this: “Do you have any sample performance evaluation forms you can send me?” To be honest, I do have samples, but I never send them.
Why don’t I send them? Well, let me ask you: Have you ever seen a traditional performance evaluation system that actually improves performance? Probably not. To my knowledge, no such form exists. You don’t need a sample form. Instead, you need to lead well.
There’s a perpetuating myth in leadership circles that every good leader does annual performance reviews. That’s not true. You can be a great leader without going through the agony of filling out your annual HR evaluation forms.
In a recent conversation, I was reminded of a set of questions that Marcus Buckingham developed to measure job satisfaction. This list is several years old, but it still provides great insights. I challenge you to consider going through these questions with your team. (My team will.)
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment that I need in order to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my job is important?
9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the past six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This past year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
Which one of those 12 questions challenges you the most? You can check out the rest of the magazine article originally published in Fast Company.
By the way, Buckingham also has a resource available called The Truth about You (Thomas Nelson, 2008). It’s a toolkit including a DVD, interactive book and a “rememo” pad to help you enjoy higher satisfaction with life and work.
Among other things Buckingham confirms, “You’ll never turn your weaknesses into strengths.” I hope that sets you free.
Pastor, you’ve got a sleeping giant in your church. If you awake that sleeping giant, it’ll change your church, your community and the world.
This sleeping giant in your church is your unengaged lay people.
If 10 percent of your church does most of the work, you have nine entire churches your size sitting on the sidelines each week. Fully engaged, the ministry potential of your church is mind-boggling!
We all find ourselves in the position of “leading up” at some point in our lives. Whether it’s in the workplace or where we volunteer, we all have an opportunity to lead our leaders.
There are times when I’ve led my leaders well and times I have not. Here are three critical steps I’ve learned to take in order to lead up with success.
1. Meeting before the meeting. I watched this play out in a scenario I’ve been walking through. It’s brilliant. Have a ‘meeting before the meeting.’ If you’re leading into a challenging topic with leadership, it serves you well to make a quick connection in advance, letting the other person know what the meeting is about. No details. Just a quick overview that gives them something to digest. A brief snippet that sets the stage for the conversation. This puts your leader in a proactive posture rather than a reactive posture.
There’s nothing more challenging interpersonally than dealing with a serious conflict with someone on your church staff or a volunteer in a key position in your ministry.
The temptation would be to let time heal it or hope that the tension simply goes away on its own. But fight those feelings because conflict in the church, especially on a team, has to be dealt with well in order for genuine progress to be made.
Can’t we all just get along? Actually, no, and that’s probably a good thing because it forces us to tackle conflict in a God-honoring manner. Here are some steps to move toward resolution when you find yourself in conflict with someone on staff.
Have you ever heard the phrase “odd man out?” It means you didn’t fit. You don’t measure up for some reason. You were excluded. It hurts.
I’ve been that person numerous times. I get it because I’m pastor sometimes. People assume I can’t also be fun. So they don’t invite me to the party. I experienced it some in business circles. There are haves and have nots in many business circles. I was mostly in the have nots. I’ve even been excluded though for having too much. People assume because I’m not struggling like they are that I probably never have.
We’ve all been excluded at some point in life.
Have you ever opened your refrigerator and said with passion, “Whoa, what IS that smell? I have and it’s no fun. I quickly launch a breath-holding expedition to find the source of the foul smell that is making everything stink too.
We don’t just leave it there do we? We get rid of it. We agree that it’s unacceptable and do something about it.
There are things that can make your leadership team or staff “smell bad” too.
I call them the foul four. I recently checked my thinking by doing quick interviews with a half dozen “bosses” of church staff asking the question: “What are the characteristics of staff you like the least? The four held steady.
Are you choosing to be an empowered leader or an empowering one? The results for each one couldn’t be more opposite—or impacting. A leader whose focus is holding on to power will ultimately cause a ministry team to fall apart. A leader who centers on others will grow that team and ultimately develop more leaders who empower others to build the kingdom.
Teams don’t need empowered leaders but leaders who are truly empower-ing, who know that serving a church and ministry team is an honor and a privilege. They make their mark not by controlling the team but by challenging, facilitating and empowering the individuals on the team to realize their collective potential for God’s kingdom purposes.
As a leader, there are many times I feel like the mediator between opposing viewpoints. I’m steering towards a common, shared vision, but there are a myriad of opinions in how we accomplish the vision.
I’m not afraid of conflict on a team. In fact, I think it can be healthy for the team if handled correctly. It keeps tension from building unnecessarily, simply because emotions and opinions are hidden rather than addressed. It brings new ideas to the table and welcomes input from everyone. When conflict is ignored or stifled, it makes people feel devalued and controlled.
When faced with conflict on my team, I realize the way I handle it will go a long way toward allowing the disagreement to work for the overall good. In fact, I must learn to better manage the conflicts rather than attempt to kill them.
Here are seven thoughts for managing conflict on a team:
When considering who should be on the senior leadership team, many times we try to answer the wrong questions. Sometimes we ask, “What positions should be represented on the team?” In the church world, we may think the “Pastor” or “Director” title, or people with certain positions automatically qualify. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes we ask, “Who has been around for the longest?” Tenure does not necessarily equate with the profile of the person you want serving on this team. In fact, I’d argue that if you’re stuck and fresh perspective is one of your needs, you might want to consider including the newest person on the team.
Does God want us to hire a youth pastor? Should we mortgage the church to pay for a remodel? Should I run this new program?
These decisions can keep you up at night. Yet, by making two easy changes in the way you process decisions, you will dramatically increase the probability of success.
Ask Broader Questions When we face leadership choices, we tend to ask narrow questions. Studies show that closed-ended questions, which require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, do not help us make the best decision. You will reach a better decision with lasting results if you ask different questions. Take a step back and consider broader questions. Here are some examples: