Monday, January 11, 2010

Nothing Fashionable about Being Late

I hate being late. I don't even like being "on time." I prefer to have a cushion, arriving for an appointment or an event in plenty of time to give me some margin.

When I am late, everything changes. Especially my mood. It becomes rotten, and it will likely not only spoil MY evening, but perhaps yours, if we cross paths.
So, I avoid being late at all costs. I'd much prefer to get there early than to make my problem yours.

I would wager that most (not all) people feel the same way. Being late compromises their "plan." Hurry will do that. When we hurry, we skip over things that deserve more of our time, and we make everything - and everyone - miserable in our wake.

Let's apply this in the church world for a moment. I am fortunate to be on staff at a church that really has a lot going for it. We have energy, life, vitality. And, because of that, space has now become an issue. That being said, parking spaces and seats are now in short supply.

So, if you are me, and you don't like being late, and you don't like fighting for a parking spot or for a seat, I have some choices to make. I can either show up really early - say, 30 minutes before the services begin, and ensure that I get a seat and a parking spot. Or, I can just jump into the sea and let the waves carry me wherever they want to take me.

Our church services begin at 9:30 and 11 a.m. If I choose to show up at church any time after 9:25 a.m. for the 9:30 service, I am in trouble. Likewise, if I show up after 10:50 a.m. or so. Keep in mind that if I arrive 10 minutes early, I still have to find a parking space, walk to the building, take my kids to their classrooms, then find a seat in the auditorium. Can I do all that in 5 minutes? No way. Could I do it in 10 minutes? Maybe, but I'd still be rushed, which will put me in a bad mood. SO, my best bet is to arrive at least 20 minutes early and be certain that I can get it all done with a few minutes to spare.

It still surprises me that we have cars drive up 15 and 20 minutes after the service begins. I'm glad they are there, but many of these people expect to find a parking spot close to the building and a seat in the worship center at this time, and they are upset when there's not.

Further, it's just plain rude. Imagine if you had an important meeting at work that began at 10:00 a.m. Everyone is there except one person, who arrives 20 minutes late. What happens when that person walks in? There's a distraction. The person delivering the message is distracted, and may lose focus. The other employees are distracted, and some may have to move so this person can find a seat closer to the door, so they don't have to crawl over people.

Does this sound familiar?

Obviously, there are times when we cannot avoid being late. But, when you are always late, you have a problem. And, your problem doesn't just affect you. It affects your entire family, your co-workers, your fellow church congregants, drivers around you on the road - everyone in your wake.

Do yourself a favor. Leave ten minutes earlier than you think you need to leave. You'll be glad you did. And, I will too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pest Control - Part Three

Following is the third installment of some of the leadership lessons and excerpts from Tony Morgan's book, entitled Killing Cockroaches:

Follow the Leader
The multiplication of leadership is something that is nurtured over time. As a leader, you need to:
  1. Communicate a big vision - remind people often, then do it again.
  2. Point to the destination - Let others determine how to get there. Your job is vision.
  3. Find people who are smarter than you - and give them keys to the car.
  4. Think relationships before you think results. People need your time, and they need to know your heart, your passions, and your desires. Leadership only goes as far as the relationships you have built - and no further.
About web sites:
Ask yourself, "Does the web site for our organization engage conversation and help connect people into community, or are we just spewing information about who we are and what we do?"
If you're just giving people pretty pictures and sharing information on your web site like it's an online bulletin, they're probably not using your web site.

Implementing New Ideas
How quickly do new ideas get implemented in your organization? Does your decision-making model allow for rapid deployment and testing, or do ideas get bogged down in meeting discussions?

Gunky Build-up
For me (Tony Morgan), gunky build-up occurs when I let less important stuff squeeze out the real priorities in my life. For example,
  • Sometimes I believe the lie that I'll spend quality time with my wife at the end of the day after everything else is done. The reality is that the last thing on my priority list rarely gets done.
  • Sometimes I believe the lie that goals will be accomplished without a plan if I'm just patient and faithful. The reality is that most goals worth pursuing require counsel and strategy and hard work and commitment.
Cultural "Irrelevance"
Wouldn't it be something if Christ followers embraced these opportunities (like facebook, Twitter, going trick-or-treating at Halloween) rather than trying to create a Christian alternative to every cultural fad?

I need to end on that one. I give that last one a huge AMEN!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This, Bud, 's for You!

For years – OK, actually three decades – I refused to read anything I wasn’t being graded on. And, even then, my best friend was a little yellow and black striped publication called Cliff’s Notes. But, since I turned 30, I have been a reading fool. Since January 2004, I have read at least 85 books, many twice. According to recent studies, that is about 75 books more than the average person read over that same time period. Yay me!

My goal when selecting a book to read – whether it’s the Bible, a novel, or a book on leadership, is to personally benefit from the wisdom the author shares – to apply bits and pieces to my life and influence others in a positive way. But, while this is my intent, it’s funny what happens when I begin to read. I become a Pharisee.

I don’t know about you, but many times I’ll be reading a profound truth, and instead of looking inward and prayerfully considering how I can change for the better, I’ll say something like, “That perfectly describes so-and-so. If only he/she could read this…”

But, here’s the deal. More than likely that person in my mind – or yours – who would benefit greatly or improve themselves in our eyes by reading these nuggets of wisdom, wouldn’t get anything at all out of it, because they’d be thinking of other people, too, when they read it! It’s a vicious cycle!

Some of you right now are reading this, and you’re saying to yourself, “This article is right on the money! Johnny – or Sally – needs to read this! They are ALWAYS so critical other people, and rarely heed their own advice.”

Here’s what Jesus had to say about that: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 (NLT)

Is it wrong to automatically think of others’ shortcomings when you read the Bible, or an Andy Stanley book? According to Jesus, it sounds like that’s the case. This is so tough. We all have people we love, work with, live with, spend a lot of time with. We spend enough time with these people that we actually begin to see the chinks in their armor. And, if we’re not careful, that is what we wind up focusing on – their flaws, imperfections, and inadequacies.

If you really have an issue with someone, speak with that person and do it humbly with love. But, don’t let it fester. And, if you find yourself never trying to improve in any areas in your own life (or maybe you think you’re perfect), you’re on the road to alienating everyone who knows you.

In the end, it’s the attitude of your heart that dictates the amount of joy you bring into your life, and into others’ lives. If we really want to see other people change, then we have to be willing to change. When we seek God, with the goal of becoming a better friend, better father, better co-worker, etc. and we put those thoughts into action, we’ll all be shocked to see how the pieces fall into place – far better than we could have imagined!

Oh, and don’t pass this on to anyone else. This, bud, ‘s for you.