How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 3 of 3)

 

Be nice to the cab driver

Wherever you find yourself, always, always, always look for ways to help people. No one will ever condemn you for being nice (and if they do, it says more about them than about you).

Speak kind words – thank you, please, yes ma’am, and yes sir. People appreciate politeness and it often deflates someone’s anger before they wail on you.

Often how you treat people becomes the way you are treated by the person with whom you’re dealing.

Respect the cabbie, anyone else in the cab with you, and anyone else whose waiting alongside you. Respect people.

If you give the cab driver the wrong address, don’t blame the drive

Everyone makes mistakes in life; everyone makes LOTS of mistakes. Learn how to handle them:

  • Don’t blame others for what YOU did or didn’t do
  • Analyze what went wrong and what you need to do next time
  • Handle the error with grace and aplomb – people will observe you how you deal with pressure and messy situations, especially ones that you created

Enjoy the ride and watch the scenery but watch the meter and other details

Take in the big picture of life as you travel. It can be as grand and glorious as you want it to be (if you take a few chances along the way). But also learn to observe the details that can make the experience of life that much more full of color. A field of flowers is beautiful; but each flower is amazing in itself.

Change cabs if your current cab can’t take you all the way

Be willing to adapt to the current situation and you absolutely must be willing to change as life changes. Flow is the best answer to flux. So, FLOW.

You’ll need to fight upstream a few times when injustice requires it. Thump bullies on the nose – they deserve it and it will teach them a lesson, but only do it if the cause is noble.

Other times you’ll need to jump and you’ll get some bruises and even broken bones. Leaping from the safety of your current ride is really scary but sometimes necessary.

Be ready for your destination

Look ahead to see what’s coming. Always be prepared. Know when the end of the current ride is drawing near and gather your stuff you’ve accumulated on that ride so you can leave properly. You can glance back to see where you came from but don’t linger – you need to be already looking for your next ride.

Get out when you arrive and don’t be pushed out the door

Sometimes the cab is ready for you to leave when you aren’t. Be intuitive enough to know that this period is over and you need to leave. Leave graciously – it speaks to your character. You’ll probably never take that same cab again, but word of who you are will travel quickly and affect what taxi you catch next.

 

And remember, have fun on the ride of your life!

 

Lead On!

Steve

How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 2 of 3)

Some cabs are going in the same direction as you

The sign of a good leader is when some people are following you and some are chasing you. Know the difference and know the motivation behind how each person is acting – motives reveal all.

Just because someone is going the same direction as you doesn’t mean they agree with everything you say and do and just because someone is going the other way doesn’t mean they wish you ill. But the same is true for you, too. You don’t have to agree with everyone going in your direction or loathe people going the opposite direction. Observe what others are doing and attempt to learn from them – that is wisdom, a hallmark of a great leader.

Know if you want to go with others or take a ride solo

Life’s ride is short and long. Sometimes you want to go alone through some passages while other times the ride is better together. You have to know both your own personality and the passage you’re going through to decide if you want to go through that time alone or not. Making the wrong decision can be painful, but it is never fatal.

You may need to rest a while between rides. Take time. Think about whether you want or need to go solo or with friends. Sometimes it is good to process the knowledge and info you’ve received. Be intentional about setting aside time to think.

Don’t ride with all your baggage; put it in the trunk, out of sight

Some bags are bulkier than others. Learn to empty your bags of garbage so that you don’t carry your trash around. It won’t help anyone and just stinks up the place. Some luggage needs to be left behind once and for all. Some bags need to be given to others through talking with a counselor who can ride with you for a few minutes. Never be encumbered by your last few rides – always build one experience on another for a richer life.

Talk to the cabbie and/or anyone else in the cab

Introverts and extroverts will view this differently. I’m an introvert. I do fine sitting in silence for long periods. But sometimes I just want to ask a question or share an experience with someone. And I’ve learned that getting (well-reasoned) opinions of others can make the ride more fun. Of course, I’ve also had to listen to a few crackpots – just enjoy them for their idiosyncrasies!

Lead On!

Steve

How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 1 of 3)

If I had to give a graduation speech – which I’ve never done – what would I say? Something like this:

Know where you are and be conscious of why you want to leave

You need to know why you want to leave before you decide you should leave. You need to have a compelling reason to leave. If you don’t know where you are and why you want to leave, you’ll end up nowhere. Take stock of your home and what it offers before you leave – you can appreciate where you’re going more if you know what you’re leaving behind.

Know where you want to go (or at least the neighborhood where you want to end up)

Have some goals in mind. They don’t need to be your final goals but establish a general direction. Birds don’t know their exact landing spot; they start moving in the direction they want to go and decide where to land when they near their destination. You can be pretty general about this and always be willing to change as you progress in your life, but you need to have a general direction to start.

Know which direction you need to go first

You’ll probably change careers seven to ten times in your life. You don’t need to know every step of the way, just the immediate next step. Don’t worry about every step, just plan on the next one. Then, start. You’re not going to have everything planned out so don’t get “analysis paralysis” – just get started.

Stand out from the rest so that a cabbie will see you and stop

There’s a lot of competition out there. Learn early on how to stand out from the rest. That usually means becoming the best of who YOU really are. Always be honest with yourself – it makes living with you easier. Be unique. Don’t try to be like everyone or anyone else – be who God made you.

Know if the cab is going in the wrong direction or taking the long way around

You’re going to meet some people in life who just want to take you for a ride. Don’t be taken in by those who con your emotions for their own gain. Always be willing to speak up for yourself – people are impressed by that. Often, those who speak up for themselves and others are called leaders. Be that.

Lead On!

Steve

The Executive Pastor’s Ministry

Does an executive pastor do any ministry or that position completely subsumed in financial, personnel, and facilities management? Good question and here’s my answer:

  1. “Back office” work is ministry, but at a creative and different level. It is not “just” paperwork. I can’t tell you the number of vendors I’ve talked to about church – and those are doors that are not open to other staff persons. When I’ve called a customer service line and got a call center in India, I knew that they could see they were dealing with a church and that I might be the only Christian that person EVER speaks to in his/her life. Paying bills on time is a HUGE witness to vendors who are sour on church. I used all those things to educate other ministers to help them think outside the box and understand that the minutia they detested really did have a Kingdom impact. Think about this as not “just paperwork” but as opportunities for creative ministry. For instance, every year I shred old financial docs – I leverage that by telling members that they can bring in their stuff to shred (because I really don’t much for the shredder). The senior adults LOVE that they can bring in all their old files from the 1960s. So, what I was doing any way I could use to help others and everyone wins.
  2. The XP ministry is higher and more focused in scope. XPs continue to do the ministry they were doing before but now use those opportunities to train the campus and other pastors so they can learn from the XP. Every XP must seek every chance to teach the next rising generation how to do avoid mistakes and to stand taller on the XP’s shoulders. XPs get to work with a high level of volunteers and members – leaders in their community and businesses who can open doors for the church that most ministers can’t imagine. That can give an XP an opportunity to reach people who would never come to the church, all because the XP is working with high-net worth members or upper management members. Most churches neglect high capacity donors but that needs to a focal point for the Senior & Executive Pastors for both the sake of those people and of the church.
  3. The XP ministry is at a broader level. Not just on a campus but on a larger basis and even, through professional contacts, the XP reaches people across the state and region. People will come to the XP’s church to learn the way that church does things and the XP can teach them so they can replicate what the XP is doing in their own context. Just as the XP needs to follow in the footsteps of others, every XP is also responsible for pulling those behind him or her up to his or her level. This is a leadership position – one that people look up to and want to emulate. This position needs to be worth following, not “just another minister.”

The ministry of the XP is more creative, deeper, higher, and broader than other ministers. It requires more excellent ministers to do this work for the Kingdom.

Lead On!

Steve

“Not My Job” Syndrome

I’ve heard that saying too many times. I’ve heard it from both church staff and from church members. That saying bothers me. It is an excuse to not do something that should be done but for whatever reason the person feels it is not their responsibility. I’ve seen it said by people looking at trash on the floor of a church or icy sidewalks – “the church needs to get it’s custodian to do his job” or when a person is in the hospital or shut-in at home – “the pastor or deacons need to go visit, that’s not my job.”

 

People who think like this tend to think like employees, even if they are volunteers and members – they are there to do a specific task, they aren’t responsible to do anything outside their areas, and they fear the consequences of taking action so they do nothing.

 

On the other hand, owners will often do things they’ve assigned to others (because that other person is doing something else); owners will take initiative and not wait for things to happen; owners will empower others and even absorb criticism because they know what they are doing is for the best.

 

Church leaders must expect all staff and all members to be owners – of the mission and vision of the church, of the church’s finances and facilities, of the ministries and programs that are the lifeblood of the church. God has entrusted all these resources to us – God wants us to act like owners.

 

Lead On!

Steve

Board of Directors versus Customers

The board of directors of an organization is charged with supervising the leader and helping set the strategic vision and goals for that organization. Board members are usually selected for their vision and wisdom. Boards are strategic-thinking with the long view. Sometimes boards are accused of being dispassionate and uncaring about employees and even customers.

 

Customers are sometimes quite passionate about what they want and sometimes even have “what’s in it for me right now” mindset. They have a need for immediate gratification – that’s why they’re in the store. Customers are occasionally vocal about their needs and that emotion can lead to tense interactions.

 

A church is unique in that church members are both board members and customers. Sometimes a member will act like a board member and sometimes like a customer – and sometimes the member will do that in the same meeting.  That puts church staff in a tough position – they have to learn when a member is acting in what capacity. Church staff are caught in-between and that can lead to confusing messages to them.

 

Most of the time, members think and act like customers. That is a good rule of thumb. Church staff need to always think like board members. Leaders act like board members.

All key church committee members must act like board members (that’s what they are in that role). And in church business meetings, members must be encouraged to think like board members not act like customers.

 

Consider your own situation: are you teaching your church leaders to be board members or customers?

 

Lead On!

Steve

How do you define loyalty?

“A strong feeling of support or allegiance” is the dictionary definition.

 

Many people feel that loyalty is when a person adheres unquestioningly to something or someone. In church work I’ve seen this exemplified when staff and members look to their leader(s) and express support for whatever he or she wants to do. And in return, the leaders expect their staff and most members, to follow whatever they say regardless of what it is. That is loyalty to some, but not to me. To me, that can even be a betrayal of trust, the opposite of loyalty.

 

Loyalty is when a person supports and has allegiance to a person or principle, but is willing to ask hard questions and not be satisfied with simplistic answers. Loyalty is challenging a leader privately on his statements before (and after) he goes public. Loyalty is being willing to speak truth to power knowing it may cost you your job and career. Loyalty is being constructively critical for the benefit of the leader and of the entire organization.

 

That kind of loyalty helps your leader be a better leader. A leader may not like this kind of feedback but in the long run it will help him or her. After all, it is better for a leader to hear criticism from members of his own team who want the organization to succeed just as much as the leader. I challenge leaders to invite constructive feedback, not just accolades. Constant praise or at least non-criticism does not help a leader grow.

 

Be loyal by helping the leader be better to help the church be better through appropriate and constructive private criticism and public support.

 

Lead On!

Steve

Personnel are not Benevolence

Church staff members have the most important job in the world – teaching and leading church members to tell others the Good News of God’s love. Since church staff have the most important job in the world, there should be some pretty high performance expectations of some pretty qualified and capable people. Church work is not for sissies – it demands the best and brightest. To have less is to imply that God’s message is not that important, that anyone can do it, even caustic personalities.

 

Churches are commanded to help everyone: those with emotional scars, the hurting and even those who do the hurting. But too often I’ve seen churches decide that the only way they can help is to actually hire that person as church staff. That is wrong.

  • That person’s problems will NOT be resolved by working for a church (in fact, they might be made worse)
  • Existing staff will see that the church hire “just about anyone” and it will degrade employee morale
  • Members who know the situation will continue to feel pity for this person (and have the same feelings toward other staff) and members who don’t know will wonder why the church continues to hire “5s and 6s when they should have 9s and 10s”
  • Society will see the church as a place for “losers” and want nothing to do with it.

I realize these statements are generalizations but there is some truth to them.

 

I challenge church leaders to stop hiring charity cases and instead hire the most outstanding people they can find. The church can and must continue to help people in need by giving them food, paying for rent and utilities, helping with medical bills, providing counseling and comfort. But the church cannot and must never be an employment agency.

 

The church, more than ever, needs quality and charisma (and by inference must be willing to pay appropriate compensation). The church must set exceedingly high standards for its employees but also for its members. That kind of expectations will naturally draw other high-standard people (both as staff and members) because people inherently want to be part of something really great.

 

Lead On!

Steve