A huge job change

I started my company in 2005. It has changed and evolved over that time but the truth is my job has always been the same: finding clients and serving them.

After nine years of doing this, I have a huge job change ahead of me.

We’ve been very blessed to grow over the last few years, and this year I’ve taken a leap of faith and begun hiring people. So far we’ve added three new team members. What I’m discovering is as we hire and grow, my day is now divided differently. Instead of spending all day dealing with clients, I now spend much of the day teaching and leading our team.

I’m imparting the vision of why we do what we do.

I’m equipping them to find new clients and care for them.

I’m making sure they are fulfilled in what they are doing.

I’m focused on company structure and marketing to make sure we can afford to care for our team.

The biggest thing I’m seeing is that I have to be much more intentional about my schedule. I need a lot more focus. The idea is to divide out my time and completely focus on whatever is in front of me.

If there is an hour blocked off for design work, I have to turn off my phone and e-mail to focus.

We have an hour every morning for calls with my team and an hour in the afternoon. During that time, they need my focus.

I have to start scheduling meetings only on certain days and at certain times.

This is a big change but for the sake of my health, the happiness of my team, and the future of the company, I have to become more intentional.

The transition from doing to leading is a tough one, but I’m looking forward to learning.

No one cares that you’re busy

“How are you doing today?”

“Busy, man, really busy.”

How many times have we had that exchange? What I’ve come to realize is that no one cares. Somehow we’ve come to equate “busy” with success. If I’m busy doing things, they are good things, and you should envy me.

The reason no one cares is that we’re all busy. Successful or not, we never stop. I can remember days when our business wasn’t what I would call a success. I was both busy and stressed out about the amount of things that had to be done.

Busy does not equal successful.

How much of our busyness comes from just not managing our time well? How much of it comes from not being able to say no? In reality, we should probably be ashamed of most of our busyness, not proud of it.

The busy answer also allows us to avoid deeper conversations. What do we usually say to “We’re really busy right now?” We answer, “Yeah, we are too,” and that’s about as far as the conversation progresses.

So what if our answers were honest? What if they started with “I’m having a great week,” or “It’s been a hard week.”? These answers invite more conversation. “Why has it been a great week?” “What happened, can I help?”

Let’s just assume everyone is busy and skip that step. Maybe we’ll have deeper relationships if people really know how we are doing.

And let’s stop being so proud of being busy.

Happy divorce day

So today sucked.

I was generally minding my own business and letting the universe spin as it normally does.

Then I got word that an old friend of mine has pretty much done everything he can to screw his life up. Specifically he and his wife are about to be divorced. This is a guy who I’ve counseled a few times and prayed for constantly. I’ve prayed that God would change hearts in their marriage and renew it. That didn’t happen and now, short of a miracle, four lives are being turned completely on end.

This really bothered me all day. It’s still bothering me. Then I queued up one of the sermons I’ve been behind on. What do they preach on? The complete depravity of man and the fact that as a general rule we’re idiots when it comes to marriage.

Thanks. That’s what I needed.

Then I call a client. The receptionist proceeds to tell me about her divorce ruining her day. I didn’t mind and I hope she felt better after venting, but man, it just wasn’t what I wanted to hear today.

I’ve got some more thoughts on things like this, but I’m too irritated right now to work it all out.

So I’ll leave the conversation to you.

What are you doing to divorce-proof your marriage?

From the top down

Today I had a great lunch with Tony.

He got me really pumped up for the next three weeks at Legacy. I think this will be one of those game changing series at Legacy. This series is designed to very clearly lay out the future of Legacy and push you to make a choice about your role in it.

Churches should provide a place for people to serve others. The problem is most churches forget to actually call people to serve others. This series will do exactly that.

I was also reminded about how we all need regular doses of vision and how those doses come from the top. I value what little time Tony and I get to spend together. It feeds and fuels me until our next opportunity to dream about what Legacy can be. We don’t get to do it too often since none of us work on staff full time, but it has so much value. It’s very easy to focus on our individual areas and ignore everything else going on.

This post pairs well with “The joys of bi-vocational ministry” and an order of chips and queso from Chili’s. 

The Rule of 30

So we have this problem. Colton hasn’t been doing his homework. And short of calling the teacher every day we have little way of knowing if he’s lying to us or not. He’s been hiding parts of his homework and just not doing it.

Side note: I did the same thing in school and fully expect a comment from my mom about sweet, sweet revenge.

Anyway, he’s been ignoring his homework for the most part. So I started to think about why he, and historically myself as well, does this. That’s when I came up with the “Rule of 30″ (which, by the way, I have now patented and you owe me a quarter every time you say it).

It goes a little something like this. As kids we think 30 minutes in front of us and no more. He’s thinking “I don’t want to do my homework now, I’ll do it later.” The problem is he keeps thinking this until there’s no more time left in the day. He’s concerned with his immediate entertainment, not the consequences for not doing his homework. Because those consequences don’t come in the next 30 minutes, they aren’t even considered.

As we get older, it still applies. Teenagers will think 30 hours ahead. They begin to plan out their days and what to wear. However, they still don’t see consequences for their actions if those repercussions are more than 30 hours away.

Once we enter our 20s and start to contribute to society, we start thinking 30 days ahead. We still live like we’re seven, though. “Sure I can afford this TV now,” we think, not considering that 30 days later we have to pay rent.

It continues on and on until finally, when we’re too old to do much about it, we begin to think 30 years in advance. We begin to think of our legacy and the things we can do for our children and grand children.

So why don’t we try thinking beyond the Rule of 30. Let’s break it. When we’re in our 20s, let’s start thinking and planning 30 years in advance. Let’s work on our legacy now.

This post pairs well with “Thinking globally” and a home cooked meal at Grandpa’s house.

The joys of bi-vocational ministry

Let me just go on record saying I’m not a fan of bi-vocational ministry. For those that don’t know, that’s where you work your tail off at a regular job and then do the same for the church.

The hardest part is that we don’t get the interaction that comes from being on staff full-time at a church. Full-time staff members spend eight hours a day together. There’s great value for the church as a whole when this happens. We’re able to do lean on each other, pray together and dream about what God wants the church to be. Without all that, it can become a disparate groups of people trying to move the church forward individually.

I think at Legacy we do a good job of connecting as a staff to avoid some of those problems. It’s still incredibly hard, though. I had my monthly breakfast this morning with Pastor Tony. It reminded me how much I crave time with my leadership. It keeps me focused on the vision and lets them know where I’m at. I think a lot of people fear meetings with “the boss.” I love them, though. It also makes me think I need to spend more time with those I lead.

I’m not sure where God has me in the future. I know I’m absolutely called to do business as Image Studios. It’s a huge ministry for me. On the other hand I also know I’m called to church-based ministry. I’m not sure where the balance comes in but either way I look forward to the day when our staff interactions happen more often.

Church isn’t really the place for honesty

I think I got in trouble for saying that one time during a sermon. But I meant it.

Church is one of those places where we are the least honest. We put on a show while there because we feel we have to live within certain standards and if we pretend long enough, that’s good enough. The funny thing is pretending puts us farther from where we should be.

I bring this up because I’ve long been of the opinion that church needs to consist of way more honest conversations. I recently wrote about church induced guilt. I meant what I said. I’ve received a very minor amount of flack for being a pastor and saying you don’t have to attend church every time the doors are open. I think I qualified my position in the post pretty well, though. It was one of my stabs at approaching church honestly, instead of the way I’ve seen it approached for most of my life.

The thing I’ve discovered is pastors expect too much of their people and their people expect too much of their pastors. It leads to everyone pretending to be something their not.

Try this. Next time someone at church asks how you are doing, be honest. Don’t say, “I’m doing great” while throwing a fake smile in their direction. Tell the truth. Tell them you’ve had a very rough week and desperately need prayer. Pastors, next time you’re talking to someone and they confess something they struggle with, admit it if you struggle with the same thing.

Of course, this involves admitting we’re all human and probably breaks all kinds of rules. But I’m up for it. Are you?

Sunday night mind dump

Every “pastor” blogger I know does a “Sunday night mind dump.” Because of that, I’m loath to do it too, but I’m so fried right now that I can’t think of anything else. So here you go.

Last week was very busy (hence the little blogging I did). This weekend was great, but I am dead tired. We had a good day yesterday doing a few things to relax and hanging out with friends. Church this morning was really great. Worship (and I’m not a big music guy) was amazing. Josh, Shana and the entire team did a great job.

We followed it up with a staff meeting tonight. It was our first one, and honestly an easy ride for me because we are still in the “figuring it all out” stage. However, I think God has laid a lot on Tony’s heart about the future of Legacy and he’s now pushing us to see it through. I can’t tell you how good it feels to part of a vibrant and energetic team that is reaching for what God has.

I’ll try to be back at my normal blogging pace this week. I’ve had a lot of things happen over the last week that are worth writing about.

Pastor Appreciation Month

Did you know October is Pastor Appreciation Month? I didn’t until yesterday when Tony called the staff on stage and presented us with some gift cards to some of our favorite restaurants.

We’ve been involved with Legacy for a couple of month’s now, but we’ve really only been here for about two weeks. We’re still discovering the in’s and out’s. I’m really enjoying working with a new staff.

I’m especially enjoying learning from Tony and Kandy. They have tremendous hearts for this church and for us as a staff. They’ve made us feel welcome and shown us hospitality we haven’t really earned. I appreciate that they are willing to invest time in us to help us grow as leaders. I appreciate that they have dedicated their lives to this calling. Most of all, I appreciate them putting up with us.

So what should I get Tony? I’m thinking something with an Apple logo on it.

For the money?

I’ve been designing ads for newspapers since I was fourteen years old. Being in the creative business is all I’ve ever done. There’s something about the publishing business that is hard to explain. It’s high stress and always deadline driven. Until I started my own business it has never paid very well either. And yet I always come back to it. I have run away from publishing several times. At the time I was glad to be away from all the stress of it.

“Just when I thought I was out, the pulled me back in.”

I’ve always ended up back in the publishing world. It’s never had anything to do with money. It’s always been some deep-seeded love I have for it. Even during the hard times.

Perry Noble has a post today that reminded me of this. It’s “Seven Questions a Staff Member Must Ask About Themselves.”

Question number two is “Is this my passion or my paycheck?”

I’ve heard from pastors (and about them) “I would leave the ministry but what else would I do?” This has never really sat well with me. Ministry is a calling from God. In fact it’s a calling that, if accepted, causes you to be held to a higher standard by God. Is that really something you want to do “just because you don’t have another way to support the family.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone in ministry has bad days. During times in the past I’ve really wanted to run away from what God’s called me to. In the end I came back. Kept working. Kept pushing through. A calling from God is something you would do whether you get paid or not (even though the Bible clearly states in Timothy people in leadership deserve pay).

I’ve wanted to leave ministry, but like publishing I always get sucked back into it. It’s because there’s something inside me that has to do it. I couldn’t resist very long even if I tried.

So ask yourself today. If you are a pastor, which is honestly one of the hardest things you can ever do, are you doing it because you feel God’s call on your life or is it because you can’t think of another way to support your family? If you’re in it for the money, ask yourself honestly how much good are you doing the people you lead?

Follow the leader

The Swerve Blog from Lifechurch.tv has a great post about leaders staying close to their passion (or vision). If the leader of a small group drifts from the vision God has given him, the group will stray as well and begin to atrophy. The same thing can happen with entire churches. This is why God didn’t set up a church to be led by committee. He gives the vision to the pastor who gives it to us.

Fit for ministry

Tadd is running a “Biggest Loser” competition for the men in his launch team.

This brings up something we don’t really like to talk about in the ministry. Staying in shape. I sound like a lot of guys on their staff. Certainly not grossly overweight, but I could definitely stand to slim down a little.

I’d like to say I’d lose weight for the chance to win an iPod video. However, the justification I gave myself for buying an iPod shuffle was that I would use it to work out. I use the iPod a lot. For working out? Not so much.

Considering ministry involves lots of hours, little sleep and massive amounts of stress, how do you cope with your health?

Guard your heart

Steven Furtick has a great post about guarding your heart.

The quote that got me was: “Be careful who you share your dreams with. Their negativity can contaminate the possibility before it ever has a chance to become a reality.”

This is incredibly important. God’s call on your life can often seem (even to you) like a crazy thing. God has called me to do some things in the ministry that most people around me would think are crazy. As a result, they will try to discourage me before I ever have a chance to work through it with God. When God gives you a vision for your life, it is your vision. Guard it fiercley. Because it is your vision and not the vision of other people, they won’t all understand it and may try to stand in the way. They may even be convinced they are doing you a favor.

This is also why it’s so important to stay close to God every day. As Perry put it so well today, “There is a fine line between faith and stupidity.”

Make sure you’re close to God so you know the crazy vision he’s given you is, in fact, from him and not that burrito you ate last night.

Perry via Tony

The Churchplanters.com conference is going on right now. I really wish I could have made it. Not only is it affordable, it’s supposed to be really great.

Tony Morgan provides a great breakdown of Perry Noble’s sessions here and here.

Some of the highlights:

1. God does not give visions to committees. God never gave a vision to a committee in the Bible.

2. Some people will ask, “When are we going to go deeper.” You can go deeper right now. Open your Bible. There’s some deep stuff in there. Read it.

3. Sometimes you just need to let people leave your church. The space shuttle, as an example, has to lose some of its parts in order to make it into orbit.

4. “The worst thing that can happen to us is if we start to believe we’re good.”

5. “Church planting is not safe. It’s not easy. God always calls us to things that are unsafe. If you want to be safe, get out of ministry.”

6. “If your vision is to be like someone else, that’s not a vision. That’s an admonition.”

Good stuff. Maybe I’ll make it out there next year.