Monday, January 31, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?-part 5

Okay Jim, that’s all well and good but in all my seeking God what do I do when God says stay? How do I stay put? Those are good questions, I’m glad you asked them.
Have a current vision. The best vision is a fresh vision.  Ask the Lord daily to renew and refresh his plan and vision for your life. It’s also important to keep yourself refreshed.
How? Go to church, read your Bible, pray, enjoy your family, take time off, and make time for hobbies and other stress relievers. Another way to stay put is to keep your heart and life pure. Flee from ungodliness and evil thinking and doing. Guard your attitude. Sure I’ve been hurt we all have, but I will not be a victim. I choose to be a victor that’s why I choose to take every thought captive and line it up with the truth of God’s Word.
One of the things that has helped me stay put is by never letting what I do become old hat. Choose to keep changing and trying  new things. You’ve heard me say this before “same actions bring same results.”  Another thing that keeps me appreciating where I am is networking. Experience is the best teacher but it doesn’t have to be your experiences that you learn from. Don’t ride a dead horse, if it isn’t working stop doing it. Don’t be sucked in by religious tradition it is totally up to you to stay tuned in and up to date in every part of your ministry. Be teachable.  Teachable people have longevity.
Stay hooked up with your Pastor and all the leaders above you. Be a team player.
Be loyal.  If you need help, ask for it. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m in over my head”
A good leader knows their abilities and weaknesses. It’s up to you staff for your weak spots as well as work to improve them. Keep a servant’s heart and be on the lookout for pride.  If you know you are to stay, get leaving out of your mind.

Obedience brings blessing! Over the years I’ve seen this principle work over and over again. If God tells you to go, be obedient and God will bless you, if He tells you to stay be obedient and He will bless you. When you are obedient you can expect the blessings of God. Have faith. Expect victory. Expect promotion. And never forget obedience has rewards! 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?-part 4

When you begin to sense a change might be taking place. Here are seven steps to make sure you are making the right choices.
1. Listen to the right voice. Sometimes I hear God other times it’s gas (pizza late at night is the wrong voice.) You are the Lord’s, He is your shepherd. You hear His voice and know His voice. The voice of a stranger you will not hear! Ask God to remove blinders or hindrances to hearing His voice.
2. Remain faithful to the vision of the house. I believe it’s what you’re doing now, not what you’ve done in the past that matters. Stay faithful in the small things always!
 Allow your gifts to make room for you. If they don’t want or need your gifts at your present location, your gifts are needed somewhere else. Pray and talk to God about what you sense, not others.
3. Don’t go looking for greener pastures. Wait on release. If we truly work for God he will show us our next assignment. Don’t try to help Him out.
4. Don’t get into fear. If your Heavenly Father can take care of birds and flowers, He knows how to take care of His children. Stay in faith not in fear.
5. Remember no matter what God is in control; he has a place for you and knows where you live and how to get in touch with you. It is His job to keep His promises to you and He will!
6. If it is time to go never look back. Keep looking forward. Your best days in God are always ahead when you are making choices according to the Word!
7.   God operates by the law of mutual benefit. He will take care of you and the ministry you left. It’s not your responsibility to worry about the kids or workers you leave behind. If this is good for you it’s also good for the church and vice versa! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?-part 3

5.   Always leave in a way that you can come back for a visit or attend church there no matter what has transpired. Walk in integrity!  Point loyalties to the leadership not to yourself. You get to move on they have to stay. When you do come back. Come back right! (We’ll discuss this more later.)
6. Leave the children’s ministry in better shape than you found it. I believe a mark of true success is you’ve left a successor. Leadership might not want them but you should be training and raising up others for them to choose from. You’re only as effective as your team.
7. When you leave, leave! Don’t call workers. If you have special friendships, be a friend but don’t discuss church stuff. A rule I have followed since I made my first ministry change in 1983 is don’t go back and visit unless you are invited by the Pastor or have his permission to attend. (It’s been a good one, too!) Don’t allow workers or staff to call you and talk about the church. If people are saying bad things about you after you leave, (and they will) let God defend you. Here’s a great truth to live by “You cannot control what others do, but you can control your attitude and reactions to their choices. Make good ones!”
...still more to come

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?-part 2

Now that we’ve talked about why let’s take a look at how to make a change. How you leave is as critical as why. Here are seven musts for a smooth exit.
1.   Go on time. Don’t be early or late they both cause problems.  Wait until you have been released. Once you know that  it’s time to go and have peace then go. I have only been late in leaving one time and if I could do it over I would have left earlier. On time is the best time!
2.   Go quickly. This means different things to different people. Ask your leader how much time they would like you to allow. ( i.e.: month, two weeks, or immediately) I think the faster the better! If God has released you, it’s over so leave.
3.   Go with your mouth shut. This is the hardest one. Don’t contact church people, let the Pastor tell others how he wants it told. Don’t fellowship with people you have never had fellowship with before you resigned. There are always those who want “the dirt” beware of people wanting to be your friend that have never wanted to be your friend before.
4.   Be Positive. If you can’t be positive because there is nothing positive go back to number 3 and go with your mouth shut. I have left four churches each move has been different. Sure there were some negative things that happen along the way but I choose to dwell on the positive.
more to come...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I have met a lot of children’s pastors in my life. Anyone who knows me knows I like to network. Being a professional conference attendee, most of the children’s ministers I meet fall into one of three categories those who have found where God wants them to be, those who are not sure where they are suppose to be and those who want to leave where they are because they know that they are not presently where they are suppose to be. At different times in my ministry over the last thirty-five years I have been in all three categories.

My quest to find God’s plan for my life started in 1973. There I was minding my own business, selling drugs to my High School when one of my best friends told me eight words that rocked my world. Those same eight words still rock my world today. What are they? You know them, “ God has a wonderful plan for your life!” Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God’s plan for my life is so much better than the plans I came up with own my own. These last thirty-five years of serving Christ has been an amazing journey. I am so glad the Lord called me to minister to children and their families. It has been wild to see God place me in five wonderful churches under five wonderful pastors. There has been more deposited in me through the leaders, and the people God has brought into my life than I have ever given.

In watching people in children’s ministry in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s  and now in the 10’s I’ve come to realize finding a position in children’s ministry is not hard to do but
finding the right position is a lot harder. I am glad I went to every church that I’ve been on staff at. I’ve loved everyday I worked and served at each of them but I’ve also loved everyday that I haven’t worked at each of them too.  God used the four wonderful churches that were all part of his plan for me to prepare me for His plan for me, today!

        Over the years, I think I’ve heard every reason under the sun why people have decided to make a change. Some are negative and some are positive. Things like lack of vision from senior leadership, frustration or burnout on the part of the Children’s Pastor, moral and ethical failure, not willing to change (stubbornness), a loss of trust or confidence in leadership or in you, the church outgrows you or you outgrow the position or church, constant conflict as well as you’ve completed the task and it’s just time to go.  Some times the reason(s) to seek a change can me neutral or mutual, things like a change of philosophy or a change of pastor or you’ve been given a new assignment or promotion or you’ve been faithful in that which is another man’s and God gives you your own ministry. With all that stated, the only time to go is when God says to and gives you a release for your next adventure.  

More to come...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 12

#12- Don’t do the same action and get the same results. We've heard it a million times "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always have what you've always had!" But even though we know this quote by heart we still do the same old things and somehow expect different results from our actions.
Here 3 things I like to do
1.Try different things (regularly) Don't be afraid to try something new! 
2. Mix it up (Doing things in a different order makes them seem new)
3. Look for ways to put a new wrapper or twist on an old idea.
A great way to make sure you put these 3 things into practice is to add an accountability partner or coach to your life. (Have them sit in and critique you or have them ask you about what you are doing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 11

#11- Teach, model, qualify, and duplicate
This is the Excellence model that Jethro (Mr. Excellence) taught Moses in Exodus 18:20-24
Here's 5 things these verses teach us!
1 Exodus 18:20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the
way to live and the duties they are to perform. Having a little talk is not enough you must teach and show. People need a model to follow. They also need policies and procedures. Every person you lead need to know What you want them to do and how you want them to do it!

2. Exodus 18:21 But select capable men from all the people --men who fear
God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain --and appoint them as officials
over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. One translations says faithful and able who you delegate to matters. Have a way to qualify your volunteers and also understand their gifts and abilities.

3. Exodus 18:22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but
have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide
themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with
you. Identify the things you are doing others can do and allow them to help. You need to do the things only you can do. The key to remember is "you are still involved!"

4. Exodus 18:23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to
stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." When you obey the Lord not only is this good for you but it's also the best for the people!

5. Exodus 18:24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he
said Obedience bring blessing and success. My favorite part of this story is Moses learned and put what he had learned into action and we never heard from Jethro again!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 10

#10- Catch people doing things right. It's so easy to make a list of the things people do wrong but what would happen as you lead others if you were always pointing out their good characteristics.
Thank you notes are huge. They are real difference makers. Look for every opportunity to lead let people know the things they are doing right! Lead by encouragement. People who lead by fear are bullies.
Brag on people pwoplw every chance you get and always remember to use your M.B.W.A. degree. People don't do what you expect they do what you inspect.! The more you seek to be a blessing the more you will truly be one to the pthers you lead!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 9

#9- Watch and listen to yourself teach as well as hold meetings
We talk about this in my last post but whenever you can video yourself in different settings and learn what you can.  Listen to yourself on CD. I record every meeting and I listen and try to see where I mussed it, how I can improve and see what worked and try to duplicate that again. Have someone take pictures of you in action. Seeing yourself the way others see you is always ete opening.  Listen to your spouse. God gave them to be a partner with you. Listen to their advice and do it! Swap DVD’s with another CP and help each other improve! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 8

#8- Make an agenda and plan for all meetings
A secret to getting volunteers to come to our meetings and staff not dreading them is to keep the meeting relevant. If someone doesn't need to hear the information that you are sharing then, don’t invite them to the meeting.  If your information can be communicated in another form other than a meeting, use it. I think sometimes we have a meeting to see what meetings we need to have. Here's a few of my favorite meeting rules:
1.  Select an ending time and end on time!
2. Use a timer. (Another reason to buy an iphone!)
3. Put each item you have to share in order of importance so if you run out of time it's the stuff of least importance.
4. Stay on task (It’s your meeting act like it!)
5. Stand up to talk. It will make a huge difference plus you burn more calories when you stand up!
6. Video your meeting anytime you can and watch yourself. (It will make you a better communicator, plus you can watch others reation to your meeting.
7. Get feed back from someone you can really trust how they think the meeting went. Learn from them and always look for ways to improve yourself!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 7

#7- Start advertising early
People don’t come to church every week. In fact I think every other week is the new each week so if you really want everyone to hear it you better start 8 weeks out. Give your event away and then let it build each week until it's a really big deal! If you are serious about getting the word out to as many many as possible use more than one method. (Don’t put all your eggs in one basket) Use announcements, newsletters, mail out postcards and reminders use emails, use evites, use a phone call or a phone tree, websites and even the church bulletin!

Friday, January 14, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 6

#6- Look your best. I guess you know by now I live in girl world. Yes living with three women is like living with the fashion police. I love it when i'm ready to leave the house and head to the church and one of the Wideman girls will say... "You aren't going to wear that are you?" No sweetheart I just put this own to see if you'd catch me before I left the house.
A great question to ask yourself is "What’s your decade?" If you have the same hairstyle you had in High School you need a make over unless you just graduated. Get some young people on board to see if you are stuck in a past decade.
Represent your pastor wel, that's really what it's all about when it comes to your personal style! Find people your age in magazines. For me I like Men's Health there are plenty of stylish people my age in both casual and dress clothes that I can learn from. One of my goals is to not dress like I'm going through a mid-life crisis. A good rule to follow is when in doubt on how to dress, dress up. If you find yourself needing a fashion tuneup have a make over by some one trendy. You might even know a stylist in your church. I know 2 or 3. Another good thing to do is do your homework find a good TLC show on TV like "What Not To Wear" or "10 Years Younger" Study to show yourself approved. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 5

#5- Show up a minimum of 30 minutes before everyone and always have everything done and set up before the first leader gets there. This might not sound like a leadership principle but it is. If you want others to show up early don't just set the example knock it out of park.  Being late is not the sign of a leader. I tell those I lead if you can’t be on time be
early. The best way to get others to come early is for you to get there earlier. Have it all set up ahead of time so you can speak to people as they come in. Sooner or later someone's going to ask "when do you get here?" or better yet they start showing up earlier to give you a hand. Appearances matter they really do. What does your facilities and the shape they are in when people show up at your church say about your vision?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 4

#4- Communicate well
Return calls quickly or have someone do it for you. Check emails regularly (Set a time to check and return emails) Never do business in the hall (Follow up all conversations with an email or
memo) Take advantage of websites, brochures and e-newsletters (Constant Contact has been a wonderful tool because you can tell who opened it.) Carry business cards and use them. There is a reason cards are still around.
Make policies and procedures that are simple, clear and easy to follow. I try to answer the
questions “What do you want me to do? How do you want me to do it? for all I lead.
Here's a little side note- “things naturally get complex, you have to intentionally work on
staying simple!” and last but not least be accessible, reachable, and touchable. This one key has worked for me time and time again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 3

#3-Take steps to learn how to get more done
If you have not read my book "Beat The Clock" you should. In fact you should buy one for every person on your leadership team. Contact us at JWM for wholesale info. Here's 5 of the secrets I practice daily...
1. Buy the right tools. I just bought a ZAGG/mate keyboard for my ipad it's amazing. There are several tools I use including my iphone, ipad, and laptop.
2. Plan events that you need to do and also plan the steps for those events. I make appointments for everything that important by my priorities.
3. Break it down in to-dos Speaking of priorities, do you know yours? Are they up-to-date? Remember if the Lord leads us in steps we have to learn to think in steps in all we do.
4. Evaluate- look at how you spend your time. Most people spend more time planning how they want to spend their time than evaluating how you really spent it. It's up to you to identify time wasters. Once you identify them it's then up to you to do something about it.
5. Delegate (Use the time of others) At the end of the day you only have 24 hours to work with so after you've done these 4 other steps teach them to others and use some of their time as well!

Monday, January 10, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!-part 2

#2- Set the example of what you want others to do. If you have ever heard me speak or read my stuff youve heard me say that everyone who works for me is told I've got some good news and bad news for you. The good news is I'll never ask you to do something I wouldn't do and the bad news is I'm willing to do anything that needed! My Mom has told me my whole life "What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!" Which is Alabama for "set the example of what you want others to do!" This past week Matt McKee told me on twitter I work too much! Reggie Jointer has told me that for years. I know I work a lit and guess what that is the secret to why I accomplish a lot. This new year I am cutting back on my coaching and only offering 1 infuse group per year from September to February. (Better enrole now if you want to be a part of this in 2011.) But don't think for one reason i am going to be sitting on my back pourch sipping ice tea. I'm going to be leading a growing the next generation ministries at my church plus implementing a new plan to reach high school students. As I've been searching for a youth pastor I saw that what I was wanting was not there and didn't think differently so I realized I needed to build it and then turn it over to someone rather than expect them to do it with my help from a far.

I believe this with all my heart..."There may be people with more talent or ability but no one has to out work you. But what to you do? Here's my formula dream, plan, build structure, create policy then...teach, model, evaluate and keep repeating the process.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

12 things anyone can do to set themselves apart and lead others better!

#1-Be someone worth following
You've heard me say this before but positional leadership is the lowest form of leadership. So many times we try to lead by our function rather than our practice and example.
Jesus practiced what He preached He said "Be holy for I am holy. We also see that He knew the Word and did it. Those are still smart things to practice.
I also think we should love the Lord, love the kids, love your workers, love your family, and love your pastor the way you want others to do. Practice and model how to flow with authority. A great question I like to ask my self on a regular basis is..."Has there ever been a time in my life when I was more in love with Jesus than I do right now? I'm the only one that can fix that. Another good question to ask is..."How’s your prayer life?"