Thursday, January 02, 2014

A blog post from a current infuser...

Here's what one of my current Infusers Susan Wanderer posted on her blog. This is what Infuse is all about! (And yes there is still room in both groups for 2014)

Imagine you are called out... called out on your junk... the junk you don't do well at all. Your weakness, your frailty, the places you feel most bare and vulnerable.
You know, the areas you love to talk about and brag on... the highlight of your life. Your great-play reel. (Pardon the sarcasm.)

I was called out on my junk... By the Patriarch in my field of employment.
I've read his books, seen him speak at conferences and respected the inspiring way He leads. It's obvious why this was truly the best-day-of-my-life. I was even wondering why I didn't buy a round of tequila for everyone (except for the fact that I don't drink tequila)... i'll choose a round of Georgetown Cupcakes instead! (which is actually part of the problem in itself)

Here is the story
This year, I participated in a 6 month coaching and mentor experience called Infuse. As a part of Infuse, we attend 2 retreats.

Our first retreat was made up of 26 Kids Ministers from all over the country. Jim Wideman was our incredibly kind & gracious host. For two solid days we were allowed to soak up the wisdom of this Kids-Ministry-Legend and his 40 years of ministry experience. We asked question after question after question to our mentor, who we all deeply admire so much. He never tired of the machine-gun style questioning. Jim always answered in his southern-drawl with honesty, deep sincerity... and a dash of wit & humor. Then the final question came before lunch... One of the men asked "What can we do to be better leaders?"
I grabbed my pen, in anticipation for what I was about to hear... I was sure he was going to explain the greatest leadership secret of ALL TIME. Something that would propel my leadership to heights unknown!
Here is how Jim responded:
You will be a better leader and people will respond to you better if you:
1. follow through
2. drop the weightWait, what?! Follow-Thru & Drop-Weight.
Seriously? This is the answer?
Two solutions... And they both stung...
1. Follow Thru... as in, I Don't.
Really, I am truly awful at this. My personality is bent towards ideation and creativity. I am a dreamer. Much to my delight and dismay, I spend much of the 24 hours I am given each day, dreaming of new ideas: for work, for my family, for any situation I see.... I dream.While it is exciting to be an ideator... it is also frustrating.
I absolutely, 100%, don't see details (if you say that with the voice of the sixth-sense guy, it sounds more daunting: I don't see details). It's maddening.
Thus, I have a horrible, bad habit of: Follow-Thru-Falling-Thru-The-Cracks.
It's one of my least favorite qualities about myself... And it was just pointed out. Joy.
2. Drop the Weight
At first I didn't think I heard Jim correctly... so I asked the guy next to me to repeat it... Which was awkward in itself... Simply because he was....
...the SKINNIEST-MAN-EVER. So I, the largest-woman-in-the-room ask the skinniest-man-ever to repeat what Jim just said. With the amount of non-eye-contact my fellow kids minister was giving me I then realized I had heard correctly.

I think Jim felt the need to rescue the skinny boy answering the fat girl's question so he repeated: DROP THE L-B-S. It was as if I entered a movie... it sounded like he said it in a really low tone and in s-l-o-w-m-o-t-i-o-n. I heard it very well this time.

And my heart sank. To a deep pit. The main thing I have struggled with since childhood had been said. The. Main. Thing.
I met up with a dear Nashville-friend of mine before my flight out the next morning. My eyes were burning with tears as I re-told the follow-thru & weight story of my weekend.
Tackling those two areas is like trying to undo 40 years of habits, bad choices & mind sets. It's not: Good morning! Lets drop some weight today! (Although, I do say that EVER SINGLE DAY to myself).

After the last several months of reflection, prayer, Bible Study & talking with confidants... I realize I have GOT to formulate a plan. I have GOT to live in obedience & freedom.
I have two choices:
1. Change. Put a plan in place. Allow God to be strong in my weakness. Do the hard work. Watch God move in Supernatural ways.
2. Stay the same. And in one year... I could have the grand opportunity to be more unorganized with follow through & even heavier than I am now.
So, 2014 MUST look differently.
I am putting a plan together... Praying I will actually follow-thru...
I'm a BIG talker... It's time to be a responder.

Thank you, Jim Wideman. Even when the truth hurts, you say it. Your heart is genuine. I am grateful for Infuse & for your ministry... for your honesty, passion for people & dedication to the Kingdom. The weekend spent at Infuse was a turning point for me. 2014 is going to be challenging... So Thankful God is strong.

I am so proud of Susan! It is the greatest honor of my life to do infuse. The next group Infuse 8 starts March 2014 the next one Infuse 9 starts September 2014. I'd love to have you be a part of infuse if you are serious about seeing real change in you!
What are you waiting for? Let 2014 be a year of no excuses!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

LOOKING AHEAD AND POINTING THE WAY- 12 ways to have a great New Year!

One of the most intriguing professions in the world to me is forecasting the weather. Sometimes they miss it but most of the time they get it right. Mr. Webster defines forecasting as “to predict a future condition or occurrence; to calculate In advance by forethought and foresight in planning. These are not just descriptions and duties of a meteorologist. It’s also the responsibility of a Children’s Ministry leader.  Let’s take a look at Moses in Hebrews 11:24-26 it says “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Let’s also examine Paul, in Philippians 3:13-14 it says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Now Let’s look at you…”Are you accurately predicting future conditions and occurrences by advance planning and careful calculations? What's your forecast for 2014?

Are you focused on looking ahead? Moses did. So did Paul. If you are going to lead with success for a long period of time you have to master this! A leader must know where he’s heading, where he is now and how to get from where he is to where he’s going. This cannot happen without forethought, foresight and advance planning. Planning must always go before action. It must be intentional, consistent, calculated behavior that becomes a way of life for you. Last minute planners are always surprised. They are surprised with where they are, surprised with where they are going and don’t really understand what they did to get there. You can’t just work on the ministry you have without focusing on looking ahead at where you want to be in every part of your ministry.

We're going to look at twelve steps I have used to become a leader who can look ahead and point the way God wants you to go to others.

1. Know where you are headed. All a vision is is to end up where God wants you. This sounds pretty basic but why don’t you ask Him? Many times we spend more time in a conference or seminar than on our knees. You’ll never know God’s plan without asking Him. Dare to dream in Him. If people where no problem where would you put them, how would you use them. Start with the end in mind and plan backwards. Once you get a picture of what God wants be specific read Habakkuk 2:2. Make it simple to follow so you can give it away to others. A God inspired vision was meant to give away. A lot of people have asked me how did you lead one of the largest children’s ministries in the country. That’s simple I asked God where He wanted the ministry to go and did what He told me. I’d love to take credit but I can’t I was just following Jesus’ plan for our kids, our team and our families.

2. Know where you are. Be honest. Things are never as bad as you think they are and things are also not as wonderful as you think they are. They are always somewhere in between. You have to learn to evaluate everything especially the needs that need to be met. What are the needs of the kids God has given you?  What are the needs of workers? What do they need to know to raise their abilities? Evaluate your budget or count the cost. Evaluate your policies and systems. I don’t work on the church I have I work on the one I want to have.  Evaluate your thinking. All a stronghold is- is believing wrong information. Your thinking can make you or break you. Evaluate what is working and what isn’t. I work on my things to do list and my things “not to-do” list all the time.

3. Know where you’ve been.  Be a student of the history of your church especially the history of the children’s ministry. Know what they have defined as a win. Study the numbers. Attendance trends, and percentages. Know the thinking of past and present workers as well as what workers are needed. Look at the ratios in each class at each service. Have they ever been better? Why? I even study the budget. Study the accomplishments of past and present leaders and the challenges they have faced.

4. Know what others are doing. Learn to network with others. A smart leader studies the success and failures of others. Listen and read their materials, books and blogs. Study from a far. Learn up close by attending a conference. Don’t just attend sessions ask questions constantly throughout the entire event. Visit the facilities of others. Develop a relationship with other kidmin leaders on whatever level is available including e-mail, phone appointments, lunch, and/or hang out with them during a weekend or a single service. Tweet, text, Facebook and instagram. With those you want to learn from. Don’t ever think you know it all. Have a mentor, constantly read, and talk shop with someone you respect.  Always want to learn. Stay current with what others are thinking and doing now, not just what they used to do.
5. Get God’s Plan for your ministry. How does He want you to get to where you desire to be? Pray, get in the Word, and be led by the Spirit. Once you’ve heard how now brainstorm with the wise. Planning must always go before action but nor your plan get God’s plan. I have been blessed over the years with several awards in Kidmin; I wish I could take credit. I was just doing what I was told to do by God. If you ask he’ll answer and tell you exactly what He wants you to do.

6. Develop the plan by breaking it down in steps. The first step is the most important. What has to be done so the next step can be done is my favorite way to break it down. It’s important that you don’t try to do too much too quick. When possible always get others involved. You need the wisdom and input that comes from functioning as a team. You also want others to start taking ownership in the plan. It’s a win for you and the team.

7. Communicate and execute the plan. Not just now but also down the road and all along the way. Start with the level of leadership around you (your staff and/or key volunteers.) Next teach the plan in detail to the next level of leadership. Break it down with what each team member needs to know to walk out the plan as well as how to raise their abilities. You and this level must communicate the plan to all the other workers. How? Use every method available to you. Start with meetings for both informational and training. Add email blasts, newsletters and blogs. Communication doesn’t happen by accident it takes work.

8. Evaluate-Use your M.B.W.A. degree Study the numbers not just from this week but last week, last month compare to this month. Look at the same day from past years Are you on a pace to hit what you are aiming for? What are you looking for? I try to evaluate current trends, both downward and upward. What warning signs are you seeing where you can correct problems before they happen? Is your plan working? Do people understand what they should be doing? Learn to catch people doing things right. Keep an eye on your structure and your policies make sure your structure is a growth structure and not a maintenance structure. Policies can strangle or enhance growth.

9. Teach and make corrections- Teaching brings definition. Delegation without definition brings about a weird spirit. Correct in love. Teach on what you have learned through evaluation. This is something you must develop consistency in and never let up until you arrive at where you are going.

10. Set the pace and be the leader. My favorite definition of a leader is one who leads. Be willing to model what you want others to do. Do what you’ve never done. Aim at excellence, desire to be cutting edge whatever it costs you.

11. Keep momentum and energy moving forward. Look down the road and forecast what is ahead Think forward not just in the now. (My 2015 will be totally planed by June) Be a cheerleader of your team and your co-workers. Make things happen, instigate change!

12. Out work everyone- Work smart, come early,  stay late.  Accomplish more. Work hard “There may be others with more talent, or abilities but no one has to out work you

Once you hit what you were aiming at, look ahead and repeat the process until it's time to look ahead at the next new year…