Two of the best disciplines we can adopt are detachment and reflection in order to gain perspective and make plans going forward.
Yesterday the church cabinet staff had our regular meeting. Our cabinet is comprised of pastors and ministry leaders representing about two dozen ministry areas of the church. We were asked a reflective question that can help shape the future of our ministries. I think this question is applicable life, family and business as well as ministry.
Here’s the question:
What have you learned in the past 12 months?
My process for answering the question…
So much has changed in the last year. I invested more time reflecting and praying than planning. Some would argue that focusing on the future and moving ahead are more important than reflection. I am a contrarian and argue that detaching in order to assess events, changes in the ministry environment and taking an honest look at the good and bad are keys to planning. I’d say that the more complex the issues and events of the past, the more important reflection becomes.
I intentionally employ a slowed-down version of the OODA Loop.
The OODA Loop is an acronym that stands for:
Observe Orient Decide Act
The OODA Loop concept was put forth by the great military strategist Colonel John Richard Boyd, United States Air Force. Simply put, it is the decision-making that occurs in a recurring cycle of observe – orient – decide – act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage.
To put it another way, “(The OODA Loop) explains how individuals and organizations can win in uncertain and chaotic environments.” – Tyler Pearson
You and I run through the OODA loop thousands of times per day. Next time you are driving somewhere, you’ll stop at a red traffic light (hopefully). Your act of stopping at that light was acheived by the process of the OODA Loop. You observed an intersection ahead and saw a red light. You oriented yourself in proximity to the intersection and the vehicles around you. You decided that you were going to stop at the red light (smart move). Finally, you took action and applied the brakes and stopped your car at the intersection. You just experienced the OODA Loop. When the traffic light turns green, your loop begins all over again. Check out the video below this post to learn more…
Observe Slowly: In my reflection, I take time to observe what has happened and how all that has happened is effecting current conditions and how past decisions (good and bad) have shaped current conditions. This must be an honest assessment of self and my decision-making. Honest feedback must be gathered from trusted partners. This is where the organizational hierarchy is allowed to be flattened where all team members are on the same level with the leaders and everyone has a seat at the table to provide input.
Orient Carefully: I take in information I have observed and start to carefully orient myself and get my bearings. I’ve had some experience and training in land navigation (Land Nav). “Land navigation is the discipline of following a route through unfamiliar terrain on foot or by vehicle, using maps with reference to terrain, a compass, and other navigational tools” (Wiki). Honestly, I am terrible at it. However, I understand the most important exercise in Land Nav is ascertaining my current position on a map. If I don’t know where I am on a map, there is no way I’m going to reach my destination. The same goes for orientating myself in the current moment in time in order to decide or plan for the future.
I learned two major lessons in the last 12 months in ministry. It struck my how these lessons apply to life, family and business.
1. BE FLEXIBLE: There is a great line from Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) from the film “Heartbreak Ridge” where Highway is addressing his platoon of misfit Marines. He said that in facing adversity on the battlefield a good Marine will, “improvise, adapt and overcome.” In other words, we must be flexible. In the last year of ministry, I had to learn to be flexible due to changing conditions and challenging situations in ministry. Our 2019 pre-COVID plans were often set aside, particularly in regard to events. Therefore, we had to improvise and adapt ministry operations in order to overcome obstacles and accomplish our mission. COVID never changed our mission but our means of achieving our mission changed dramatically.
2. BE DEPENDENT ON GOD: Another lesson I learned was not to hang on to anything too tightly. Due to challenging circumstances and changing conditions, I learned a deeper dependence on God. He reminded me that He is in ultimate control and He would see to it that His purposes would reach completion. Sometimes God puts us in a place of desperation where we come to realize that He is the only one who can make things happen. And sometimes God accomplishes this in surprising ways. Therefore, I learned to be open-handed with my plans and projects knowing that God could step in at any moment and change things. There is a kind of freedom in that experience.
What does all this mean for you?
I believe that if you take time to detach, reflect and observe how things have unfolded and decisions you made (good and bad) in the last 12 months, you can orient yourself. Then, you can make plans and decide how to best move forward. Finally, you can act (completing the OODA Loop).
Remember, being flexible is key to success in an ever-changing environment in ministry, business and in the home. At the end of the day, remember that God is in charge. Your responsibility is to pray, plan and walk in obedience to His Word and purposes. Leave the results to Him. His plans and ways are higher than yours. Be open-handed with your plans and projects knowing that God owns it all and loves you. He will surprise you beyond your understanding.
*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.
In 2009, Kathryn and I had the privilege to spend a week with Dave Ramsey and his team in Cancun Mexico.
We joined about a couple dozen business leaders and their spouses. All of us were striving to grow and/or improve our organizations by developing our personal leadership. Today this program is called “EntreLeadership” (Master Series) and thousands attend every year. Dave’s book by the same name has sold millions of copies and the podcast has gained a massive following (shout out to my pal Dan Tardy).
It is cool to look back and see that we got to participate in a small but powerful begining. Today EntreLeadership has grown as a brand in its own right and continues to have an impact on businesses, nonprofits and churches.
It’s been over 10 years since we were in Cancun with Dave and team. I think it’s time to revisit lessons learned, how I applied them and test their relevance today.
Unity is always on the forefront of good leadership.
Let’s talk about what Dave Ramsey refers to as the “Five Enemies of Unity”. Every organization has a culture. The culture can be healthy and life-giving or toxic and deadly. A good leader will strive to create and cultivate the former and defend against the latter.
Anyone who has a lawn or a garden knows that it requires watering, weeding and maintenance. Left unattended, a beautiful lawn or garden will become overgrown with weeds and overrun with pests in no time. The same goes for the culture in an organization; be it a company, church, nonprofit or your family. A leader must be vigilant in building and maintaining unity. A leader must wake up and fight the enemies of unity like a gardener fights weeds and pests – all the while cultivating unity. It’s a big job! I’d argue that its the most important job of the leader.
Unity is powerful. Unity is biblical.
Christian unity is good, beautiful and true as it demonstrates the fullness of the body working together.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” – Ephesians 4:1-6
A football team does not win the Super Bowl by accident. Individuals may stand out, but ultimately unity is behind the victory.
You may know there are some things you can do to create unity. There are thousands of ‘team building’ programs that can help establish unity. But, what are you doing to protect your organization’s unity?
So, I decided to share my goal setting system. You may not be a goal-setter. On the other hand, you could be goal guru. Wherever you find yourself, I hope you find value here.
First, I have not always been a goal-setter. I was aimless for many years until someone (Dave Ramsey) taught me how to set goals. More importantly, I was taught ‘why’ I needed to set goals.
Second, I am not claiming that my process is the only way to set goals. Nor is it completely original. I am drawing from great leaders from whom I’ve learned over the years.
Thirdly, I’m not going to get into the ‘why’ of goal setting here. This article is for the individual who knows ‘why’ goal setting is important but needs a fresh look or wants to go a little deeper. I ask the men I mentor and leaders I work with to set goals using this method (or a variation). If we are setting goals using similar methods – we are speaking the same language.
Be YOUR OWN (don’t let someone else set your personal goals)
Have a TIME LIMIT
Be in WRITING (keep where you can see them every day)
Example: “I want to complete the XYZ half-marathon (13.1 miles) on October 1, 2018.”
II. Undergird your goals (the ‘whats’)
For each goal ask the following questions (write down the answers)
1. What are the benefits of reaching this goal? 2. What are the obstacles? 3. What help is needed? 4. What is my plan of action? 5. What is my time-budget?
Using the example: “I want to complete the XYZ half-marathon (13.1 miles) on October 1, 2018.”
1. Benefits: I will be healthier, stronger and gain a sense of accomplishment
2. Obstacles: Procrastination and busy schedule (work and family)
3. Help needed: Accountability and encouragement – perhaps a training coach or partner
4. Plan of Action: Training plan – weekly running and conditioning schedule, diet changes, journal results
5. Time Budget: Weekly time set aside for training leading up to the half-marathon
III. Balance your personal goals
I recommend setting goals in 7 areas of life (Zig Ziglar’s ‘wheel’). This will keep you from becoming lopsided. Unbalanced goals will cause problems in other areas of life. Think of driving a car with a flat tire.
Set goals in these seven areas:
1. Personal (relational) 2. Spiritual 3. Family 4. Financial 5. Career 6. Intellectual 7. Physical
IV. Share your Goals
My biggest obstacle in reaching my goals is me. I must admit I need help (and I consider myself a self-starter). However, life gets busy and I know I’m a magician at creating busyness that pushes goals aside. Its a form of procrastination. Therefore, I share my goals with folks who will hold me accountable. I give them permission to press into me and ask me how I’m doing. They are my cheerleaders as well. I need someone to speak into my life and tell me to get moving or be there if I need help. (Great book on this is ‘Power of the Other’ by Dr. Henry Cloud)
I can’t say it enough, share your goals!
V. Going deeper with goals
Personal Mission Statement: If you want to live a life that matters and makes a difference in the world, create a personal mission statement. It is your ‘why’. It tells the world who you are and what you are about. Here is my mission statement.
Prayer: As a Christ-follower, I am intentional about prayer. I need wisdom, vision and strength to set and achieve goals. In addition, I want my goals to be in line with God’s will and purpose for my life. Pray in each of the seven areas of your life and ask God to provide direction.
Bible Verses: It is vital to me to have a bible verse as the foundation of my goals. I usually have one for the entire year. This verse undergirds all of my goals and acts as a theme for the year. When times get tough, I can fall back on God’s Word for strength. This reminds me whose ultimately in charge.
Reflection and Reporting: At the end of the year, I reflect and report on my goals. I share this with the team and invite feedback.
VI. When you FAIL – and you will FAIL
Every week I try to experience three things:
1. Accomplish something difficult
2. Learn something new
3. FAIL at something
Failure is a good thing. I do not hit all of my goals every year. If I did, my goals are not challenging enough. We need failure. We learn more from failure than success. When I look back over goals I’ve failed to achieve, I learn where I failed and why. I learn and also see PROGRESS! We may have failed to reach our goals but we make progress.
Encouragement for you
In conclusion, below are some quotes I keep in mind when it comes to goals:
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar
On being SPECIFIC: “Aim small, miss small” – Chris Kyle (US Navy SEAL Sniper)
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (or perish)…” – Proverbs 29:18
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
As I have made the move from business to ministry in the last 10 months, I’ve found I battle three things. As Local Outreach Pastor (community outreach) at a growing church with 8000 visitors on any given Sunday, two campuses, thirty local ministries partners, hundreds of volunteers, large budgets, various events and personal ministry, things can get a little crazy. In fact, they can feel a bit chaotic and overwhelming. How do I (personally) get things done and stay on top of hundreds of moving parts? How do I identify the most important priorities?
Well, I have a bunch of God‘s grace and an awesome team. I also have a tool that I’ve adapted from what I’ve learned from others and years of experience.
Are you looking for a better way of staying on top of things?
Know your enemy – Look in the mirror!
There are three things I battle. The first is procrastination. I am gifted at putting important tasks off by replacing them with non-important tasks or tasks I should not be doing. The second is being a slave to the urgent. Emergencies and urgent tasks happen in daily life. When they do, we have to stop what we are doing and engage in the urgent. Many times when I have procrastinated to do an important task, the task migrates into the urgent. The third is deception. This happens when I make an activity of low importance into high importance when that is not the case.
A few years ago, Dave Ramsey provided a helpful tool for establishing priorities. It contains quadrants of activity or tasks.
1. Important and Urgent: This is a crisis or emergency like your child is in the hospital. This is also task where your immediate action is required or something will break.
2. Not Urgent but Important: This something that is important but not currently urgent like taking care of your body. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could potentially have a health crisis. This is where planning and cultivating relationships reside. This will also include personal growth and health-related activities. Spend your time in this area!
3. Urgent and Not Important: This is someone else’s crisis or activities that we mistake for having high importance and urgency. Responding to email as they hit your inbox lands here. This is something that seems really important but it can wait or be delegated. If there is a crisis, I will get a phone call (sometimes a text but I recommend a call). This is a danger zone as it interrupts important work.
4. Not Urgent and Not Important: There are activities like surfing Facebook or watching senseless videos on Youtube. Dave Ramsey includes gossip here as well.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Ps 90:12
Do you need an escape from the pressures of life or a quick fix? Would you like to experience a prolonged pleasurable passive state of being? How would you like the perfect combination of stimulation and sedation?
There is no need to put a needle in your arm or smoke, snort or drink. There is no need to break the law either. I’ve found the ultimate narcotic! It is cheap, effective and the supply is only limited by the amount of time you have to enjoy it.
Pleasurable effects of this drug:
1. Stimulating and sedative (simultaneously)
2. Reduces pain and tension
3. Provides a sense of control
4. Enhances a sense of relaxation and euphoria
5. Long lasting (the drug after-effects last for several hours)
6. Stress-free, quiet absorption
That sounds pretty good, right? However, I need to make you aware of the negative side-effects of this drug.
Negative side-effects of this drug:
1. Lower cognitive skills & IQ
2. Decreased attention span (possible ADD/ADHD connection)
3. Lower academic scores & lagging reading ability
4. Depression and Anxiety
5. Impeded imagination
6. Retardation social skills
7. Increased aggression & violent behavior (double of non-users).
8. Obesity & Sleep disturbances
I recently watched an interview with a Hollywood screenwriter who described the main objective of video media is to provide a ‘narcotic effect’ for the viewer. The point of which is to lull the viewer into a state of sedation and stimulation.
“(In 1993) Psychologists and epidemiologists at the University of Tennessee and Memphis State University monitored metabolic rates in eight- to twelve-year-old children under two conditions: lying down in a dark room, and sitting up watching television. In every case, the child’s metabolic rate while sitting and watching television was far lower than his metabolic rate while lying down in the dark. Watching television is worse than doing nothing.”(1).
There are literally thousands of studies conducted over the last 60 years that prove without a doubt that both television (video) content and the medium itself are extremely damaging and addictive. Most positive benefits of content are cancelled out by the medium of TV (video) itself. It is an addictive drug and has the same effects as chemical drugs.
“Television, while chemically non-invasive, nevertheless is every bit as addicting and physiologically damaging as any other drug.” (Rivers)
Maybe its time to have a real discussion around the dinner table in America about this problem. If the average American watches 5-6 hours of TV per day, what life experience he or she trading for that 5-6 hours? This is a cultural and relational issue we must tackle.
“In 1993, the most violent prime-time shows exhibited as many as 60 acts of violence per hour.(23) That year the average child living in the United States watched 10,000 murders, assaults, and other violent acts on television,(24) and by 1997 that number had climbed to 12,000(25) and was still rising.”(2)
Based on mountains of research, there is no question that watching TV (video) is an addictive and dangerous drug. The question is, what are WE going to do about it?
Do you ever think about what your life would be like if you could (fill in the blank)?
Or, what would the world be like if we could; cure cancer, end hunger, etc.?
Maybe you have a personal mission statement? I strongly recommend that you create one. We live in a culture that lacks purpose. You must be different.
Vision is born into the mind through imagination where it is held. Mission is where a vision is transferred from the mind to reality.
Mission begins to affect reality when we make a statement followed by action(s). (more…)
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.