Category Archives: Leadership Development

My Year Outside the Church

Sacred

2014 was my first full year working outside the church since I was 18 years old. It sounds crazy but for the past 16 years I have held some kind of job within a local church or Christian institution. That streak ended in 2014 when I transitioned to lead Edgewater Collective.

I grew up thinking the only way I could truly serve God was to be working in a church or overseas in missions. Working in a local church was a higher calling, or so I thought.

I went to Taylor University and chose the Christian Education major with dreams of becoming a lifetime youth pastor. After college I continued my education at Denver Seminary for a Master’s Degree in youth ministry to cement this decision to invest in the spiritual development of teenagers.

But after serving in four different churches, I felt God calling me away from the church. Though the nonprofit I started is not a faith-based organization, I knew God had prepared me for this role. I sold all my “church” books and jumped into this new career. I soon realized that many of the skills I learned inside the church prepared me to work in education advocacy and community building.

As I dove into learning about public education and building relationships with various community stakeholders, I soon realized that God has uniquely designed me for this role. I came alive in a way that I never experienced working in a church. I also noticed that though this work was outside the four walls of a church, it could still be a “sacred” role.

Our family has also thrived as “normal” church attenders. For the first time in our marriage, Hillary and I were able to pick where to attend church. We could enter relationships and community life without the expectations that come with being the pastor’s family. Hillary has found a role in prayer ministry that would not have come as the pastor’s wife. Our girls have experienced worship in a more charismatic setting and experienced a different kind of relationship with the Lord.

Now my experience is obviously not normative. There are pastors I know who were created to work in a church. But there are also pastors who continue to suffer away in their church leadership role because they can’t see themselves working outside the church. Sadly, they are missing the role that they were created for.

I’ve definitely found that there is no such thing as a sacred or secular job. Every job can be sacred if we view our work as a way of serving God and others. Each job in my journey was very important in helping me learn the skills I use today as I lead Edgewater Collective.

I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for our work and our family!

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The F-Word and Leadership

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Ten years ago a friend and I brought a dream into reality and started a coffee bar at Denver Seminary. We had dreams that Kurios Koffee would someday get bought out by Starbucks and we would get some extra cash. For two years we made just enough money to break even and enjoy free coffee. We even jumped into coffee catering and brought our coffee equipment to weddings and church events.

Then Denver Seminary decided to move to a brand new campus in Littleton and I bought out my business partner as he was moving out of town. I took out business loans to fund new equipment for a bigger space at the new campus and was excited for what could be at the new space. Kurios Koffee incorporated and the business systems went to the next level.  Read the rest of this entry

Getting Naked

Picture from cover of "Getting Naked"

I am an addict of whatever Patrick Lencioni, the founder of The Table Group, writes and says. Lencioni is devoted to organizational clarity and effectiveness and I believe the church has a lot to learn from his ideas. Though the church is not a business, we do manage people, teams and ideas so principles from the business world can and should inform how we manage. We view and analyze these principles through the lens of Scripture to see which ones contain God’s truth.

Patrick Lencioni’s new book “Getting Naked” is focused on overcoming three fears that threaten customer loyalty. I love Lencioni’s method of telling a fable and weaving in his principles throughout the story. Then at the end of the story he explains these principles more in-depth. Getting Naked follows Jack Bauer (not of 24 fame, but the same name) as he studies a small consulting firm that his management consulting company, Kendrick and Black, has acquired. Jack learns that this smaller company has some interesting and mind boggling principles that fly in the face of his training and experience. He immerses himself in this acquired company and finds out that his company has a lot to learn from this smaller, yet more effective consulting firm. As Jack reports back to his company on the experience, he develops a model that explains why this acquired company retains its customers’ loyalty so much better than his own company. Read the rest of this entry

Work/Life Balance

Here is a great video from TEDx in which Nigel Marsh the author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” talks about work/life balance.

Feedback and Why it Scares the “You-Know-What” Out of Me

Asking for feedback scares the “you-know-what” out of me. But I need it. One of the things that my time at Apple taught me was to elicit honest feedback and respond to it in a healthy way. In Apple Retail we used a system called NetPromoter to gauge how we were enriching the lives of customers. I was addicted to reading customer’s comments and then helping our team respond to what our customers were needing.

So today I sent out a survey to the parents at First Presbyterian Church to get a vibe for how we are doing in meeting their needs. It is hard to read some of the comments and not take them personally, but I am addicted to reading them.  One of the questions we asked them was, “How likely are you to recommend our church based on our Family Ministry programs?” It is this question that we are paying particular attention to.  We want to have a program that people are proud of and talk to others about. I desperately want to know how we are doing and how we can improve our ministries here. I love reading the responses of those who are honest about the ways that we need to improve. Specific feedback is gold to me right now.

How do you receive feedback in your church or job? How do you rise above taking it personally and use it to improve how you do your work?

The Power of Vulnerability

J.R. Briggs, a friend from Taylor, shared the video below on Facebook.  I dare you to watch it.  It will challenge your assumptions and hit you at the core of your self. In the video, Brene Brown tells a very personal story about her research into the power of vulnerability.

Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work

Have you ever watched The Office and wonder what Michael Scott does during the day that is productive?  It seems like all he does is interrupt his employees and call meetings, which are both big time wasters.  Unfortunately a lot of real offices and real managers act the same way.  Quality work doesn’t really get done at the office.

I just watched Jason Fried, the co-founder of 37signals, give a great talk on this very topic of productivity in the office.  Here is the video:

Jason gives three great ideas at the conclusion of his talk on how the office and managers can be more productive.

1.  No Talk Thursday

Take a day, even just once a month, that is “No Talk Thursday” and watch how much creative, productive work is done.  So much time is wasted in an office with chatter that is unproductive.

2.  Move from Active Communication to Passive Communication

So much of what is covered in meetings can actually be communicated by email. In most organizations, if we think critically and outside the box, meetings can quickly be cut in half.  Most organizations could probably do 15% of the meetings they currently have and gain tons of productivity.  With less meetings, managers actually have to work on something and employees aren’t interrupted from doing work.

3.  Cancel a Meeting

I love this one.  Just cancel a meeting and see what happens.  Everything will be fine.

Nothing New Under the Sun

My fondest Sunday School memories are of Eugene Anderson who was my fifth grade teacher.  He was a World War II vet and told us stories from those years. Since then I have always tried to connect with those of older generations than myself.  The wisdom and experiences of those who have gone before me is so important as I grow into the man that God wants me to be.  The temptation of young leaders is to think that their ideas are the newest and greatest ideas.  The irony is that most of the time there is nothing new under the sun.

This morning I met with a men’s group from our church and was the youngest in the group by thirty or forty years.  As we studied the life of Christ, I loved hearing how they interpreted Scripture based on their current and past experiences. They had interpretations I would not even think of. We need relationships with those who are further in the journey than ourselves.

The Nines Conference

In college I started attending Willow Creek’s Evangelism Conference and these conferences were very formative in my calling and leadership development.  Since then I have attended Willow’s Leadership Conference and love the fact that they simulcast their conference to other locales.

This year I have signed up for Leadership Network’s The Nines Conference.  This conference is unique on two levels.  First the entire conference is online.  I don’t have to travel somewhere and stay in a hotel.  Second, the conference is free.  Some might think that because it is free then the quality of the conference is weak.  As I look over the speakers, they are the same as other conferences that charge money (Francis Chan, Alan Hirsch, Rick Warren, Seth Godin, Craig Groeschel and many more).

I love the idea of this conference on many levels.  One of the factors that I have loved about conferences is discussing the ideas with other conference attendees from my church.  With an online conference it would be easy to sit alone in the office and just watch the conference.  To maximize learning and dialogue I will try to convince my other staff members to watch the conference with me and build in dialogue over lunch.

Check out more about the Nines Conference here.