There’s any number of these kinds of lists, but this is one I’m finding helpful to think through at the moment:
- Character (godliness)
- Conviction (sound doctrine)
- Competence (gifting)
- Capacity (work ethic)
- Chemistry (ability to get on with others)
- Culture (understanding of our context and church culture)
And I think they’re all worthy of careful consideration. For example, if you’d asked me ten years ago I’d have said the first three are what I’m really interested in. A few years down the track I’m increasingly convinced that things like chemistry and culture are enormously important. Someone who constantly rubs others up the wrong way, or who dislikes or disagrees with your church culture is going to be a constant headache. While the person lacking in sound doctrine could do greater harm, the person who has a talent for upsetting others will still do significant harm. And if it’s a task vs. people thing I’m increasingly persuaded that erring toward people is preferable. So next time you’re recruiting, do yourself (and your team) a favour by giving consideration to all 6 ‘C’s.
Just land the plane! We’ve all sat in talks where it feels like the speaker is coming in to land, only for them to take off and circle round again. Few things are more jarring for the listener expecting resolution. Too many of us give too little attention to the end of our talks assuming it’ll just ‘come out’ in the moment. In reality it doesn’t. I’d encourage all speakers to spend much more time carefully crafting their ending to ensure maximum rhetorical punch. Why spend all that time prepping only for your message to fizzle out in the closing straight. So here’s a few ideas of ways in which you can end a talk well:
- Camera pull-back – summarise the big idea in a pithy and compelling way (craft this well; don’t just presume it’ll ‘come out’).
- Call to action – give a clear application of what to do with what has been heard.
- Quote – a pithy sentence/paragraph, verse of a poem, a hymn that captures something of what you have been trying to say.
- Repetition – perhaps close with a repeated ‘phrase that stays’ that you’ve been using throughout the talk.
- Story – a good can illustrate the content of the message (could be positive or negative example).
- Key text – re-read your key verse as a way to summarise and close.
- Narrative symmetry – loop back to the thing/question/story you started with to bring resolution.
Here’s a little plug for an excellent book by Pat Lencioni entitled The Ideal Team Player. Pat explores the characteristics of those who really shine in a team, and what happens when one of more of those characteristics is missing. In essence his three main characteristics are humble, hungry, and smart (by ‘smart’ he’s more interested in social and emotional intelligence rather than intellectual ability). Having outlined these three he then begins to look at what happens if people are lacking in one or more area. For example what happens if someone is humble and hungry, but not people smart; or what if someone is hungry and smart but not that humble. It’s a revealing little tool that helps you understand self and others, and well worth talking through with the teams you lead. He has a really helpful diagram which I’ve butchered below.
I’d definitely recommend this book as a clear, simple, helpful little tool as you seek to develop the health and functionality of your teams (including yourself!). And here’s a 90 second summary to further whet your appetite.
A new year spurs many of us toward resolutions regarding our spiritual growth. So here’s a few ideas to help you strike while the iron is hot.
- Consider your attendance. If church or small group has become irregular in recent months the best thing you can do is ink it in your diary and resolve to be there more regularly this year.
- Consider your personal Bible reading and prayer. Try a Bible reading plan – there’s loads on line that you can download as an app on your phone or print off paper copies to tuck into the back of your Bible. I like the ‘Bible in One Year’ plan which you can get from your app store for free. Also give PrayerMate a go – another great app which helps you organise your prayers into people/groups/topics.
- Consider your outreach. Has this become a bit luke-warm of late. Do you need to invest in some existing friendships. Is there a hobby or group your could start to make some new friendships. Is there someone who you are praying for. Is there a pain-line to cross with someone. Make that invite, have that conversation. Get back in the game.
- Consider your character. Is there something in your life which you need to deal with. Perhaps this is the time to talk to someone. Maybe start a little prayer triplet – people with whom you can be accountable in sharing with and praying for one another. Send a text or email to a close friend – do it now!
- Consider your wider church family. If your church produces an annual address book and/or weekly notice sheet then why not use those to fuel your prayers.
- Consider hospitality – do you regularly extend yourself to others? This is something for all of us, not just some of us (see 1 Pet 4:9). Maybe it’s Sunday lunch, or a coffee, or just a MacD’s after work. How can you bless others. Remember it is more blessed to give than to receive – that implies that you will be blessed, and you will grow as you seek to bless others.
- Consider your service – this is a key way for us to grow. Are you a consumer or spectator at your church, or are you serving others sacrificially. Our spiritual growth isn’t just about reading books or having quiet times. We grow as we serve. So perhaps there’s a new opportunity or team you could step into. Pick up a towel, wash some feet, and see how God uses you and develops you.
- Consider your worship. Regular attendance at church or small groups is part of that. But also try reading a devotional book – Tim Keller’s Psalms devo book is great. Use some older works as devotionals or prayer prompts – some of my favourites include Valley of Vision, Newton’s Letters, Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis). Or how about some new Christian music – no shortage of options here. For some of us (prob most of us) music lifts our souls in ways that other suggestions here won’t.
- Consider your reading. Get to 10ofthose or the GoodBook website and splash some cash. Get some of the old classics on your Kindle (many are free). Maybe you could start a reading group – make a list of 6-8 great books and read together. Maybe meet for Sunday lunch once every other month to talk about what you’ve read.
- Consider your digital world. Do a little social media review – how much time are you using it and how are you using it. Anything to action? Try a blog feed – Feedly is my app of choice – enables me to follow a number of helpful resources which feed mind and soul. Subscribe to a podcast – there’s loads of good preaching podcasts which you could use on your commute – again shout out to Keller’s Redeemer podcast.
- Consider your giving. Jesus talked about money quite a lot. A new year is a good time to do a financial review and think about whether you’re being sacrificial and generous not just with your time and talent, but with your money.
- Make a plan. Take a few of the things above the most strike you and plan to do something. Good intentions won’t be enough. We need to put some things in the diary and put a plan into action. So think about it, pray about it, plan it, and do it. And grow in grace in 2017.