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Archive for Management


Should You Hire Your Friends?

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Those of you who are closely associated with me and the ministry at First Baptist Church here in Des Moines know that we’re deep in the weeds of staffing. I stumbled upon this interesting article from The Atlantic about hiring friends and thought you might find it helpful. You can check out Jordan Weissmann’s article by CLICKING HERE.

Throughout the years I’ve participated in hiring people I knew as well as hiring total strangers. Each one has pros and cons. To say the least I was a bit surprised at his research claims, but nonetheless his logic makes sense. What do you think? What have your experiences been?

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A Disturbing Trend Among Churches

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Check out this article from Reuters that discusses the increased number of bank foreclosures on churches in America. You can find the article here from Reuters.com. In the past, banks have exhibited a great deal of leniency with struggling churches, in part I believe, because they didn’t want the negative public relations reaction from communities and because church buildings, frankly, are hard to re-sell. What does this say to you about the economy? How does this article inform church leaders today about how they approach debt?

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Making Ideas Happen

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One of the things that I appreciate most about my career peers is the level of creativity they possess. Think about what the average pastor has to produce over the course of a year. There are sermons to be researched, written and then orally communicated to attendees that possess on average a seven minute attention span. There are services for special occasions ranging from holidays to weddings and funerals. There is program administration, which requires a pastor to take a concept and lead volunteers to action. And in addition to all of this is the routine writing of letters, articles, and in my instance, a blog where I make about four posts per week. All of that to say that over a lifetime, a pastor creates volumes and volumes of material, beginning often with nothing more than a Bible, a pen, and a legal pad. Many ideas get implemented. But I suspect many are left to wither and die on the corner of a napkin that is tucked in a desk drawer.

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky is one of the best reads I’ve picked up in 2010. While it is clearly written for a business audience, I think it is very applicable to the pastors and clergy of our communities of faith. The title was compelling because I’m one who typically spends most of his time with the right half of the brain. Getting the plethora of ideas turned into reality has always been a sticking point for me. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed in my ministry career to be partnered with people who are excellent at gaming out those annoying nuts and bolts. Belsky’s book is helpful because through it I have discovered that I need to assume the responsibility for turning those wonderful ideas into action plans.

I think it’s important to note that Making Ideas Happen is not a book about how to become creative or how to increase creativity. By and large, the author assumes that the reader’s primary challenge is not the absence of creativity. The book is about how to take your ideas and turn them into something tangible. Any idea, regardless of good it may be, is nothing more than an idea unless it is executed. In fact, according to Belsky, an average idea with a plan of implementation is always better than a great idea with no plan of implementation.

The book is written in three broad sections. The first section deals with how to organize and execute ideas. Beginning with a bias toward action, the author walks the reader through basic steps of how to organize and structure an idea so that the idea can transition from concept into something that is concrete. The best basic advice he provides is that once the idea is conceived it must immediately be viewed as a project. Treating the idea as a project aids the creative mind in the actual implementation of the idea as well as fending off any distractions that might rear their heads.

Section two deals with “othering.” Ideas need members of the community to speak to them in order to help shape and refine them. I found this section intriguing because Belsky advocates vulnerability and transparency over and against vanity and narcissism. Anyone who has had an idea faces the temptation to become protective and possessive. Vanity can prevent the honest evaluation from others that is often necessary to put the concept in motion. As I read this I thought of artists, musicians and entertainers who have split up or sued over “creative control.” Belsky goes 180 degrees against that line of thought and encourages creative people to expose their ideas to feedback and evaluation. He makes it simple, asking the reader to consider whether creative control is the goal versus implementation. Great question!

In the concluding section, Belsky discusses the implications of creativity upon leadership styles. This section is helpful because Belsky addresses issues such as how creative people express leadership and how creative people prefer to be led. This section may have been worth the price of the book.

For too long people have polarized themselves around labels such as abstract and analytical. The author demonstrates that through discipline the creative person can have the best of both worlds. Making Ideas Happen was helpful on many levels, and I whole heartedly commend it to you for your reading pleasure. I believe you will find it beneficial.

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