the baby and the bathwater

input – big
February 23, 2008, 10:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

big: of major concern, importance, gravity, or the like

I was having coffee with a friend recently who has just moved to Cheltenham having previously been on the staff of a church in London. He said that his boss at that church had, during one particular discussion on the way forward on something, had once said to him: “Yes, I do believe in democracy in all of this. I am convinced about the one man one vote philosophy. And I have to tell you, that I am that one man, and I have that one vote.’

And I have to say that something resonates with me on this. It is far far easier to work with people who just do what you say all the time and don’t complain. You may remember me saying this before, but in my last job in the Insurance industry I was given the nickname ‘the bulldozer’ by some of my colleagues. Maybe not the best recommendation on my people skills, but one I was kind of proud of in a sad sort of way! Of course, I mean, I like the creative process and the brainstorm as much as the next man, but at the end of the day, I very quickly want to move from discussion to decision, and often my natural instinct is to say to my team: ‘look: the deal is this – you do what I say and I will still pay your salary.’

Some people tell me it’s not the best way to win friends and influence people.

But now you know what I’m really like. Deep down.

There is a point in bearing my soul in this way, though.

And the point is this.

How do you raise up big leaders – leaders who will do big and significant things in the kingdom – without losing any sense of unity and direction and purpose and vision?

And I would like to suggest a few things that I have found important in the team I work with. Not that in any way I have been great at this, but they are my thoughts!

The heart of it

Volunteer or paid staff, young or old, experienced or rooky, the first thing is always character. Choices about leaders rest on this probably more than anything. Good character underpins trust, which is vital if you are going to be able to release big bits of stuff to other leaders. Good character results in an otherliness that promotes unity rather than self-promotion that tends to be divisive. And the bigger the responsibilities, the greater the strength of character required. Almost without fail, significant character issues come back to bite you.

I have the teeth marks.

The big and the small of it

I remember one of my worship pastor friends asking one of his younger worship leaders to help put chairs out for a meeting once, only to get the younger worship leader square up to him and say ‘I don’t do chairs!!’. I remember hearing another story where a pastor in a large church stuck his head out of his office and called into the open-plan section outside his door ‘anyone making me a cup of tea then?’ He tells me how he was marched up to the office kitchen and ‘encouraged’ to make the whole of the rest of the office tea himself!

Big leaders seem to take on the small things with as much enthusiasm as the big things. My boss expects me to lead worship at new wine for 4000 people and also expects me to turn up on a Saturday morning to turn the pa on for the Trinity Women’s event.

And to smile through both (which, actually I do!).

So when we look for people who could take on big responsibilities, I think we need to look for those who are happy to do the chairs and make the tea.

And smile a lot.

Running with it

In my mind, there is a big difference between ownership and freedom when it comes to responsibilities. I think it’s far easier to release things to people if they know what their boundaries are, and can operate effectively within them. So often you hear people say things like ‘I can’t own this unless I have freedom to do exactly what I want’. Unfortunately, where you operate within a team of any nature, complete freedom is never an option. Or to coin a phrase of a well known TV advert at the moment ‘It doesn’t work like that’.

Just do it

Sometimes in ministry you have to be able to say to people ‘Just do it’. Sometimes things just can’t be fully explained or justified – sometimes because of confidentiality, sometimes because of time, sometimes because of wider pastoral or leadership considerations. It’s not the norm, but sometimes you need to be able call on your equity with people and ask them to ‘Just do it’.

Occasionally I have to say to younger worship leaders – actually, just change that song, just use that person in your band, just turn up at that prayer meeting and lead. It is such a huge relief when they just say ‘ok then’. One guiding principle in my role is this: I choose to be uncomplicated. It maybe that my Pastor wants a particular song, or wants to intervene in a dispute between staff members. My choice is to be uncomplicated. Doesn’t mean I don’t share my views! It just means that now and then, I choose just to do it. I choose to accept that occasionally the deal is ‘You do what I say and I will still pay your salary!’

So input number 5: people who understand the heart of it, people who appreciate the big and the small of it, people who run with it, and occasionally people who are happy just do it.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good post…

Comment by Loxley

Hey lox. didn’t know you were still reading…..

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Yeah, in between crazy amounts of work, studying and photography…

I always drop by every couple of days for a quick look at the latest wisdom..!!

Comment by Loxley

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