Systems Take Time, Systems Make Time

Over the years, I’ve been guilty of spending an inordinate amount of time on the front end of a task or project. Instead of simply completing the task, I’ll also create a system to make completing future tasks easier.  As we’ve already discussed, automation is helpful for tasks that are going to be repeated or recurring ministry experiences. The secret to automation is creating systems! Not only do you need to document everything you do—you need to systematize it.

Earlier, I mentioned how I began to automate some recurring events, such as infant dedications. Some people with whom I’ve shared these tips think, “I don’t have time to spend 8-12 hours mapping out all of the little details that come up! That’s a waste of time!” Actually, it is a “waste of time” not to create systems. Why? Because the next time you need to prepare for the same task or event, you’ll be doubling the hours you spend working on it...

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When You Succeed, Look Out the Window

Healthy leaders understand who has helped them, who has supported them, and who got them to the victory that they are reveling in today. I seek to create teams—to build people and create processes. Interestingly enough, when I have a victory, it’s never one that I’ve won on my own. Only a fool would think such a thing. Our victories in ministry have dozens of people behind them. Ministry is not a solo event—it’s a team sport.

Think for a moment about the actress who stands up at an award ceremony after being handed a gold statue. Although it’s somewhat annoying to the rest of us, she goes on for as long as they let her, thanking everyone who was involved in making this opportunity a reality for her. The actress wins the award, but there are hundreds of people who do their part in order to make that happen. In the same way, if you sit in a position of leadership, don’t be fooled into thinking that your victories have been achieved exclusively...

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Leading…But No One is Following

If you think you’re leading, and yet no one is following, you may just be taking a walk.

Emotional intelligence is a key characteristic in any leadership role. Understanding people, and the ways they follow (or don’t follow) your leadership, is a critical role in ministry especially. A leader needs to have that intuitive, gut-level sense of whether people are with you. Are they behind you? Or are they merely tolerating you? Do people want to hear from you? Do they ask with excitement about what’s coming up next in your ministry? Or are people consistently questioning and criticizing what you are doing?

Just because you’re in a leadership position doesn’t mean you are a leader. Positional leadership is the lowest form of leadership. Emotional leadership—leading from a position of charisma and authenticity—is a higher, more effective form. If you think people are going to follow you wholeheartedly just because of your role, you’re...

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Automate Everything

I have a passion for automation—for setting up systems and processes that reduce human involvement and maximize ministry output.

For example, during my time in ministry, I kept an email folder called “Drafts.” Inside this folder were 25 different responses to common questions: questions about baptism, infant dedication, our summer programming, and so on. These email responses were pre-written and well thought-out; they waited in the wings to be sent to people who had the appropriate questions. That is automation: working on something once in such a way that it works hundreds of times for me in the future.

In ministry, if we don’t come to the table with some level of automation, we are going to be a small gear spinning so fast that it starts to smoke. That is a recipe for burnout. If you sit down and think through the elements of your ministry you can automate right now, you’ll begin to set up a process that literally pays you back hundreds of hours...

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End Your Day with Tomorrow

In my ministry growth and development, I stumbled upon a fantastic strategy. It not only works for me, but is also in keeping with verified brain research. The brain is an interesting organ—it’s constantly seeking to solve problems and tasks. Have you ever had a moment when you’re trying to remember something, it’s on the tip of your tongue, and then several minutes later it pops into your head? When you can’t remember something, your mind starts combing through files in your short- and long-term memory. It goes on a search-and-locate mission. Even when your conscious mind can’t grasp onto the fact, your subconscious mind is still very active. Maybe 10 or 12 minutes later, you have what’s called an “out-of-the-blue moment.” BING! Your mind wouldn’t rest until it found that piece of information.

The same thing happens when we try to solve a problem or complete a task: your mind seeks to find the most efficient way to solve...

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Measure Twice, Cut Once

josh denhart Apr 23, 2020

Over the years, I’ve become friends with many carpenters. For some reason, God has placed many individuals from the construction industry into my life. I’ve spent time with them, and sought to learn their trade—to no avail. I’m just not a handy guy. Regardless, I learned a very important principle that my construction friends work by: measure twice, cut once.

Sometimes, I’d be working with my friend, The Finnish Carpenter. This man had expensive wood that he would use to make crown molding and beautiful Finnish carpentry sculptures inside million-dollar homes. Sometimes, he actually allowed me to make some cuts and help him. I don’t know why he did this, but I picked up some valuable lessons from him. With the expensive wood he used, we only had one shot. If I cut a piece of expensive oak in the wrong place, the entire board would be rendered useless—not an effective strategy.

Ministry leaders need to think about our changes, communications,...

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