Who Moved My Cheese?

I know who moved my cheese. God did. 2 weeks ago today, my church decided to make all full-time positions “part-time.” The Administrative Board may very well have been the instrument He used, but God moved my cheese. I believe He has greater plans for Miranda and I. I believe He is leading us into an amazing future. Sometimes, it’s been tough. We’ve had our ups and downs over these past 2 weeks, but I believe God will use this whole thing to bless us eventually. We’ve just gotta keep moving so we can make it there. I’ve caught myself saying, we’re just between blessings right now. We’re not sure where we’ll end up, but we know who’s hands we’re in and we will choose to trust Him.

who movedIt seems to come up quite often, but I keep telling Miranda we’ve just gotta be mice right now. I asked her to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” so we could be on the same page here, but since many of you haven’t read it, I’ll  explain. This is an awesome book that describes the best way to handle big changes. It’s a modern parable about a maze, some cheese, and 4 characters: Sniff and Scurry are mice and Hem & Haw are little people who all live inside the maze. Each day the four of them go to one section of the maze to find their cheese, but then one day they discover that it’s been moved. Hem and Haw wonder what happened and hang around for a while waiting for it to return. They argue a bit about it and blame all kinds of things. Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry just keep their noses to the ground and continue through the maze looking for more cheese. Sniff and Scurry are the first to find new cheese.

That’s why we’ve gotta be mice. There’s no point in complaining about our situation or blaming people or the economy or whatever. We could sit around and be upset or we could just go look for more cheese. It’s sort of like the quote from Shawshank Redemption – “Get busy living or get busy dying.” We will choose to live. We will choose to be mice and keep our noses to the ground. Besides, God is in control. He moved our cheese. We may not know where, but we do know that He knew what he was doing. He must want us somewhere else now. We will find out where soon enough – in His timing.

Please pray for us. We are searching through this maze and probably still have a few hurdles and pitfalls ahead of us. I even sang about this on a song I wrote for our Wedding Day – Just Wanna Be With You clip

We’re hanging on to this verse.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Carrots and Sticks and Candles

Carrots and Sticks may motivate a horse to run, but Dan Pink argues that for humans, they just aren’t good motivators. In the video posted below, he shares some amazing research about motivation. I thought I’d share a bit of it here for all you guys who are leaders ’cause we’ve gotta learn everything we can about motivating people – especially church people who work with volunteers.

Incentives/rewards as motivators? Here’s a quote:

As long as the task involved only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance, but once the task called for ‘”even rudimentary cognitive skill,” a larger reward “led to poorer performance.”

Many studies have shown this to be true across cultural boundaries throughout the world. Here’s an example of one of them:

“The Candle Problem.” Here’s the scenario:

The behavioral scientist brings you into a room and gives you a candle, some matches, and some thumb tacks. He explains that your job is to attach the candle to the wall so the wax doesn’t drip onto the table.

candle01

Many people begin by trying to thumbtack the candle to the wall or melting the side of the candle to stick it to the wall. Neither will work. After about 5 minutes, most people figure out the solution.

Candle02

A scientist named Sam Glucksberg (Princeton) did a series of experiments using the candle problem. He told one group of participants that he was just timing them to establish “norms.” To another he offered a carrot, a reward for the top 25 participants with the best times.

Results? The group that was offered the reward averaged 3 and a half minutes longer. Incentives/Rewards actually stifle creativity. This study has also been replicated over and over for nearly 40 years.

Next, Glucksberg did the same experiment, but presented it in a slightly different way.

Candle03

This time the group who had been offered rewards kicked the tails of the others. Why?? It’s “no brainer” work. ‘Cause, with the thumb tacks out of the box, there was no “creativity” (well, little) involved. Incentives work very well for non-cognitive tasks, but for tasks requiring creativity. . .well, it’s a bad motivator and actually hinders performance.

Here’s the bottom line:

There’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business (leadership) does.
Science knows:
1. Incentives/rewards only work in a narrow band of circumstances. (No brainer work)
2. “If then” rewards often destroy creativity.
3. The secret to high performance (motivation) isn’t carrots and sticks (rewards & punishments) but that unseen intrinsic drive – the drive to do things ’cause they matter.

OK – Here are my thoughts: As a church worker, this all makes sense. I can’t really offer our volunteers anything anyway. We may bake them cookies or something to show our appreciation, but we’re not exactly giving huge salaries or bonuses to them. Over the years, I’ve seen a few people volunteer out of wrong motivations – trying to watch their child, or get close to another volunteer, or maybe they just want to feel good about themselves. Whatever the case, those people don’t ever last very long. The people who are the greatest assets to our programs and ministries are those who are intrinsically motivated – those people who really believe in what we’re doing and want to make a difference in the lives of others. Those kinds of volunteers are consistent. They will work into wee hours of the morning trying to get things “just right.” They aren’t “high-maintenance” volunteers. They come to me with new ideas and like to tell me what they’re going to do rather than asking me about all the details of how to get it all done. These are the kinds of people I love to work with. They understand our goals and create new ways of reaching them.

Another thought: What does our carrot and stick system do to our children? We like use this system all the time with them ($$ for grades, ice cream when the team wins, etc) but if these kinds of motivators stifle creativity. . .hmm. . .what hasn’t being created that might exist right now otherwise?

The modern church needs leaders – people who can create a new vision and lead others into a preferred future. Ministry is a creative calling made by the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. If rewards and incentives break down creativity, we’ve gotta stop trying to motivate our people with them. We need all the creativity we can get. The Good News is that God’s creative Holy Spirit resides with us and within us. He’s just looking for a chance to come out of us.

If you’re interested you can check out the video that inspired these thoughts.

Playing in the Dirt

satforb1Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.” So far, it’s a great book – all about the Jewishness of Jesus and the insights that come to the Scriptures when you understand Jewish culture. I’m loving it!!! (I’m hoping to write a blog later about the things I’m learning from it.)

Anyway, one of the insights that has jumped out at me is the relationship between a disciple and his rabbi. One of the sayings found in the Mishnah, Bava Metzia 2:11 is, “If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first.” – Now that’s amazing devotion! Disciples lived with their rabbis with the goal of becoming like them. They served them and attended to their personal needs with the goal of understanding not just the concepts that they taught, but the lifestyle with which they lived. A rabbi was once (recently) observed in Jerusalem walking in a bent-over position with a little shuffle. Behind him walked several other men (presumably disciples) in the same manner.

kasen-wants-to-be-like-daddy-smallEarlier this week I was in the backyard watching Kasen as he ran around playing – pulling the wagon, collecting leaves, stooping down to pick up sticks on the ground or whatever he happened to notice, etc. (It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little boy discovering the world around him.) Anyway, as he played, I kicked at the ground – there was a specific spot where there was no grass and the mud had dried. Anyway, I was off in another world, kicking the ground, thinking about life and God and who knows what when I realized that Kasen had joined me to kick the ground. He was watching everything I was doing. He wants so desperately to be like his daddy and I must admit – that really scares me.

Scripture is pretty clear that Miranda and I are responsible for training up our children up in faith and teaching them. (Deut 6:6-9) Whoa! That means that for Kasen and Kesleigh – I’m the rabbi. What?!?! That’s crazy. God would put that kind of responsibility on me? I’m no rabbi. I haven’t had the training. I don’t have the knowledge. Or do I? I mean, it’s true I don’t have that kind of wisdom – but I have something better. The true rabbi, Jesus lived out the perfect example for me and for all His children (that includes my kids). The Holy Spirit also dwells within me and with His guidance. . . well. . . I’m hoping those are the things Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate – I’m hoping I can be better at modeling the behaviors that the Holy Spirit guides ’cause it’s definitely true. Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate me – even if all I’m doing is playing around in the dirt.

Prayer: Lord, I confess that I have played in the dirt for way too long. I don’t want to waste any more time though. Help me to build Your kingdom. Cover my children and draw them to Yourself so they can also join their parents and one day build Your kingdom too.

Follow the Servant Leader

LeaderI was watching some kids play the other day and was reminded of the games I used to play as a kid. I especially remember “Follow the Leader.” Everyone wanted to be the leader, and I don’t know about you, but I used to try to do things that the other kids couldn’t do. I would climb over things and under things and make all these weird sort of moves trying to show everyone how good I was. If someone couldn’t follow me, I thought it was ’cause I was such a good leader.

Well, things have changed over the years. I’m realizing that the best leaders are the ones who everyone can follow. It’s not the leaders job to make himself look good, but to move at a pace where everyone can keep up and everyone can play in the game.

I remember one time as a kid when I thought I’d be real smart and I led this group of kids around to the tail of the line so that I was following the last person in the line. All of a sudden there was no leader ’cause I was following the last person. It was just a big circle.

There’s something poetic about this idea as you think about the leader following his people – kind of a leader who serves sort of an idea. But the whole concept breaks down if you’re trying to go somewhere ’cause all you’ve got is a big circle.

This whole servant leader thing is tough ’cause the leader has to be out front taking the hits for everyone (like leading people down a trail where you’re the one who breaks all the spiders webs out front) but he also has to be serving the rest of the group by encouraging them and equipping them to follow. He is in the front and the back at the same time.

Jesus is the only one who ever did this very well. He served people and led them at the same time. I heard someone say that Dorthy on the Wizard of Oz did a pretty good job too. (Check this post) I wanna be good at it too. God help me ’cause it just seems too difficult sometimes.

Servant Leadership

This leadership model is grounded in the idea that different people need to be led in different ways. Let me explain the basics.

Commitment and Competence – Development Stages
Development stage 1 (D1) – People are usually highly committed to a new project, but have low competence since they’ve never done it before.

Development stage 2 (D2) – When the honeymoon is over commitment levels typically drop and competence remains pretty much the same. (This is where people most often quit.)

D3 – If they persevere both commitment and competence rise again.

D4 – The longer someone does something the better they get. Both commitment and competence continue to rise.

Directive and Supportive Behaviors

All leadership breaks down to these two kinds of behaviors.

Directive = *goal setting, action planning, clarifying roles, *showing and telling, time lines, evaluations,  priorities, etc.

Supportive = *listening, praise/encouragement, info sharing about organization or self, *problem solving, asking for input, rationale (explaining the whys), etc.

* = most critical behaviors.


Putting it all Together

A “D1” (high commitment and low competence) needs an “S1” Leadership Style – S1 = Low Support/High Direction (leader decides) This is sometimes referred to as a “Directing” style of leadership. Motto is “Leader decides.”

A “D2” (low commitment and low competence) needs high direction and high support since they are in the “quitting” stage. This is “S2” style is a “Coaching” style. The motto is “Let’s talk, leader decides.”

A “D3” whose commitment and competence have increased needs a “Supportive” style of leadership with high support and low direction. Motto – “Let’s talk, you decide.”

And finally a “D4” (high commitment and competence) needs a “delegating” style. The “S4” is a low direction/low support style which empowers others to “run with it.” Motto is “You decide.”


OK -in my opinion, most of these behaviors come pretty naturally if you truly care about those you are leading. If you’ve developed a relationship with them, then you can sense a lot of this stuff. It’s certainly a good model to understand and having this knowledge will give you a way to evaluate your efforts, but it really all comes down to relationship.

This understanding of leadership could also be beneficial to parenting. Kids need to have a different type of relationship with their parents as they develop. In the first few years (1-5years) a lot of directing is needed. Between the ages of 6-12, they probably need more of a coaching-style of relationship with their parents.  The parents still make the decisions, but begin having discussions to help their children understand why they are making those choices. As teenagers (if parents have done well with the other steps), parents could begin to play a more supportive role where they allow kids to make some decisions based upon the talks they have together. It’s important to recognize that this stage has “low” direction not “no” direction. In certain cases, the leader/parent must still make the decisions. By the time they leave home, (like it or not) kids will be responsible (or not) for their own actions. If a parent has been successful in leading his children as God would call him to, he would probably be comfortable delegation or even with sending his child out on his own.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be the leader and parent that You’ve called me to be. Allow me a special ability to discern where people are so that I can lead them in the way that will most benefit them. Help me to be more intentional about training others so they can lead. Grant me favor in the eyes of those I lead so that I can grow deeper relationships with them in order to bring them to new places and to understand what challenges they need or what support they need. Give me a vision which is worthy of commitment – one which honors You at every turn. Glorify your name through my life and my influence upon others. AMEN.

Wizard of Oz Leadership

Wizard
In doing some homework today, I was reminded of a seminar I went to that was talking about the difference between modern and postmodern leadership. I personally think the example they gave fits more with Biblical leadership and worldly leadership. Anyway, the main idea is that worldly leadership is like that of the Wizard and Jesus’ leadership is like Dorthy.

The Wizard’s Leadership (Similar to the World)
He hid behind the machine(organization) and commanded others what to do.
He intimidated others.
He wanted things his way.
He tried not to be a real person, but just a voice.
There was a lot of smoke and mirrors with his leadership.
In the end, he was a fraud.

Dorthy’s Leadership (Similar to Jesus)
She journeyed with her followers and led out of relationships
Her followers were also friends and she sympathized with them.
She wanted what was best for them.
She didn’t let anything keep her from moving forward.
When there were battles, she was a part of the fight.
She kept them on the right track (yellow brick road).
She was an encourager.
She was child-like and humble.
She skipped and sang a lot and had a dog.

There were alot more ideas that people had that day, but this is all I can remember and I haven’t been able to find my notes from that day. Anyway, I think you get the idea. It’s a fun way to look at leadership.