Bugs

Photo courtesy of dasWebweib

Photo courtesy of dasWebweib

We’ve got bugs in our house. They’re these little flying gnats that are impossible to catch and buzz around your face constantly. I see them in the kitchen, the living room, the dining room…They are everywhere. I’m really annoyed by them, quite frankly. Whenever I see one near me, I start trying to catch them in my hand, or by clapping my hands together. I almost always miss however, because they seem to posses some kind of teleportation technology that moves them to another part of the house instantly when threatened.

As I sat in the dining room watching one crawl across my cutting board this morning, two thoughts crossed my mind. First, where did I pack the white vinegar; we need to disinfect the cutting board again. Second, and more relevant, it occurred to me how often I focus on the bugs in my life. 

One of the character traits—or flaws, depending on how far we take it—of us technical types, is that we are problem solvers. To be effective problem solvers, we get pretty good at spotting problems. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you are a problem solver, everything can start to look like a problem. 

And when everything is a problem, more specifically, our problem, we tend to get frustrated. 

We miss all the good things that are going on around us because all we see is problems. We miss out on developing deeper relationships with our team and families because we’re too busy solving problems. Eventually, we can get aggravated and frustrated because all we do is solve everyone else’s problems. 

This morning, as I watched that stupid little gnat, it occurred to me how small it was. Really small, in fact. Microdot connector small. Then I looked around at the rest of the house (which is a mess because we’re packing and getting ready to move Tuesday), and I realized that in proportion to everything else in my life, that little bug, which so…bugs me, is really a small deal. In the grand scheme of things, so much more is going right than wrong, and maybe I should be focusing on the right stuff instead of the problems. Maybe I should be spending more time talking with my wife and daughters than trying to kill those gnats. Metaphorically speaking. 

What bugs you? What are you letting bug you that you shouldn’t?

Roland

Ask Me Anything!

IMAGE COURTESY OF Andrew Steele

IMAGE COURTESY OF Andrew Steele

Most of you probably know this by now, but in case you missed it, in about a week, I will be leaving Sunny California and moving to Nashville. Now that our girls are out on their own, my wife and I decided to head back east, a bit closer to home. We're very excited about the change and can't wait to see what God has for us on this next adventure. 

Van offered to drive out there with me and as we considered the possibilities of 22 hours in the car, it occurred to us that we should do something fun. Besides a road trip together. Something fun for all of you. So what we have for you is a chance for audience participation. 

You've probably heard of Ask Me Anything, something Reddit does with famous people. We thought it would be fun to do an AMA, or in this case a AMaVA (Ask Mike and Van Anything). Not only are we going to do an AMA, we're going to record it while we're driving. 

This is your chance to ask us questions. Collectively, Van and I have about 60 years of live production experience and 25 years on church staffs. It's safe to say we have learned a thing or two. Moreover, we know a lot of people, so we may even phone a friend, just to make it even more fun. 

Now here is where you come in. Go to our ask me anything page and submit your question(s). We already have quite a few, but remember we have 22 hours in the car. 

This is time-sensitive; we leave on May 28, so you're going to want to have those questions in by the 27th. Depending on how many questions we have and how long we talk, you'll be hearing the answers on ChurchTechWeekly in June. Maybe even into July... 

Thanks for reading, and don't forget, www.churchtecharts.org/ama

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It's Not For Us

I had a bit of a revelation this past weekend. This doesn’t happen often, but the Lord showed me something on Mother’s Day that has freed me up from something that has been bugging me for a while now. My wife and I decided to go back to my former church for Mother’s Day. We hadn’t been back since Christmas Eve, and we figured with just a few weeks left in CA, it would be a good chance to connect with some friends again. 

Now, I’ve had a bit of a hard time going back because of the many changes that have taken place since I left. I spent nearly five years there, and also made a bunch of changes. In fact, I changed pretty much everything of a technical nature. There is almost nothing there today that was there six years ago when I arrived. 

As one might expect, the new TD has been putting her own touch on things. Last weekend, I noticed a whole bunch of things that were different from when I wrapped up the renovation last summer. At first, I was a bit put off, wondering what was wrong with what we did then. Then it hit me.

I didn’t build that system for me. 

Even when I was designing the new PA, video system and infrastructure, I knew I would be leaving the church before long. So I tried to design in as much flexibility as I could. I actually remember telling someone I wanted it to be easy to change down the road. Why was I bothered when someone changed it?

As I said, this was really freeing. It was almost exhilarating in fact, to realize that someone did exactly what I designed the system to do—change. The curtains that I fought so hard for have moved. The screen that I cleverly designed to move upstage or downstage is now upstage (I brought it downstage). The truss we re-hung has moved again. 

All this was possible because we designed a system that could change and adapt easily. It may not be the way I would do it, but who cares; I’m not there any more. What is important is that it’s easy for the current and future tech teams to make it their own. 

It occurred to me that as technical leaders we have to be very open-handed with our creations. The truth is we will not be where we are today forever. Someone will come after us. And they will change some or all of what we did. The real question is, will they be cursing our name because of the backwards, proprietary or obtuse way we did something, or thanking us for making it so simple to change. 

You are not going to be the last technical director at your church. That’s a powerful bit of knowledge. What you do today will either help or hurt your successor. Personally, I am now glad things are changing there so much. It means I did my job well. When I got there, there were a few things that I put off changing for 4 or 5 years because it was going to be so hard to fix, it was done that poorly. Now, they’re changing stuff all the time, which means our system updates must have made it easier. 

Think about what you do in the context of how it will effect those who come after you. It may change the way you work.

Roland

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