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