Last time, I told you the story of how I ended up in technical ministry. It’s really all due to my first Pastor, Ron Bohem. He recently suffered a medical emergency that nearly cost him his life. And it cost a lot to keep him here. I asked you to consider donating to his medical expense fund, and if you haven’t, go back and read that post, then help out. This blog exists in large part due to his influence in my life, so if you’ve ever learned anything from me, you can pay it forward by helping my friend Ron.
And, after reading this post, you can’t say you never learned anything because I’m going to share with you some things I learned about leadership from him.
When I began attending Western Reserve Grace Brethren Church—which we all called WRGBC or Grace for obvious reasons—they met in a middle school. Everything had to be brought in and out every week. Guess who was leading the charge? Pastor Ron and his family. I started attending in the summer, and I will never forget the first big snowstorm of the winter. I had a long drive, so I left plenty of time and got there early. It was blowing and snowing and freezing outside, and there was Ron, bundled up in a parka with his snowblower clearing the sidewalks so we could get into the building without tracking through snowdrifts.
A few years later, when we built our first building, the congregation was a bit larger, but the budget was still tight. He negotiated with the builder that we could do some of the labor. Again, Ron was right in the middle of it. He spent many days alongside other men in the church pulling cable through conduit, framing, painting and whatever else needed to be done. He didn’t just walk in, tell everyone they were doing a great job then leave, he worked with—and in many cases harder and longer—than the rest of us.
I’ve never forgotten that lesson. In my years as a TD, I always strived to be the fisrt one there and the last one out. I’m pretty sure no one on my team would tell you I worked less than they did. Whether it was a weekend service or a big event, I was there with them, getting dirty and sweaty, making sure we were getting things done.
This kind of leadership creates a team that will do almost anything. I know my guys and gals would have done anything for me, because they did. And I’m pretty sure it was because they knew from experience that I would do anything for them.
Empower High Capacity People
When I offered to start the student ministry, Ron said, “Go for it!” And while he gave me plenty of support, he largely stayed out of it. If he saw there was a better way I could be doing something, or someone I should meet, he told me about it. But he never micromanaged.
I led my tech teams the same way. When I came across someone who I knew had mad skills and a heart to do the right thing, I stayed out of their way. I resourced them as much as possible, and always stayed close in case they needed something. But when you find someone, paid or unpaid, who is good at their job, let them go! Chances are they will accomplish much more than you could.
Invest in People
While doing student ministry, Ron helped me get connected with other staff youth leaders in our district. He took me to conferences. The church paid to send my wife and I to the SonLife course one year, even though I know it was a huge stretch financially. He saw the value in helping people get better at what they do.
As much as I could, I tried to do the same for my staff. Through regular training, we raised everyone’s skill levels. I’ve paid to take my staff and volunteers to conferences when the church wouldn’t because I think it’s that important. Everybody wins when we all get better at what we do.
Ron is a lover of people. Which is good because I was likely pretty hard to love back then. I was a cocky 22-year old who thought he knew a lot more than he actually did. But he loved me through that, and gently shaped my thinking so I would be much more effective.
We often find people who are hard to love in our tech ministries. The type of people who gravitate toward tech are not usually the super outgoing, happy-go-lucky types. Instead, we tend to be introverted, quiet, smart (and sometimes pretty proud of that), and maybe even moody and dark.
In spite of all that, as technical leaders, we need to love people. This can be a challenge, because often we fit those descriptors pretty well ourselves. But never lose sight that it’s about people.
And sometimes it’s just about treating people well. I remember how Ron treated the crusty old electrician who wired our building. This guy didn’t like working for churches because he felt they were full of hypocrites. But Ron brought regular coffee and donuts, listened to him complain, and just genuinely cared for him. To this day, the way I treat outside contractors is influenced by what I saw there.
There are many more things I learned in the nearly 10 years we served together. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t take any credit for what is happening here at CTA or in the technical arts community in general. But his influence was great in my life, and as I said, it’s unlikely I would be doing what I am today were it not for the investment he made in my 20+ years ago.
And that’s why I’m not going to be shy in using my influence to again ask you to donate to his medical expense fund. Think of it as a small price to pay for what you learn here. Thanks in advance for helping out!