Maybe It Is Rocket Science











Many years ago I was in a hotel in Laughlin, Nevada for a dance competition with my two daughters (since you asked, tap, ballet, and jazz, them not me). We spent two days at this competition and the event was held in a large ballroom with a stage in one corner. The judge’s table was located on the stage and the dancers performed on a dance floor facing them.

The first year we attended they had a sound system that had not been updated since the hotel was built in the early 1970′s. All the tracks were on cassette (if your kids were in dance, you know this was not unusual) and every song, every song was distorted.

On this visit we found that they “upgraded” their system to four JBL EON powered speakers. These speakers were “mounted” with open end linked chain at a 95 degree up angle, across the front of the stage on the PROSCENIUM lighting pipe.
This “new” system sounded better than the “old” system. Not good, just better.

Church is often like this. There are systems out there that don’t sound good, they just sound better. There are programs that aren’t good, just better than they were a year ago. People often find it easy to settle. I believe we should be grateful no matter what, but I also believe that we should strive for excellence in everything. We have to stop settling.

Now I know that I will get lots of comments about resources and stewardship, so comment and I will post them. Tell me how, at your resource level, you strive for excellence. (Check out Mike Sessler’s post on it.) Now a good friend of mine reminded me that it is easy to make “excellence” itself a god. So be clear that I am not talking about excellence for excellence sake.

“….And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” Colossians 3:22b-24 (The Message)

I know that what is GOOD is sometimes in the eye or ears of the beholder. To some, Willie Nelson is both the best and worst singer in the world (or insert your own choice, Bob Dylan, Bruno Mars). Willie Nelson concerts to some “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” but even if you don’t like his music, he does his craft with excellence.

We need to be constantly striving to do the best job we can with the systems and resources we have. We shouldn’t expect God to bless us with better if we are not doing the best we can with what he has already given. Now I know that in tech we are not always in control of the content and talent we have to amplify and support, but we should always do our best and know we are not responsible for the things that are out of our control.

Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. We all make mistakes. (….yeah, that wasn’t the right scene to bring up and why is the walk in music playing?) I am talking about a life style that we can set as a goal, a place we would like to be. An attitude of giving the best we have, while giving grace to others as they do the same (and even if they don’t).

We’re not perfect beings, that’s why we need Jesus, but we can all strive for excellence in every situation.


Leadership Silver Bullets









I am asked frequently what I think my “Silver Bullets” for leadership and managing people are. So I thought I would share some (Note that I didn’t think any of these up, I stole.. I mean learned them from others far wiser than I am).

#1 Work hard to learn your people’s LOVE LANGUAGE.

By this I mean understand what truly makes each of them feel valued. Caring for those entrusted to you by caring for them the way YOU want to be cared for, is not very productive, or very Christ like. Jesus cared for everyone he came in contact with differently based on THEIR needs, especially the Apostles (the twelve he spent the most time with). My experience is that when people feel truly valued, even when you have to be tough with them, they will be more willing to sacrifice for and buy into the cause. They will also be way more productive because the work you are having them do is not a “Wild Goose Chase”, but something you believe in, much like you believe in them.

#2 Pick well and make the long-term investment.

 There is so much going around these days about “Mentoring” and “Apprenticing”. Both are things I have done for years and believe in strongly. But, I only mentor a small group and I apprentice an even smaller group.

I have a small tribe of young leaders that I mentor, meeting with them for Starbucks or lunch and walk through things that are on THEIR mind, doing a lot of listening, praying, and just being with them.

I apprentice only two who have been hand picked, knowing that I will make a long-term investment in them. Apprenticing, at least in the tech world, takes time, a lot of time. But I feel that I have made good choices and that the two young men I am apprenticing at the moment are well worth the effort. I am working myself out of a job by apprenticing and my apprentices make the journey well worth it.

As I move through my career both on tech and ministry, I have found the most joy in mentoring and apprenticing. I think you might find that as well.

#3 Have a plan.

Below are some of the things I try to do as I bring up young leaders.

1. Take them to Starbucks and get to know them. Relationships are king.

2. Drag them out of their world and into yours. Introduce them to those you know. Take them to trade shows and events.
Expand their view past your organization. Let them know about the bigger world you live in.

3. Give them responsibilities in a safe environment and let them fail.

4. Debrief their failures and successes. Find out what they did and what they learned.

5. Give them limited responsibility over others and talk about it often.

6. Give them achievable goals and keep tabs on them.

7. Let them see you fail and handle it.

8. Celebrate with them.

9. Let them go.

I am sure there are hundreds of variations on these steps. A few crazy leaders saw something in me when I was young and did these very things. I have in turn done the same with those that have been put in my path.

#4 Work yourself out of a job.

Prepare your people to either replace you or become you somewhere else.

Rick Warren has said many times that he does not want Saddleback Church to be judged on it’s “seating capacity” but it’s “sending capacity”.

I believe that is also true of how you lead and raise up your people. Over my life time I have had the privilege of training up a large group of techs and leaders. I have always had one goal, to get them on the road to surpassing me in what ever we were doing. One of my mentors and friends, Pete Tessitore (R.I.P), helped me learn what true legacy is. As we installed sound systems in dozens of churches in the early 1990s he let me know that our legacy was with each church. From the moment those systems were commissioned we had a part in every life changed, every baptism, every salvation, every wedding, and every one of God’s Words spoken through those speakers. I never forgot that.

It is the same with people. Train up and mentor your people with the knowledge that they are your legacy. Every thing you pour into them, is not in vain and it will become part of them, good and bad. I have had both success and failure in this, but I never give up. I want all the people that I lead, train, and mentor to go on and do things on a scale that I never will. And when they do, I celebrate it.

Many of the young techs that I had the pleasure of working with have gone on to other organizations and have become ROCK STARS in their own right, far surpassing anything I will accomplish. I am not just hoping for that, I am counting on it.

Finding your success in those that your have influenced will give you the ultimate satisfaction and, I believe, makes God smile.

Building Leaders











One of my passions is raising up young leaders, helping them to find not only their vocational gifts but also their God-given ministry gifts. I have had the honor to help raise up many young leaders in and out of the tech realm. Many of these leaders have gone on to great things and will be far better leaders that I could ever hope to achieve.

The double-edged sword of raising up leaders to leave and lead is, well, THEY MAY LEAVE! The goal of pouring into them is not to keep them but to send them. Sometimes that means they will go off and become “you” somewhere else, other times it’s merely to further their growth. You may have taken them as far as you can or they have just plain out grown the position that is available for them in your organization.

The “Myth” of raising up leaders is that you can accomplish it in bulk. Many leadership books can put the “fear-of-God” into you and lead you to believe that if you are not raising up twenty people to greatness right now you are a failure. The truth is that even Jesus only had 12, one of which went rogue (as if Jesus didn’t know that would happen), but he really only focused his true energy on Peter, John, and James.

Partnering with others to raise up leaders is a must. I really does take a village (thanks Hillary) to raise up great leaders, you CAN’T do it alone. Young leaders are being influenced, positively and negatively, by everyone they come in contact with. By intentionally partnering with the “influencers” in that person’s life, you can build a community that will make a greater impact than you could ever do on your own. The first true leader I raised up at South Hills, Marvin Sinson, ended up as my ATD for almost five years. Marvin is the polar opposite of me, personality and gifting wise, but shares my passion for building and shaping young leaders. One of the benefits of focusing on only a select few makes the process more intense. This intensity will produce both results and passion in them.

Results will be easy to spot. The one way to know if you are raising up leaders is that THEY are raising up and pouring into other potential leaders. It is contagious, they can’t help it and that is the whole point. Marvin, in turn, help me raise up Brent Allan, who came into our ministry at 16. The passion to raise up leaders I imparted to Marvin was passed on to Brent, who raised up others. Although we have all gone on to other ministries, that passion will continue to raise up leaders in now not one, but three organizations. 

The Legacy of building leaders is that they will go on to greater things and influence way more people that I will never have the opportunity to. The leadership DNA that is imprinted on Marvin, as well as many others, can be traced back to those in my life who have impacted me. Men like Ken Robertson, Stan Endicott, Bill Richardson, Pete Tessitore, Dave Burdett, and Jim Lisby, just to name a few, have had (and some continue to have) an enormous impact, through me, on those that I influence everyday. That is their legacy, they are touching people they may never meet and that is awesome.

We get to do this!

Pictured above: Marvin Sinson (ATD @ Eastside Church Anaheim, CA)  , Brent Allan (LD @ Northland Church, Orlando, FL), Van Metschke ( Proud Papa )