"Lots of organizations go through this analysis. How do you leverage your brand or your customer base to get to the next level, to enter new markets or new technologies--and do it while running your old business. And almost without exception, organizations are run by people who want to protect the old business, not develop the new one.
When you think about your business, realize that it is a combination of assets and constraints. The Times understood both, but suddenly, the constraints changed. Now, it's possible for a single individual with a Typepad account to reach more people than almost any newspaper in the country can. Loosen one constraint and the game changes. That leaves you with the assets, for a while anyway.
When in pain, the answer is not to pander to the masses and undo the very things that made you special."
I pulled this quote from a recent Seth Godin post and felt that I could assess CCC similarly. Like the Times, our organization is caught in a season of deciding whether to protect the old or develop the new. Because the power to change the organization is constrained to a very small percentage of the organization, most of whom seek to protect the old, the only thing that has been changing is the language of our organization, not our actions.
I believe that a significant power redistribution must happen for CCC to significantly move forward in manifesting our vision on the college campus and in the lives of our staff. Most simply, more authentic power needs to be distributed downwardly toward the local level. Those leading individual campuses must have a genuine voice at the table where organizational decisions are made. I also believe we must sub-divide our various regions (currently there are 10 or 11, I would vote for 25-30 new regions), where local leaders would participate in direction setting, and would be listened to rather than spoken to by our national leaders.
Our regions (and country for that matter) has become significantly more diverse both culturally and religiously. No longer can a small group of national leaders discern the unique needs of the various parts of the country by offering general vision and direction. What's needed is specific and contextualized empowerment that will allow leaders on the field who can see the needs but lack the power to significantly tackle them a new platform to not only lead but be served by our vast resources, rather than serve them.
Our Regional Conference wrapped up on Sunday, and I've had an 8 hour car ride to reflect on the time. Here are a few things I noticed:
If I could pick one of these three things to dramatically change, I would choose a lack of common language. I believe that if all 150 or so staff could share some common terms and phrases that connect with our hearts and align us to the mission, we could be inspired to step out in faith dramatically. It would also foster trust and build commitment to one another and the mission, especially as we know that every staff is thinking and talking in a certain way.
In a divinely orchestrated manner, I connected with Brian, an elder of a church in Tennessee. He led the process of putting together a personal development plan for the senior pastor of his church. The conversation inspired me for a variety of reasons, but as he informed me of the name of the plan (Pete's Permission Plan), I could not stop thinking about the word permission, and all of its implications.
Brian shared that his guiding philosophy in developing Pete was permission--telling Pete what he could do rather than what he HAD to do. Orientating his development around freedom of choice and empowerment, rather than command and control, encouraged my heart.
So much of development in my experience has been about setting a particular bar that everyone strives to reach. Although accountability and focus are important, the underlying motive is not permission. What's most disappointing about this approach is that it excludes the part of one's soul that loves and enjoys his work. It also passively implies failure as well as that more is required than what is currently being given.
It's no wonder that so many in ministry are bad tired; in my experience there is good tired and bad tired:
Although this shift may be perceived as slight on the surface, I believe on a heart level that this can profoundly impact and encourage those in ministry. I cannot imagine the change in attitude and output in CCC staff who sincerely functioned out a permission mindset, rather than a striving/performance mentality.
I actually just finished a conversation with 4 staff, 2 of whom were deeply wrestling with this very issue. I'm guessing that over half of our 150 staff in our region deal with this as well.
I'm fascinated by the dynamics that influenced our current financial meltdown. Via Twitter I have come across quite a few articles that absolutely scare and astound me.
I'm humbled by the general parallels between the root problem of the financial crisis and my life last year--borrowing on the future to the extreme. Last year I borrowed heavily on my future resources of time and energy in order to fulfill responsibilities that were not unnecessary. It cost me dearly as I was more burned out than I have ever been, and came close to a significant personal meltdown.
This is a long article, but extremely sobering to see first hand what went on to contribute to this mess. Here's a particularly chilling quote:
"Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking homeowners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000."
It seems like in so many ways our culture has overextended itself to the point of near no return. How have you seen this play out?
I found this chart from a blog I follow, Justin Blanton. I'm picturing how much time and energy he has had to spend to keep up with the influx of email. I want to call email management the silent killer of leadership and motivation. Although more communication is done over email, I still spend more time managing my email than I want to. I would be curious to see if the next 2 or 3 years see a linear or exponential increase. Or perhaps someone will come up with a new means of communicating that will be dramatically more inefficient than email. Yeah, and monkeys will fly out of my butt :)
"The elders of my church have been working with me recently to help assure I’m leading out of my strengths. Their desire is to help me be successful at what I feel God’s called me to do.
In the process of putting together this 3 year plan they interviewed 20 of the closest people I work with and do life with here at Cross Point. One of the questions they asked was,
“What does Pete need in order to be the pastor at CP for 20+ years”
I thought this was a great question for several reasons, but for me personally it was huge. It communicated to me that they “want me”. That… I’m needed…. what I do matters… my gifts and abilities are valuable to the church now and into the future."
"Why did that strategy work? This is the great mystery of Weinberg’s career, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Carnegie was on to something: there are times when being an outsider is precisely what makes you a good insider. It’s not difficult to imagine, for example, that the head of Continental Can liked the fact that Weinberg was from nothing, in the same way that New York City employers preferred country boys to city boys. That C.E.O. dwelled in a world with lots of people who went to Yale and then to Wall Street; he knew that some of them were good at what they did and some of them were just well connected, and separating the able from the incompetent wasn’t always easy. Weinberg made it out of Brooklyn; how could he not be good?
That he felt free to deliver the rebuke in the first place is testament
to his sociological position. You can’t tell the chairman of General
Foods that he’s an idiot if you were his classmate at Yale. But you can
if you’re Pincus Weinberg’s son from Brooklyn. Truthtelling is easier
from a position of cultural distance."--Malcom Gladwell, from a recent article in the New Yorker.
Thought this was a great quote that parallels the role of a biblical prophet and how the Lord redemptively uses being on the outside to produce internal change. Although frustrating and discouraging at times, I have seen how God uses my childhood and teenage years as an outsider in my family and in school redemptively in ministry. The rest of the article is definitely worth a skim, as it surfaces how a seemingly 'negative' social characteristic can be powerfully redeemed.
I love considering how God redeemed Moses' life experiences as an outsider of Israel growing up in Pharaoh's court, AND then redeemed his experiences as an insider of Israel by making him an outsider to Israel by means of his leadership call and privilege of conversing with God face to face.
Today our staff team explored part of Nehemiah 4 that talks about how Nehemiah responded to the threats to building the wall. I heard an insightful message from Mark Driscoll on his podcast that inspired me to discuss it as a team.
We spent significant time discussing verse 8:
"And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built."
Although Nehemiah redistributed builders to protect the wall full time, those building still carried their sword. The thought that each of us agreed we often have is this:
I often think or demand that ministry happen without the sword. It's either an idealistic perception that ministry should be free from threats, or a belief that because I am doing ministry, I have a pain or trouble free card from God.
In my staff career I have still not admitted to myself that this is a reality and constant as long as I am in ministry. Because of that, I find myself becoming extra-frustrated or discouraged when the sword is required--particularly when the sword is needed to defend myself or my ministry from other Christian ministries. The 'betrayal' factor resonates deeply within me.
Two responses that I see as part of growing in this area:
I have a strong desire to see things change and redeemed but can easily allow that desire to become an unhealthy and unreasonable demand on God and others.
"Motivating the committed outperforms persuading the uncommitted. The unheralded success factor of Obama's campaign is the get out the vote effort. Every marketer can learn from this. It's easier (far easier) to motivate the slightly motivated than it is to argue with those that either ignore you or are predisposed to not like you."--from a recent post by Seth Godin.
Last week our staff team decided to invest 80% of our campus funds toward scholarships for our annual Winter Conference. This money is dedicated to new members of our movement, highly excited about Campus Crusade but unfamiliar with its mission, vision, and values.
Saving for the future and next year's students was the greatest opposing factor in our decision. As we thought about how much do we want to spend on scholarships, the indirect question we were asking was, "How much do we want to save for next year's students?"
Godin's quote reflects the principle that ultimately swayed us to invest our money in our present students. We decided that it was better to make those who are warm to Campus Crusade warmer than those who were cold to Campus Crusade slightly less cold. Our hope is that by making the warm warmer, we will eventually affect more cold people than if we intentionally targeted them.
It seems that there is much to be discerned though in investing in the warm. Investing in the warm in quantity is not as important as investing in the warm in quality--what one is doing with them is much more important than just doing something with them. Our Winter Conference aligns and exposes our students to Campus Crusade's mission, vision, and values more than anything else within the school year.
What I'm learning as well is that the content of the conference is not as important as the experience of the conference. Going together, talking in the car on the way to and from the conference, meals, all the in between stuff binds students together in powerful and often unmeasurable ways.
Although we have chosen to make ourselves less effective in directly targeting cold students for next year, we have also chosen to make our current group of students more effective in influencing cold students with their lives.