Monday, September 22, 2014

Authority, Responsibility, & Resources

Our church, East Hills Alliance, is going through a lot of exciting changes these days, as we launch our second campus this fall. It has been such a welcomed growing experience for me especially as it is bringing changes to my role as a leader. The way we’ve set up the structure of our ministry is to be one church in two locations. Each ministry at the new campus has designated a volunteer as “campus leader” for that ministry. For example, in the worship ministry we have a “campus worship leader” and a “campus tech leader” and I work closely with both of them. The idea is that church staff will be in charge of the vision and casting that vision to the campus leaders. Then the campus leaders have the authority to carry out the vision.

I’m finding that I’m the type of person who likes to do things myself and this is not the best quality in a leader! However, I am also finding the joy that a leader discovers when they cast vision and give authority to others and see them succeed. As I’m in the process of learning these skills, I’ve been challenged to know where to draw the lines between vision casting and authority. What decisions to let others make and when to help make the decisions. When and how much to guide the process.

As I’ve been wrestling with this I was recently reminded of a leadership principle from Brad Lomenick. The principle says to have, “clear lines of authority distributed throughout the organization, and always directly connected to responsibility AND authority”. As I think about this I could really see how authority responsibility need to be linked. If a leader is given the responsibility to do a job but not the authority, the task will be cumbersome, and the leader will have a hard time being successful.

We can illustrate this with an imaginary scenario. Let’s say that a superior tasks a leader that works under her with planning a weekend retreat for volunteers. The superior gives the leader responsibility to plan the event, but undermines the leader’s authority. The leader decides that the event will run from 9am - 3pm on Saturday. But, because he doesn’t feel he has authority to set the times of the event, he checks with his boss. She decides that 9am is too early and changes the time to 10am - 4pm. When he tells her who he is planning to have cater the lunch, she tells him that she had already called a friend of hers and asked that she cater the lunch. In this situation, we can see how the micromanaging from the superior will cause him to feel frustrated and the superior ends up doing much of the work even though the responsibility for the event was given to the leader. The problem, that in this case manifested itself as micromanaging, is that the leader was not allowed to hold the authority along with the responsibility.

Similarly the opposite can be just as troublesome. If the leader is given the authority to carry out a task but not the responsibility the task may not even get done at all. This type of scenario may be less common since we generally tend to hand out jobs or tasks in terms of responsibility rather than in terms of authority. For instance, job descriptions usually say, “will be responsible for…” rather than, “will have authority to do…” However, it is not impossible to believe that giving out authority without responsibility can be a problem.

We can illustrate this with the same imaginary scenario as before: A superior wants to task a leader working under her with planning a weekend event for volunteers. The superior tells the leader, “The volunteers will look to you for times when they can get away and grow together as a group. You are the person who has the authority to plan and lead such events”. Such a statement gives the leader the authority to lead the event, but it does not communicate that it is the leader’s responsibility to do so. Unless the leader feels a sense of responsibility for such an event from within himself, the event will probably not happen. If the superior expects that the event will take place then responsibility for the event must be communicated along with the authority.

As I think about these things it is so clear to me that authority and responsibility go hand in hand. They are so linked that it is difficult to think about how to unlink them, and still succeed.  

However, I think there is one more thing that if it is missing from the authority and responsibility relationship will make a leader’s success difficult. That thing is “resources”. It does no good to give a leader authority and responsibility if they do not have the resources to carry it out. Some resources that we must be careful to give could include, money, training, time, equipment etc. To make use once again of the example we’ve used above, it does no good to expect that the leader would plan and host a weekend retreat complete with a catered lunch if there is no budgeted money made available to the leader’s use.

As leaders who lead other leaders, we must always link authority with the responsibility and ensure that the leader has the resources needed to be successful.

Some questions to think about: (or discuss in the comment section)

In the example we’ve used, we saw how micromanaging, or taking on responsibility that should have been given away, robbed the leader of authority. What other ways do we hamper our leaders from having the authority, they need in order to be successful?

Where does authority come from?

What if a leader doesn’t feel the sense of authority? How can we help them to own it?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An Audio Tool I Can't Go Without

Hey everyone! I thought I'd take a minute and talk about an audio tool that I have used for quite a while but have recently found I really can't go without!

These days, I don't get too many chances to work behind the sound board for a live event, but when I do, I really enjoy it. Recently, I ran sound for a wedding. The tech requirements were pretty simple, there were no live instruments or vocalists, just the preacher, a handheld mic for the vows, a slideshow, and I was given a couple cd's with mp3's to be used during the wedding marches (wedding marches? is that what you call them in these modern times??). Anyway, it was all pretty much the usual requirements. 

Even though all these things were pretty simple, one thing I hate doing is trying to juggle fader levels and cd's in and out of a cd player. So I always load the songs into my computer. But even then, running songs in iTunes can be a little bit clunky because you are still managing a fader and then starting and stopping songs with the computer (I know.. I know... that's not that hard, get over it,  right?) Well, there has to be a better way. 

And there is!

This is where the audio tool I told you I'd talk about comes in: "Qlab". 

Qlab is great because you load in all your media. It can handle audio and video files, or even a live video feed. You then build into your project all the cues that you need. These cues can be things like; fade in or out, stops, starts, loops, wait "x" seconds and then start - you name it. Pretty much whatever you can imagine. Then once everything is programed in, you just have a big "GO" button. And each cue you have preset is fired from this one button. You can see this makes it great for weddings or live events where you need to start and stop media at very specific times with smooth transitions in between. And you can see how it can really take the pressure off! And, since it can trigger media to play on top of other media it is perfect for triggering sound effects for more complex shows such as a theatrical productions.

Furthermore, Qlab is so customisable. You can make any keyboard key you'd like become the key that commands the "GO" button. Because of this feature, I've often used it from the stage to trigger a click track or stems from my usb foot pedal. It isn't as nice as say, Ableton Live, for this sort of thing but it's simple and it works!

Best of all. Qlab is a free download. There is a full version that can be purchased but I've never needed anything but the free software. On the down side it is only for that really a down side?  So with all that said, if you use a mac and run sound for live events, I believe you should be using Qlab. Check it out here:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why UPS Is Better Than Santa Claus

I love when I see a UPS truck making deliveries (or fedex etc.). Even if I know it isn't coming to deliver something to me, I still get warm fuzzy feelings. I get these feelings because I know that somebody somewhere, most likely a lot of people, are having a good day. They are getting their dreams delivered to them. That's right, the UPS truck delivers people's dreams.
I got thinking, the UPS delivery driver is a lot like Santa Claus. They are similar in many ways: both deliver packages; both wear uniforms. I'm sure they both like hot cocoa. But, I think the UPS driver is better. Here are my top reasons why the UPS driver is better than Santa:
  • The UPS driver doesn't eat your cookies
  • The UPS driver doesn't sneak around inside your house at night
  • For that matter, the UPS driver stays off your roof and out of your chimney
  • The UPS driver delivers all year round
  • The UPS driver brings you exactly what you want, every time.
  • Lastly, please guard your children's ears... the UPS delivery driver is real

Lately, I was thinking about how good God is to us. How He has always taken care of me, even when things are hard. Even when He doesn't give me what I want (unlike the UPS driver). He always gives me what I need. Looking back I can see that His plan, giving me what I need over what I want, has been better.
Matthew 7:7-11 tells us to pray and to keep asking God for things. It goes on to say that God is like a good parent who doesn't give his child a stone if the child asks for bread. It is so true that God is like that. He seeks to give good gifts to His children. He is our provider and does care for us.
In troubled times it can be difficult to see this truth. In some situations we may never, in this life, understand His ways or why He allows some of the things he allows. It can feel this way because He does give us what is best, from His all-knowing perspective, and not just want we want or what we can see as best. In these times we can seek after Him, depending on His character, and practice placing trust in what we believe to be true. We trust in what God has revealed to us about Himself. He is good and perfect. He desires that we have abundant life, and He will take care of us. Just as a good father takes good care of his children - only more so. Abundantly more so.

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." (James 1:17 NLT)
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Almost Awkward Bike Ride

My wife and I recently moved from Minnesota to the North West. We've been here for a little over two months now, and we like it a lot. One thing that I really love is driving through Portland. I've always really liked visiting big cities, mostly because of the architecture. Portland is really cool because of the massive bridges and the twisted mess of roads that are fun to explore, even though they can be difficult to navigate for someone like me, who grew up with the open highway of Montana (no plural on "highway" because we really only had one).
A couple of weeks ago I had to pick my wife up from the Portland airport. I had some extra time, so I decided to go down early and explore downtown Portland on my bike. Bike riding has become a hobby of mine and I hear Portland is super bike friendly, so I was excited.
I circled waterfront park a couple of times in my car, found a good parking spot, and headed out on my adventure. I wasn't out of my car 10 minutes before I was invited to participate in the next "naked bike ride". "It's what we do here", the portland native assured me.
This caught me well off guard but,
I managed to mumble something about how I wouldn't be interested, and that "I'm not even from here". I had a short nervous ride after that.

Apparently, the naked bike ride had taken place the night before. Which caused me to wonder,  what if I had come up a day earlier for my bike ride? I could have been riding my bike, minding my own business, turn a corner, and find myself engulfed in a herd of naked people on bikes. And there I would be in the middle of all that; red faced, confused, and fully clothed. Or, what would have happened if I was biking at a leisurely pace and they all road up behind me? (I would imagine naked people bike fast) This is a scenario that I'm sure could happen all too easily if one chooses the wrong day to go on a bike ride in Portland, Oregon.  
Well, all this is to say that the people of Portland intimidate me. And, I suppose one should check the local community calendar before visiting.
Looking back, I wish I would have said that I'd love to participate in the event, but I can't, because I wouldn't know what to wear.
People sure do some crazy things in order to throw off all restraint and "be free". I've been noticing lately how the old nature of my own heart often resists being controlled or submitting to authority. A mentor of mine told me once that we all have something inside of us that wants to scream, "I will not be controlled". However, true freedom comes with restraint.
Driving would be a mess without traffic laws. If people could drive on whatever side of the road they wished or pull out into intersections whenever they wanted, it would be difficult for anyone to get anywhere (especially in cities like Portland). But, with rules and order to govern the roads we are free to go anywhere our cars will take us.
Similarly, when we surrender to Jesus and follow him with undivided obedience, we are truly free. We are free to join in what God is doing and we suddenly become very useful to Him. What a blessing it is to be able to participate in the work God is doing. As our Lead Pastor at East Hills Alliance Church said in his message last weekend, "the person most surrendered to God's complete control is the most free".
Take a listen to that message by clicking here, if you'd like:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Learning about Leadership

Lately I’ve been on this leadership kick. It’s been a lot of fun learning more about this topic and trying to apply it. God has really been teaching me much and he’s been doing it through some great resources. I’ve been so excited about these resources and things I’m learning that I thought I better share it with someone! So here it is, if you are a leader (and all of us are at some level) then I encourage you to check these out:

Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast: He only posts one a month but as a friend of mine described them, they are “pure gold”.

Follow Tony Morgan on twitter: @tonymorganlive or his wesite: 
Tony posts a lot of really short articles and blogs with great leadership advice. Often his main ideas are short and concise bullet points. They are easy to understand and solid. He has a short book called “The Leisure Suit” that I highly recommend.

Catalyst Podcast – Sometimes I fast forward to the interviews, but I’ve really enjoyed listening to great leaders and forward thinkers talk about what they have done. Not all of the things they do will work for you, but let their though process and strategic poise rub off.

Ravi Zacharias Podcasts: Let My People Think and Just Thinking Not leadership podcasts but great stuff on apologetics and I’ve found that his solid logic and reasoning skills are actually really important for leaders, so let the way he thinks rub off on you.

Well that’s pretty much it for now. What resources have you found helpful in the things you are learning?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Doorstep Conversations

     Today a couple of missionaries from the Watchtower Society stopped by my house. We talked for a bit on my doorstep, but mostly, I found myself in a similar situation as past doorstep conversations. I felt unprepared to talk with them about my faith in relation to theirs. I wished that I could remember some of the details of past research, and articulate my biggest concerns. However, I know that even if I had remembered all kinds of documented quotations and logical arguments, we probably would have just gone back and forth with me explaining my perspective on Scripture and they theirs. Also, if neither of us are Greek scholars (I certainly am not) our conversation about John 1:1 or correct translations of Scriptures would basically boil down to, “the scholars I know of say this” and, “the scholars I know of say this”.

     To make a long story short, I dug up some information I had filed away, and came up with 3 questions I feel would need to be answered in order to have a meaningful discussion with people of the Watchtower Society. I’m hoping to have this handy in the future and invite any Jehovah’s Witnesses to engage in a discussion on these topics. The answers to these questions will probably require some research and so I plan to include my email address and trade my "hand-out" for theirs, inviting them to contact me with the answers. Maybe then, we could meet and have discussion about them.

     Below are my 3 questions. Maybe they will be helpful for you too, when you have these doorstep conversations. Feel free to comment and let me know what other information has been helpful for you in answering for your faith. If you are a member of the Watchtower Society, these questions I have are real. Although, I suspect to know what the answers may be, I do not have the resources to answer all of them credibly for myself, and would like to know your thoughts:

     One last thing before I post my questions. In order to be fair I figured I should know the answers to the questions if they were asked of me. Therefore, the answer to question number 2 can be found here & here concerning the ESV Bible, which is what I have been reading lately.

Below are three big concerns I have about the Watchtower Organization. They are listed in what I feel are order of importance (if #1 is not reconciled I will have more trouble with # 2 and so on.)

1. I feel that the Watchtower organization is untrustworthy because I’ve heard of some sketchy prophesies it has made (see post script). Is it true that the Watchtower organization has said these things?

2. Because of differences in the NWT and the Bible translations I read and have been taught from, I have a hard time putting trust in the NWT. Who are the people that have worked on the NWT? Are they credible? What are their credentials?
3. I have trouble understanding how the Watchtower’s view of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are consistent with how God is revealed in Scripture. For example: assuming the correct translation of John 1:1 says that Jesus is “a god” how does that reconcile with Scriptures such as Isaiah 44:6? Even though it is a hard doctrine and a paradox, I believe that in the whole of Scripture God has revealed Himself to be one God existing in three persons (i.e. One God: Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiahh 44:6 - Jesus is God: John 1:1, Philippians 2:6, I John 5:20 - the Holy Spirit is God: Acts 5:3-4, Hebrews 3:7-11)

Post Script:

1897 "Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 4, page 621.

1899 "...the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced." The Time Is at Hand, page 101 (1908 edition).

1916 "The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873." The Time Is at Hand, page ii, (forward).

1918 "Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection." Millions Now Living Will Never Die, page 89.

1968 "True, there have been those in times past who predicted an ‘end to the world', even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The ‘end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing?.. Missing from such people were God's truths and evidence that he was using and guiding them." Awake, 10/8/68.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Psalm 1 says the following about a person who is blessed by God:
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
One of the most meaningful things to me, from this verse, is that the tree goes through fruitless seasons. As I read this I can remember many times when I have felt absolutely useless. I remember one time in particular, when I really felt like I had no visible way to accomplish the dreams that I felt God had put into me. It was truly a very miserable time. This verse was something that I clung to. It helped me to hang on and trust that God was working. It helped me to embrace the season of waiting, even as miserable as it was. Not that I came to enjoy it or anything or anything like that, but I came to endure, and eventually God did bring new seasons. 
Even since this particular season that I’ve described, I have continued to go through others like it. I anticipate that there will be many more to come. But, the good news is that seasons are okay! We don’t have to add to our misery by getting down on ourselves for not bearing fruit in a time like this. It’s the way things go for trees, and when we trust God we too will go through them. Another interesting thing about this verse is that is says, “In all that he does, he prospers.” Wait, what about the season when he doesn’t bear fruit? How does he prosper then? Apparently, there is a way.
When I graduated from college one of my professors let each of his students pick one of his paintings as a gift. I chose one called, “The Pruned Vine”. And as you may have guessed it depicts a vine that has been pruned. It looks dead, cold, twisted, and dead. I like this painting because it reminds me that there are season to life. Just like the vine we go through fruitless times in order to make us more fruitful when the time for harvest comes. 
Even in the times of waiting we can prosper. We can choose to endure well, lean into the Lord and let the roots of the lessons that he is teaching us, grow deep. The next season will come. When we find ourselves being unfruitful, it may be that the Lord is pruning us. Let’s embrace these seasons as such, and when the correct season comes we will bear fruit.