28 Sep The Power Of TEAM! Confessions of a Control Freak…

My set design for the month of September was not created by a team. I did that one all by myself and it wasn’t much fun! That is what prompted this post. I hope what I learned that last week of August, will help you avoid the same pitfalls.

The “Night Shift”

rm_09_30_headerAs you probably already know, most volunteers in church world, work full-time day jobs, so they aren’t readily available during the day. Yes, there are some stay-at-home moms who can come in during the day to help, but the majority of volunteers at our church can usually only work at night.

Working at night has always been a struggle for me personally. First of all, I’m a morning person – so I don’t love to work in the evening. Second, I had been a stay-at-home mom for 18 years prior to going on staff at Community Christian Church two years ago. Evenings were already full enough – with school events, sports, dinner prep, etc. – so for years, I tried to do most of my work during the day. The problem is that not everyone else could do that. That left most of our set design and construction to me if I only worked during the day. I confess, I never minded this because: a) I’m a terrible control freak and I like things done a certain way (if I was the only one working on the set, I was sure to have it done the way I wanted) and b) creating environments is a great outlet for me and one of the things I like best about my job, so I always enjoyed my time working alone on the set.

Working Alone Doesn’t Do You or Your Ministry Any Favors

This “working alone” thing began to take it’s toll. The element of my job that I loved the most (creating environments and designing sets) began to become quite a chore and I knew I couldn’t sustain this pace. In addition, I realized over the years that I wasn’t doing our church, or the ministry I lead any favors by not delegating and empowering others. Leadership is not something you do alone. I know – duh – but honestly, I could “say” I was leading an elementary ministry for years – when really I was working alone [aka – not leading at all] on many aspects of it. I knew I had to find a way to work at night from time to time in order to build a team and raise up leaders.

You’re Logging the Hours Somewhere

yiogBMBiEOne thing that helped me finally make the jump to scheduling evening hours was to think through the extra hours I was working on set design because I was doing it alone. I realized that I could continue to work alone during the day and log in all of these hours, or I could trade those hours for hours in the evening. I pushed back for a long time about evening hours. I was so afraid of what it might do to my family time, but realized in the long run – I was logging those hours somewhere and my family time was already being impacted. It was just during the day or through my exhaustion of carrying it alone. So, I decided to organize my time a little better (well the jury is still out on that part) and actually scheduled evenings to work with a team. My hope was that if I worked during the evening with a team – I’d be more efficient overall and eventually work less hours, being able to give more hours to my family. As the old saying goes – “Many hands make light work.” In addition, the benefit of raising up other leaders was becoming more and more important to me. And so it began. I started asking for volunteers to work with me at night on set design elements. It started small for me as I began to schedule evening work nights for set construction about one night per month.

***TIP *** – When my children were still home (they are both in college now – so the “night shifts” are much easier to manage), I tried to schedule my work nights at times when I knew my husband would be in town (he travels a lot for his job). It was always something we tried to make into a date night for him and our girls… maybe sushi for dinner (yuck- I don’t like sushi anyway, so it was perfect for me) or dinner at home with a trip for ice cream or something fun. If he had to be out of town, the invitation for my girls to partake in my work night was always open. I confess that I often bribed them to come help, with the promise of Chick-Fil-A for dinner or a trip to Starbucks on our way home. They were good sports about it and often joined me. These were some of my favorite nights with my girls. Driving in the car together, working and serving together, and watching them interact with the other volunteers at our church, have become marker moments in my life as a mom.

Who Knew? TEAM is better than just me!

I hope you read the sarcasm in that heading, but in case you missed it… I realized something amazing as I began to get a team together to work on our sets. It was always better than when I was working on it alone. I know you might be laughing thinking – well of course! But, this was something I had to see happen before I fully realized the power of a TEAM.

Now, I will say – working with a team involves a lot of preparation and being ahead of the game. I’m not so good at that. You can read all about my issues with procrastination here.  I am trying to stay ahead, and delegate, and manage my time well. When I do actually do these things – I get to see the power of TEAM! Here are a few things I’ve learned from creating teams and making time to develop others to lead:

  • I love working with other people, as they bring so much more to the table than I could ever bring alone. Great ideas, expertise, and a lightened work load to name a few.
  • I love the community I get to build (and be a part of) as I work with a team.
  • I love to see leaders rise up out of these work nights, as people share and work together.
  • I get to see God use the gifts He’s entrusted to others be used in big ways for His Kingdom. Who am I to squelch that by thinking I could do it alone?

Nick Blevins wrote a terrific post about this aspect of leadership. Check it out here.

Addicted to TEAM!

schedule1Now, I have to say, I’m addicted to working with a team! I used to feel guilty asking people to help with things. I thought, “I can’t do that-everyone already has enough on their plate,” or “I might seem lazy if I’m always asking for help.” And then, there was that awful control freak thing I’ve mentioned already. But, I’ve realized as I’ve began implementing teams in various aspects of leadership over the past year (and empowered people to lead), that I want to do this in every part of my ministry. Not just set design.

Now, in addition to set construction work nights, I also have started scheduling meetings with key volunteers at night for other aspects of ministry. I meet with our small group leader coaches at night, schedule event planning-work nights, and will begin to schedule one-on-one meetings with potential volunteers. I am in a different season of my life with my kids being away at college, but I still want to protect my schedule and my time with my husband, so I am trying to keep boundaries in place as I schedule things at night. Before, I scheduled work nights when I knew my husband was home for our girls. Now, I try to schedule work nights when I know my husband is traveling so it doesn’t impact our time together.

Getting Out of the Way!

Empowering others to lead and inviting people into what you do, will not only help you sustain your pace in ministry, but it will also give the leaders you bring into the process a chance to see what God has in store for them. Before, I was hesitant to ask for help and would just do things in my own timing. Now, I’ve shifted gears, created some space to lead at night (when most volunteers are available) and am just trying to get out of the way of what God is doing with the leaders He’s bringing to the table!

I am grateful for this lesson in leadership. It may seem elementary to many of you, but for this control freak, it was hard to let go of the reigns. Now, I find myself constantly asking “Who can I get to help me with this? or “Who can I hand this off to?” I love handing the reigns to potential leaders and helping them steer until they can steer on their own. This year – my goal is to rise up a project manager for set construction. Someone who will oversee all aspects of creating the environment – from shopping for materials, to construction of any larger elements, to painting, etc. I will be involved in the concept and ideas behind what we do, but hopefully someone else will be leading a team to execute it. It will be hard for me to step aside on this, but I know God has someone out there who needs to use their gifts and will probably do it way better than I have! Can’t wait to see who He brings along.

How about you? Do you have a team to help with set design? How do you work through this process?