Why Teams Always Do Things Better

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There’s an old adage:

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

I’m pretty sure there’s another one. At least there is for me:

Anything worth doing well is worth doing as a team.

And maybe better still:

Anything you want to do well, you’d better do with a team.

Last night, the team pictured above rallied to put on one heck of a show at Indian River High—the largest campus in our county. The event was one of our youth ministry’s LIFTED events, which mixes music, worship, drama, dance and video to support a Gospel message, concluding with an invitation to accept Jesus.

Here are a few reasons I resist doing things without a team:

They’re Smarter Than I Am

When things go wrong and systems fail, I want to be around people that are smarter than me. Or, at the very least, will look at things with different eyes. This allows problems to be treated with new solutions that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

We had a few unforeseen system integration audio issues during set up last night; work arounds came much faster because ideas were shared quickly and freely. We checked one another’s work and talked through some of the more complex signal paths. Because the teams trust each other and are not threatened, even people not on the audio crew were getting involved and doing their best to serve and troubleshoot.

Humor

When the pressure gets high, you need people around you who can make you laugh. The only other release for pressure tends to be rather destructive: you allow it to mount until you snap. And people or things usually get hurt.

Keeping things fun, even in highly stressful scenarios (and I’d argue especially in highly stressful scenarios) is absolutely critical. Dedicated, hard working people who have a lighter side, and know when to augment situational tension with a bit of levity are crucial for letting teams reset and keep things in perspective.

Humor is also a great way for you as a leader to let your team know you’re not drowning in frustrations when things go wrong. At one moment last night when things were especially difficult, I just decided to start dancing. No music. No beat. Just my moves (which are in themselves hilariously pitiful). It made people laugh and reminded us all to keep the main thing the main thing—our core message: we’re here to share the Good News of Jesus with teens.

Ownership

At the end of the day, saying, “I did all that,” gets rather boring. Not because you’re suffering from a lack of ideas, but because you have no one to share it with.

Doing things together means more people are taking pride in what’s happening. And people that do things together end up building stronger bonds because of the process.

This sense of community not only makes the end product more vivid and colorful, but it’s essential in spreading whatever core message you’re attempting to promote.

•••

Doing things as a team says to history, “We were here. We had something so important to say that we needed many voices to say it with.”

May history never forget us and the future never forsake us.

What are some of the favorite teams you ever worked with? What made them special?

ch:

Up To Date

The hiatus in posting has been due to the following, which might be of interest to you if you enjoy this sort of summary. If not, please go to the next blog on your reading list as you might get bored.

+ Outlining and chapter 1 start of “Raising Thendara,” book 2 of The Sky Riders.

+ Funding release for the final stage of Sprig Studios. And as a result: final design review, hardware shopping (notably a brand new ProTools HDX system), and initiation of legal contracts.

+ Preparation for a 6-school Bullying Prevention Campaign (beginning tomorrow) through Campus Impressions, New Life’s Non-Religious Education Department.

+ Brainstorming and writing with my team the script for New Life’s upcoming theatre/musical “A Watertown Christmas.”

+ Writing and finalizing demos for Jennifer’s upcoming jazz record. Something between a cross of Adele and Norah Jones, but uniquely my wife’s brand.

+ Set design and branding package for the next 3 message series at New Life.

+ Design of a new restaurant franchise. Opening Oswego, NY 2014.

+ Design of a new restaurant franchise. Potential development and opening in Greece, NY 2014.

+ Outlining new non-fiction book, “The Creatives,” a coaching guide to using the arts in the next century.

+ Outlining new non-fiction book, “Volume,” insights into hearing God’s voice in a modern world.

ch:

Born To

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My wife was born to worship, and born to inspire others to worship.

Yes she’s also a remarkable wife, a sacrificial mother, a faithful friend, a talented photographer, and a gifted songwriter.

But she was born to help people enter the presence of the Lord with her voice.

We do not choose gifts, gifts choose us.

We may want to be a world-class golfer or an elite scientist, but all our hoping and hard work can never acquire what God has placed innately within us. One of the worst things that could befall out destiny is to be successful at something we were never born to do.

Don’t fight your natural gifts because your appetite is for success in something else. That’s jealousy, and it leads to death. Instead, embrace your God-given talents.

True maturity is being content with what we will never be. Cherish who you are and what you’ve been born with. Then pursue it. ch:

UPDATE: For those looking for my notes from today’s message, here’s a free PDF of them: MESSAGE: A New Look

Rearview Mirror

Every morning I leave for work, I drive down this road and look back in this rearview mirror.

My wife is back there.

My children are back there playing.

Without me.

Ahead of me lies conquest. Mission. Vision. And yet behind me lies the same: training my children for mission, conquering new realms with my wife.

It’s a world torn in two.

That’s because I exist in the beautiful strain of tension. We all do. The pressures that exist between who we’re becoming and what we were, what we’re pressing toward and what we never want to leave.

Neither world is wrong, only being in the wrong one at the wrong time is. And that’s why the Holy Spirit is so important: He alone can dictate the proper rhythm for your life, faithful through the nuances of all it’s seasons.

Because when I come home later in the day – little voices squealing my name – that rearview mirror shows others I leave behind: hurting lives, valuable families, noble Kingdom endeavors.

Make sure there are goals within your day job that reach beyond the temporal; and make sure your home life sees as much time in the front window as it does in the rearview. ch:

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116,229

I worked out for the second time last night. I almost threw up. I’m no longer at a place where my squirrel-like metabolism affords me the choice of whether I work out or not: I have to work out.

Some people there where working out because their doctor told them to or else they’d die. That’s a pretty powerful motivator. Others because they’re clearly cross training for some Olympic sport.

But I wager that no one there last night saw “going to the gym” as their ultimate goal.

Professional athletes train for one purpose:

To win.

Good business people are constantly assessing their role in a simple formula:

Create a good or service that benefits people and generates positive cash flow.

Diligent students want to graduate with honors; successful musicians want to have people pay to hear them play; writers want their words in as many hands as possible.

Goals are not only a noble pursuit, they help us stay focused. They anchor us with stability in the midst of personal shaking; they give us a clear path forward when we’re presented ulterior options – options which would undermine success.

As a Christian, what are your goals?

I find much of what’s presented to us, much of what’s expected, to be well meaning but tepid, good natured but nauseating, and having some level of virtue but ultimately emasculating.

Is my sole pursuit as a Believer in Christ simply to read my Bible until I know more than someone else, or pray until others notice God hovering over me, or be such a good husband that other wives point me out to their husbands, or such a good father that other families’ kids would prefer living in my house, or tithe so faithfully and fully that most church salaries and projects are covered by my giving?

Such goals sound silly. Yet those are all very real conversations I’ve counseled people through – our been counseled through myself.

A noble vision without heaven’s backing becomes a fruitless pursuit.

So how do we attract the eyes of heaven?

116,229 people live in my Jefferson County, NY. Last night, our church board sat around and discussed a simple yet profound truth: what we’re stewarding now is incredible, but it’s nothing compared with where we need to go. This is a great corporate vision, yet I was struck on a personal level.

What am I doing to personally notify, navigate, and nurture those 116,229 people into a relationship with Jesus? What are my wife and I doing? My children?

How many of the 116,229 are the Hopper’s goal? Our part may be to reach 23, yours is 54, but the Bride is commissioned with reaching all of them, nothing less. And I’m a part of the Bride.

If heaven considers me a successful Christian, a Christian that has a goal, how does it measure me?

My findings suggest it’s by how much my value of people provokes active compassion, especially toward those living the furthest from his grace.

Do not confuse disciplines and goals. No good athlete looks at the weight machine and says, “I want to do more reps than anyone in the world.” They say, “I need to condition myself to go out there and win.”

Don’t confuse your Christian disciplines with your heaven-backed goals. All the “gym time” in the world won’t touch a single life if you don’t get out there on the field and start playing to win.

Ah, there goes another one. 116,228 and counting. ch:

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The Blur Effect

Wasn’t it just July?

Probably one the most frequent conversations my wife and I have stems around the elusive, missing months.

Where did ________ go?

It’s gotten so bad that we don’t even have to say it anymore. We’ll both just feel it, look at each other, and say something like, “Yeah, I know.”

But then, when did time ever feel slow?

My knee jerk reaction was when I was in 5th grade. Long summer days. Playing outside from 7am to dusk with my buddies. Summer took half the year. Now it takes half a week.

But as I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room the other day, I realized there was a time ten years ago where I was bored in such a place. There wasn’t a flatscreen TV on the wall. I didn’t have an iPhone glued to my hip. Nor did I have a MacBook Pro or iPad slipped in my backpack. Just a stack of crusty, over-read magazines on a coffee table drenched with the bubonic plague.

The point is, I’ve realized it’s impossible to be bored today.

There is always something to see, read, look up, or connect to. Wi-fi, cellular, broadband. Always something to keep us distracted.

Think about it. When was the last time you were actually bored?

While every one of us in the modern age could do with a little less internet access and TV time, nostalgia could very easily jump in and say, “We must have simpler times again. Death to smartphones!”

But that’s a pretty easy copout.

The greater, more astute determination is what are you busying yourself with? Distractions of the right sort can actually keep us from pursuing the wrong course.

I want to be distracted from self-centeredness by serving my family. I want to be distracted from the mundane by living out the Gospel in front of unsaved people. I want to be so preoccupied with the creative advancement of the Kingdom that I don’t have time to fret over the failing kingdoms of man.

Working hard, staying focused, and being the consummate student are all things I was raised to do. It’s amazing how often I encounter people who are allergic to “hard work without a break.” As if their mandatory smoke break or magical vacation solve everything. Which they don’t.

It’s how you play your life that counts, not how you pause it.

So if the scenery seems blurry to you, don’t worry about the speed: the course is far more important. And the passengers.

I’m running fast with my wife and children. We’re proclaiming the Gospel with every ounce of energy we have. Every creative idea. Every mile traveled.

The key to living “at speed” is being a better savorer then a backward looker. Because while you may be traveling at a great rate of speed outside, inside the vehicle you’re at a relative “0.”

The moments we have are fleeting. Cherish them. But keep moving forward, as there are many more to come.

Let’s change the question “Where did the week go?” to “How did you live it?” ch:

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