Finding Focus

Recently I had the privilege to hear Bob Goff, author of Love Does, present at the 2013 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. (This year’s summit drastically impacted my life both at home and at work, so expect to see several posts coming from that as I process all that I heard.) One point in his presentation that really stuck with me, he said every Thursday he quits something. Knowing that his life are already busy, he stops doing something or delegates a task each week and challenged us to do the same. I wish I could do it justice, but hearing him talk about this was very funny.

Thinking at first that it was only a funny punchline, a segue into the real point he was making, I brushed it off.  I later began to think it was a great idea, and a way to regain focus in my life. I figured it couldn’t hurt to start finding things in my life that I can quit. I knew right off the bat the first thing I could stop doing, so I am trying it…TODAY.

I shut down the second computer at my desk, cleared off the three monitors I like to hide behind and am quitting the idea that I can effectively multi-task. I kid myself thinking that I’m getting more work done having the computers, monitors, laptop, iPad, kindle, and iPhone on my desk. The reality of the situation is that I have the attention span of a squirrel on a sugar high. I bounce from one thing to the next, not really finishing anything. When people come into my office, my eyes are always drawn back to that email that just came in, or something shinny that I thought I saw on the screen. With just my laptop and a piece a paper on my desk, I can free my mind to stay on task a little bit more. When someone comes in, I can close my laptop, and give them my full attention.

This seems like a great idea, however, just in the time that I started writing this, I have distracted myself and wanted to start something that just popped into my mind. I am having to force myself to mentally stay on topic and task. Admitting I have a problem is the first step correct? I should try to find a multitaskers anonymous meeting somewhere. I have decided to end the charade, and come out from behind my LED radiating monitors. To embrace who I am and play to my strengths instead of enable my weaknesses.

What is something you can quit to bring breathe back into your life?

On a side note, I wrote this post by hand which I haven’t written more than a post-it notes worth of content since high school. It was quite freeing and I look forward to how I can rely less on technology and be more intentional.

An Unexpected Gift

This weekend my parents came down for a pre-father’s day visit since my little family will be on vacation over the actual holiday. My younger brother and his daughter came up as well to stay with us. We had a great time, while I was warming the grill my dad walked into our dinning room with a few wrapped packages. First of all I was not expecting any sort of present, especially from my father to his son on a holiday saved for sons to honor their father’s. I believe tradition would dictate that I am supposed to present my dad with a tie, or picture made out of glued macaroni.

I unwrapped the box, to reveal an oak box with a glass top. Inside was a red towel. Now if you know my dad, I honestly thought he was giving me this red towel. I figured it held some significance from my childhood, most likely from when he was going through cancer or something similar. Dad then proceeded to take the towel out and explain that it was there to protect the contents in the box during transport. If I am being honest as I write this, I’m making this part of the gift giving process more eloquent than it was. Dad made fun of me for thinking my gift was a towel, but I digress.

Removing the towel, I found myself gazing upon my great, great, great grandfather’s civil war canteen and an old book. I knew exactly what the canteen was. It had been on display in my Grandpa Miller’s house for years (it was his great grandfather’s), and then he gave it to my dad, where it was displayed it in his house for some time. Having it passed down to me, was breath taking. I am in possession of a 152 year old family heirloom – what a responsibility!

Next to the canteen was a book. I was a bit puzzled  not knowing the significance of the book. It was the book my great(x3) grandpa Lords’ carried with him through the war in his pack. WOW! I knew our family had this book, but I had never seen it. Like the canteen, it had been passed to my dad who recently had the binding of the book restored. As I gently leafed though the book, I open the back cover where it has his name and inscription that it was carried in the civil war. Grandpa Lords survived the war and thought enough to mark that in there for his future descendants. This book is an amazing keepsake, published in what looks to be 1863, I would love to know where he bought it.2013-06-02 19.32.34

Finally my reached in his pocket, and in an air tight bag was the last piece to go into the box. It was Grandpa’s wallet. Now I doubt he had this during the civil war, this wallet was taken from him upon his death in 1875. He was killed in a horrible logging accident in Michigan, and this was all they presented to his wife. As gruesome as that is, it’s an honor to have such a piece. Dad told me that he was talking with his dad, Grandpa Miller about this gift he was giving me. Grandpa told him it wasn’t complete, and headed back to his bedroom. He returned with the wallet and said he wanted me to have it.

By this point, tears are welling up in my eyes as I look at this gift that no amount of money could replace. How many people have 1 thing from a distant relative, let alone 3 very personal items. I would like to believe that the canteen and book were with Grandpa Lords’ at the battle of Chickamauga where he fought heroically in one of the last defensive units on the battlefield as he guarded his comrades retreat from the field.

2013-06-02 19.31.42I will cherish and hold these family possessions dearly  and look forward to handing them to my son when he is of an age to appreciate these.

I realize this post takes a turn from what I normally write about, but I think without much of a stretch it applies to that which I strive for on this site and that is authenticity in leadership. My Grandfather was a good man, he signed up and fought bravely in some of the worst fighting this nation has seen. He returned home and took care of a family and raised 3 daughters. In my quest to become a better leader, I can look at these gifts I received, that have passed down through generations to my Grandpa Miller then to my Dad, both of whom I look up to. I can see this gift as a monumental reminder of the man I want to become, and the man I want my children to see me as. That’s pretty powerful unexpected gift.

Third Day @ Northview

We had Third Day at Northview this week for 2 days. It is a LOT of work to put on these events and it never seems like you can do enough preplanning. After living on the tour side for years, and now experiencing the venue side, my thought is, plan for the unexpected. I recently wrote an an article for Church Production Magazine about live event planning, which helped remind me of all that goes into these concerts.

We had 16 production volunteers, 1 intern, and 6 production staff members  on hand  for the evening just for the show. That doesn’t include loaders to setup or tear down of which there were another 2o some people. It takes an army to make this all happen, and I am so proud of my team!

Since this was their second time here, it made for a mini reunion with most of the crew guys. I sat and talked with their Front of House guy and Production Manager about their new sound system and ways to tweak ours here at the church. With the entire crew, I swapped horror stories of life on the road and funny things that happened the last time they were here.

Once the show is under way, I can really lay low (as long as I keep my radio near me,) and I am free to wander the room. I recently got back into photography (Awkward segway.) This freedom allowed me to take my recently repaired Canon Rebel out and remember that I am not a very good photographer. Here are some photos from the night. Not all of them are great, I am still learning the ins and outs of the trade. Check them out below by clicking the picture. Let me know what you think.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

My Thoughts on “The Bible – Part 1”

Last night, the History Channel premiered Mark Burnett’s epic mini-series, “The Bible.” Leading up to the showing last night, there seemed to be quite a bit of hype – especially since it was showing on the History Channel. There were questions as to how accurate it would be and if it would be uplifting to christians or make a mockery of faith.

My initial impression of part one leaves me impressed for the most part. I had my Bible open on the computer and was able to follow along for the most part. I realize, like with most movies made from books, not everything makes the cut. There are things that have to be removed, as well as things that require some creative license. One aspect I really appreciated was the director’s viewpoint. I feel the producers did a great job with expressing the emotions of those surrounding the main characters that the bible doesn’t address directly.

My only real disappointment was the overall scale of the re-enactments. It became most noticeable during the scenes depicting the crossing of the Red Sea. Millions of Israelites left Egypt, yet “The Bible” only shows a few hundred of them. Maybe I have the old Ten Commandments movie stuck in my mind, or I’m thinking of an epic battle in Lord of The Rings. It doesn’t ruin the show for me by any means, it just stood out as a break in the realism.

The History Channel narrator caught me off guard at first. I quickly got over it, I think I was expecting more of a made-for-TV movie than a documentary, so I won’t hold my misconceptions against them.

The trailer starts off with what I assume is Noah’s Ark, however the series started last night showing Abram post-flood. I’ll be interested to see if there is a flashback, or if that scene was simply cut. I’m curious as to why they started where they did.

All-in-all I’ve really enjoyed it so far; “The Bible” has potential to be a great evangelistic tool, leaving those who are unfamiliar with scripture wanting more.

I am looking forward to part two next Sunday.

 

Is it too late to make a New Year’s Commitment?

I have been meaning to get back to blogging on my personal site for several weeks. I’ve had the best of intentions, and have even sat down to start writing. Then life would call, and off I went to attend to whatever emergency had come up. Even this post has already been interrupted and I’m only a few words in. Well needless to say, I have committed to taking this blog seriously, I want it to be a resource for others to learn from the mistakes and successes I have already encountered (usually more mistakes.)

I hope you will journey with me and continue to check back often, comment and engage with the content. I am still learning as well, life is never something you master.

Currently I am working on the the Goals and Strategies for my tech team at Northview I look forward to sharing the ideas we’re coming up with here. I should be able to share those soon.

Blessings and may your audio always be clean and your video HD.

Shaun

 

 

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamations started with George Washington, but it was Lincoln who made it a national holiday. Before this, each state celebrated a day of thanks on their own schedules. Lincoln responded immediately to the request of  Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor. She had been petitioning for 15 years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and was ignored by previous Presidents.

Lincoln’s immediate response and how his Proclamation was written gives another view into his Character.

On this Thanksgiving let us not forget the source from which our blessings come – The ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

 

Keeping the Christmas Spirit

This time of year, I quickly find myself becoming Scrooge, “Ba-humbug” -ing the season. I used to live for Christmas: I love the lights, trees, and snow. To me there was no such thing as too much “Christmas.”

Now with deadlines, guidelines, and long hours, I can become grumpy – sitting in the corner losing my reason for the season (loosely based on REM’s Losing My Religion).

For those who work in church life, you know – this is our busy season. Some of my extended family  still don’t  understand that this is my job. I’m not just going to church [5 times on Christmas Eve] because I feel like it. I can’t blow off the services to come to Uncle Franks house for the holidays. The stress builds among family and co-workers, and if not addressed in a timely manner, someone may Vesuvius all over the place.

So, going into this season, I just want to encourage all of you who are gearing up for a busy holiday season, to do 3 things:

  1. Take a deep breath – You will get through it. Even though I am convinced that some difficult-to-setup artificial trees should be charged for crimes against humanity.
  2. Remember why we do this – Christmas Eve may be the only time a person steps foot inside a church. Keeping your mind focused on the end game will make that 70th box of ornaments being carried up three flights of stairs, not so heavy.
  3. Christ is Love – He would not want this time of year to lead to anger and frustration with your brother or sister. Everyone has times of frustration at work, and I have found that it helps to deal with the situation immediately. Allowing it to fester only makes it worse…much worse. I have been known to yell out, “SAME TEAM” when arguments are brewing; everyone needs to be reminded that we are all working together towards a common goal.

I pray your season will be merry and filled with joy & peace.

 

Thursday Motivation

I’m not one that’s big on motivational posters. I would be the guy to hang a funny Demotivational one in my office. This one however actually inspired me.

20121018-102928.jpg

It’s knowledge I already had but yet a good reminder.

You have to be willing to GO after those things you want or you’ll never get them.

You won’t become a great at something just sitting alone on your couch. It takes a determined spirit and hard work to attain success.

You have to ASK otherwise the answer is always no.

To many times I’ve been afraid to ask because I already “knew” the answer was no. I kept my dream to myself in fear that asking for help would be greeted with a closed door. Realizing that the answer is always “No” when I do not ask really causes me to check how afraid am I really. Am I willing to give up on something because of a single word? Ask – you never know what doors it will open. 100% of questions never asked aren’t answered (look at me being all motivational.)

You have to STEP forward or you’ll always be in the same place.

Here again, I have had fear hold me back from making a step forward – fear of rejection or failure. That first step can always be hard, but making it can lead to huge reward.

Hopefully you find some motivation in this as well. I pray God has given you a dream to go after.

What are you going after?

Back to work (soap box speech)

I am back to work today after some much needed time off. It was a great time of reflection for myself and a time of healing for my family. See, in my previous post I discussed coming face to face with burning out. I was able to use this time to show my family how important they are to me, even more than my job. To prove it, I left my phone off, purposely didn’t check my email, and just spent time with my wife and young son. It was refreshing. I came back into work today to prepare for the weekend service, over the past several months this time preparing has been done by the “Grumpy Tech Director” because resentment and bitterness was welling up inside me. Today, I kid you not there was a song in my step (the assistant technical director wanted to slap me). God refreshed my spirit, I feel awesome and empowered to go about the work I have been called to do.

As I pulled into the parking lot that after a week off, I noticed that the church was still here. Now I know that seems silly to notice a 100,000+ square foot building, but I have somehow convinced myself that if I took time off the church wouldn’t survive. This ill-conceived need causes me to have a such a hard time unplugging from work. The weekend services won’t happen if I’m not there, the volunteers won’t know what to do if I am not there to lead. That’s pretty prideful isn’t it? To think that without me, God couldn’t meet his people is pretty outrageous pride. God has showed me that He’s in control and He wants me to rest. God rested on the 7th day and the universe didn’t fall apart did it?

I recently talked with a volunteer on my team. At one time he was a full time tech at another church in town. He shared with me that he had gone 2 years without taking a break. Working weekends, mid-week rehearsal and all the other things that go into the job. I feel so bad for him, because now, he’s just beginning to get back into church. These kind of work habits snuffs out your spirit like a candle.

I encourage you to take that vacation, use your day off, remove yourself from work. There is never a good time to take a vacation – there are always big things going on, crises will always happen. Believing in that false “need” that things won’t work if I’m not there is a dangerous place to get. What I have found is that coming in fresh from a vacation allows me to be much more productive. Now I know many people who say that coming back from vacation just adds stress. Don’t let that keep you from taking that time. No matter what you tell yourself, your body and mind needs you to take that downtime.

Start with jut your day off, then a weekend, then a week. Ease yourself into it, I assure you, you’ll never be the same. Take it from a recovering work-a-holic.

 

Thoughts on the Global Leadership Summit

Preparing for this year’s Global Leadership Summit has me reflecting about previous years. I am often asked by people who have never been “what’s so important about it?” My answer is always: It changed my career. Before attending the Summit I was always focused on the Tech and not the People. I was a nerd who wanted to be a leader and didn’t know how. I can still hear Bill Hybels (Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church) saying in his opening talk in 2010, “Leaders move people from HERE to THERE.” That’s when it hit me, I am not moving anyone from anywhere doing things the way I’ve always done them. Now let me take a moment and explain, there is nothing wrong with the ultra techie. The guy that can spit out model numbers from memory and can tell you the ins and outs of all the latest gear. But I had to make s decision, I had to decide if I was going to be the ultra tech and if so, was I willing to put the effort into it. See, I have never been good at model numbers and such. I always feel embarrassed when asked what kind of mics I am using and end up getting the numbers all messed up. I was going to have to hunker down and study if I was going to be able to run with the big tech dogs.

This all started a stirring in me that I am still working on today. It’s a feeling that started in my heart and is making its way to my brain as I figure out how to implement it. I had to ask myself the tough question: “Can I be okay walking away from mixing sound and let someone else do it?” I found that answer at the Leadership Summit, “Yes, I can.” God put a new passion in my heart, centered around my old passion. I still love tech, and am still a nerd. But now I find joy in helping others find that passion. I find greater joy in building a team than pulling off a flawless performance. Hybels went on to say: “Figure out what it is that God wants you to do in this world, then move people from HERE to There.” I have figured out what God wants to do with me at this point in my life.  It’s not being the front of house guy, it’s not being the road manager for a band, it is leading and caring for a team of volunteers at a church for the glory of God.

 

 

What has God called you to do? Are you doing it, or still trying to fight down the path of your own wants and desires?

 

 

I urge you to check out the Global Leadership Summit and see what changes God wants to make in you.

 

 

(As an added note, I want to give Tim Schraeder a major thank you for his meticulous notes. I used his notes to augment my own and want to thank him for that. His notes can be found at: http://www.timschraeder.com)