The day will come when I will no longer be the President of SpringHill. It’s one of the few things in life I’m 100% sure of. I may not know the circumstances surrounding that last day – when it’ll be or by whose choice will it come – mine, the board’s or God’s. But not knowing these things doesn’t impact what I do know for sure – one day I will no longer be in this job. So there’s no excuse for not doing my part to make sure SpringHill is ready for that inevitable day.
Up to this point I always believed my responsibility was to inform our board of a handful of viable replacements, either on staff or within the SpringHill community, that were available just in case I got hit by a truck.
But my understanding of this responsibility has changed. Recently I talked with a leader I deeply respect about his perspective on preparing for that certain day. What he told me turned my understanding of my responsibility upside down.
He said his job isn’t to replace himself but to multiply himself.
As I’ve reflected on his words I realized he’s right – leaders never invest for a one to one return, they invest for a compounding yield, to see their efforts multiply.
- impacts the effectiveness of an organization today; replacement only matters in the future
- aligns with growth, replacement with maintenance
- is a sign of health; replacement is a sign of sickness and death
So my assignment is now clear – work every day to multiply myself as a leader, by developing and raising up new and future leaders who can help lead SpringHill today. If I do this then SpringHill, as a natural consequence, will also be prepared for that inevitable day – when I’m no longer here.
There’s an old song by the band Genesis called I Can’t Dance which includes the lines “I can’t dance, I can’t talk. The only thing about me is the way I walk.” I can relate to these lyrics because they’re the words of someone who has no rhythm.
And though I have no musical rhythm, my goal has been to create an organization that does; I want SpringHill to have rhythm so it can dance to the music of its annual work calendar.
What does organizational rhythm look like? It’s when an organization’s structure, leadership, meetings, communication, reporting and planning align with the natural rhythm of its work.
For example, at SpringHill, we discovered that we have three distinct seasons (winter, summer, and fall) and not the traditional 4 quarters. So we’ve organized board meetings, SpringHill wide staff meetings, and planning sessions around these three seasons. It allows us to evaluate the past season and plan the next.
Then within each season all our teams meet after the middle of each month to review the monthly progress towards seasonal and annual goals. We also have weekly “huddles” where we review our weekly progress towards these same goals.
During the next two weeks, for example, we have our monthly leadership team meeting, our winter board meeting and our winter SpringHill wide staff meeting. In each meeting we’re reviewing, discussing and evaluating all the same information – the evaluation of our 2012 results and the progress on our 2013 plan.
And the beauty of having this rhythm is that at the end of this two-week period all our staff and board will be both informed, aligned, and focused on achieving our goals.
So like dancing, having organizational rhythm, makes moving to your organization’s music easier, exciting, and more importantly, effective in achieving your goals.43.928283-85.286682
And every once in a while I’ll hear a leader of a non – profit say “wouldn’t it be nice if we had one big donor who would cover all our needs so we won’t have to spend so much time fundraising?”
And I always reply, like I do with basketball players I’m coaching, “yes, that would be good and it would be easier, but it wouldn’t be the best shot you can take for your organization.”
And exactly what is the best shots for a not for profit organization to take?
First, it’s simply to have donors.
Second, is to have lots of donors.
And third, an even better shot is to need all those donors to achieve your mission and vision.
Why are these the best shots for a non – profit?
First, because, as Jesus said, “where’s one’s treasure is, so is one’s heart” (Mt 6:21). So if you want people’s hearts with your organization, you need a bit of their treasure.
Second, when people hearts are with your organization they’ll do more than just financially support you, they’ll volunteer, promote and endorse your work.
Thirdly, having many donors provides a broad level of accountability. With few donors, the accountability isn’t broad and the possibility exists that the accountability will not represent the interest of all those involved with the ministry.
Finally, being dependent on a large numbers of donors keeps an organization appropriately humble; open to input, and listening for opportunities to better serve.
So remember, don’t just take a good shot for your organization even if it’s an easy one, instead work for the best shot and your organization will benefit for years to come.43.928283-85.286682
In the past I’ve written about what we at SpringHill call the “6 Key Questions.” They’re questions every organization needs to answer if it desires to make an enduring difference in the world.
These 6 questions (and how we answer them) are:
- What do we believe to be true? Statement of faith, beliefs about reality
- What’s important to us? Core Values
- Why do we exist? Mission
- What do we want to become? Vision
- What do we want to achieve? Big Hairy Audacious “God” Goal (BHAGG)
- What makes us distinct? Hedgehog
Yet if an organization answers these 6 questions but stops there, it could find itself falling short in making the answers a reality.
So there are 6 other questions we address that flow out of the answers to the 6 Key Questions. I call them “The Game Plan Questions’ because they translate the Key 6 Questions into an actionable plan. The 6 Key Questions are strategic, philosophical and long-term in nature while the Game Plan Questions drive the organization towards tactics, goals, actions that ultimately make the answers to the 6 Key Questions reality.
The Game Plan Questions (and how we answer them) are:
- What are the consistent steps we’ll need to take to achieve our BHAGG and Vision? 20 Mile March
- Where and who will we serve and through what products/ministries? Sandbox
- How will we know we’re being successful? Targets and Goals
- What do we have to do to be successful? Big Moves
- What’s important right now? Annual Moves
- What do I need to do to contribute to our team’s success? Individual plans and goals
Over the next couple of weeks I will provide a deeper look at each of these Game Plan Questions and how an organization can answer them to assure the necessary clarity, alignment and buy-in by its staff and board which is necessary if it’s to have the enduring impact in the world it desires.43.928283-85.286682
This month we’ve begun our annual work of updating the SpringHill strategic plan, or as we refer to it, our ministry plan. The process includes most of our staff and board at some level and culminates in our leadership team’s offsite annual planning meeting where we bring all the input and pieces together and update our plan.
And every year, during our annual planning offsite, we find ourselves in this tension between detailed calculated planning verses faith driven, visionary planning. This tension is particularly strong in Christian organizations where we “want to leave room for God” in our plans because we know He can do more than “we could ever ask for or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
But too often “leaving room for God” is an excuse for not doing the hard work of planning. We need to accept that planning clearly is a godly pursuit, the Scriptures are full of admonishment to “count the cost” and that “the noble man devises noble plans; and by noble deeds he stands” (Isaiah 32:8).
On the other hand, planning can quickly replace sensitivity to God’s leading and having the faith that can “move mountains”. This most often happens when we’ve create well thought out plans because we move our faith to our plans and away from the God who makes the plans a reality.
So how have we tried to reconcile this tension between planning and faith?
We’ve accept that we need both – it’s not an “either/or” proposition but a “both/and” (like many things of faith). We’re committed to prayerfully creating the very best plans we can, using the very best tools, knowledge, and insight available to us. Yet, at the same time, we prayerfully set long-term goals and vision that we can’t always calculate our way too, knowing we have to move forward in faith, trusting God will provide what we need when we need it.43.928283-85.286682
With the rollout of our new vision, and with SpringHill staff and board being the people they are, I’m expecting over the next year a lot of new ideas for programs and ministries we could embark on. Thus our challenge will be in screening and prioritizing these ideas, with the goal of only doing what will propel us towards fulfilling our vision and BHAGG.
So as I’ve thought about this opportunity it’s become apparent that there will three groups of ideas we’ll be evaluating.
Humility ideas are all the possibilities that result from seeing a need or an opportunity in the world and wanting to do something about it. Most will be great ideas, ideas that can and should become reality. But they won’t align with our mission, vision, core values and philosophy of ministry, thus we shouldn’t do them. They’re humility ideas, because it’ll require us to remember – we can’t do all things and be all things to all people.
One off Ideas:
These are ideas that do align with who we are and direction we’re going but do not propel us forward or give energy to our envision future. Though they may align, they don’t integrate well with SpringHill and the direction it’s going, thus they provide little momentum forward, and so, as a result, they will be lower priority ideas.
Propelling ideas will be our top priority. These are ideas that are both aligned and have the potential to propel us forward in fulfilling our future goals. These ideas will give energy to SpringHill because they’ll integrate with other initiatives, with our ministry allies, with our staff, and with our supporters.
So over this next year we’ll need wisdom and humility as we work to take on only what will lead SpringHill be all that God’s called it to be, and to do only what God’s called it to do.43.928283-85.286682
After months of talking, and more importantly, listening to many people, reading, observing the world, and praying about SpringHill’s vision for our next season of ministry, I discovered my role, in this process, has been to listen for God’s voice in the voices of others.
As you might remember from earlier posts, vision answers the question “what does God want us to become in the next 10 to 20 years?”
I also discovered four voices I needed to pay special attention too. The first voice is the voice of SpringHill – including the SpringHill of today and the SpringHill of yesterday. In particular I needed to focus on the unchangeable DNA of SpringHill – our statement of faith, core values, mission, and philosophy of ministry.
The second voice is what I call “the world”. The world includes those trends, cultural issues, and industry realities that stand outside of SpringHill but can, and most likely will, impact SpringHill now and into the future.
The third voice’s represented by the people of SpringHill – our staff, board, donors, volunteers, and alumni. I found my experience listening to these voices to be informative and inspiring. These conversations also reminded me why I love working with and for these incredible folks.
Finally, with encouragement of our board chair and vice chair, I’ve listened to all that God’s put on my heart and in my mind about SpringHill, most of which now resides in my journal.
So after listening to these voices it became clear that each one had many significant things to say about our future. But it’s where all four voices meet that I’ve heard God’s voice, and His clear calling, for what SpringHill’s to become in this next season of ministry.43.928283-85.286682
We just finished one of our 3 yearly All Staff Meetings this morning. We do one at the end of each of our three “seasons” scheduled along each of our three yearly Board of Director’s meetings. The meeting allows the entire staff to hear and interact with the same information that our board receives, including the results of the previous season and a look ahead to the rest of the year.
The meeting has evolved over time, moving from something that might be compared to a locker room speech to a more businesslike model. We continue to try to balance being “businesslike” and having that pre-game locker room feeling. Depending on the meeting we tend to lean one way or another.
The tone of today’s meeting clearly leaned towards more businesslike. Part of the reason was the large number of items on the agenda.
Our standard agenda includes:
Performance against our goals (see our weekly huddle goals –click here)
Progress on Key Initiatives
Ministry highlights and stories
President’s message (content varies meeting to meeting)
One other topic
We share the presentation responsibility among our management team. Today we had 7 different people present. Our goal is to share information quickly and succinctly allowing time for questions and comments by staff.
One of our biggest challenges has been the growing number of staff who have offices outside of Evart, MI. We’ve struggled finding reasonably priced technologies that would effectively include remote staff. Today, by using GoToMeeting, we had our best “technology” meeting yet, marked by a relatively high interaction between people in 6 locations. Not perfect, but less costly than people driving to the location.
Finally the highlight of these meetings is the simple fact that the entire SpringHill team is “together”, which, for me, is always a great thing.43.928283-85.286682
My wife Denise called Tuesday my “pastor day” because I had the opportunity to hang out in metro Detroit with three dear friends who are also inspiring pastors and incredible leaders – Terry Prisk, Steve Andrews and Eric Russ.
My first stop was with Terry Prisk, a long time SpringHill partner and leader of The River Community Church. Terry and I meet every few months to share, challenge and encourage each other in our respected leadership positions. As usually happens we exchanged books we’re each reading knowing we’ll discuss their respected contents the next time we’re together.
Next I had the opportunity to have coffee with Steve Andrews from Kensington Community Church. Steve’s a former SpringHill board member and current member of our strategic planning team. In these roles, as he did once again in our time together, Steve’s spoken into my life by challenging me to think big about SpringHill and its place in God’s Kingdom.
I ended my day near downtown Detroit with Eric Russ, a current SpringHill board member, who leads Mack Avenue Community Church. Eric and I spent our time together riding in the “Mack Truck”, an old pickup truck used by the church. We toured the neighborhood where his church ministers. I’m inspired every time I’m with Eric but never more than when I see the community, people and work he’s committed his life too.
As I drove home from Detroit I thought to myself “what a great day”. I also thanked God for each of these men and the significant impact they’ve made on both SpringHill and on me. In my final thought of the day I searched for answers to this question “how can SpringHill and I better support them and their churches in the incredibly important work they do in the communities they serve?”43.928283-85.286682
His words, along with all the other conversations were truly encouraging. Their presence blessed us greatly and spoke volumes about their commitment to and love for what God’s continuing to do through SpringHill. It’s this ongoing commitment from folks like these that allow organizations like SpringHill to thrive for decades.
Our day together occurred at our Michigan overnight camp. It started out with summer staff worship, joining pre-opening day staff meeting and then watching our the entire summer staff take their annual photo leading one board member to comment “there are more staff than we had campers in any given week when I was on the board”.
We then enjoyed a meal together in the Founders’ House (or what folks called back in the day…”The Big House”) where we listened to some old stories followed by a “state of SpringHill” discussion. The questions asked and the comments made demonstrated that our board alumnae continue to be committed to the mission of SpringHill and their desire to see it succeed.
But the following two benefits made this day so important for all of us.
First, the reunion allows us to bless our board alumni by letting them see the ministry that’s been built on the foundation of their sacrifice and hard work while acknowledging their contributions and thanking them for what they’ve done and still do to help SpringHill fulfill its mission.
And secondly, it’s a great reminder to our current staff and board of where we’ve come from which helps us to become all God has called us to be and to do all that God has called us to do.43.928283-85.286682