There are four factors that influence how much you’ll love your job – the organization you work for (including your direct boss), the lifestyle it provides (pay, hours, travel, location, etc.), the actual work you do, and finally the people you work with. If your job is only good in zero or one of these factors, find a new one now. If two of these are present, it’s an ok job but don’t let it be long-term. If your job has three of four, it’s a great job. Four out of four, now that’s your dream job. This week I experienced a big dose of all of these factors, reminding me again why I have a dream job.
First, I met with many of our board members to talk about how we can best organize our resources to accomplish our vision. Each meeting was a powerful reminder of the impact of SpringHill’s mission and the quality people I’m blessed to serve on behalf of.
Next I spent a big part of my week in Indianapolis with all our SpringHill leaders at our annual Leadership Conference. The conference provided me an opportunity to do two things that I love to do – teach and learn. I was able to speak with our team about being a multiplying leader and I learned from our own team and SpringHill friends about building healthy team culture, living out the Gospel and preparing ourselves for leadership.
But most importantly this week gave me the opportunity to spend time with a group of people I truly love – SpringHill staff. We worshipped, played (Duck Pin Bowling was a blast), ate, prayed, worked, learned, laughed, encouraged, challenged, and grew together as a team. This group of people, and the incredible work they do, is why I’m blessed beyond what I deserve to have the job I do.
And more importantly, at least for us competitive types, is the fact that if we can’t measure the most important things then we can’t set clear, measurable goals for them. So, for example, I can’t set a goal of increasing my love for my wife Denise by 20% (though I’m sure I need to love her more).
Which leads to the shortcoming of the leadership maxim I examined in my last post “what gets measured is what gets done” – you can’t directly measure the most important things in life.
At SpringHill this is the dilemma we face when we want to know if we’re effectively fulfilling our mission of “creating life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know and grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ.” How do you measure a person’s growth in their relationship with the God of the Universe? And even more perplexing how do you set a goal for such transformation?
We’ve accepted that we can’t measure such things directly or with certainty, but at the same time we’ve learned we can measure particular indicators of whether such things are becoming reality. These indicators center on a person’s admitted change in perspective, commitments they’ve made, and the anticipated life change they expect to experience. And when we combine these important indicators with our own professional assessment we begin to understand with some confidence our mission effectiveness. For us, at SpringHill, these indicators provide focus and attention to the most important things without being the final word on such things.
So maybe this old leadership maxim needs to change from “what gets measured is what gets done” to “what gets measured in some way is what gets our needed attention” and it’s this attention that leads to effectiveness.43.928283-85.286682
Sunday evening of Memorial Day I had a blast. I joined 5 other SpringHill leaders plus other staff and volunteers and we grilled steak and chicken for nearly 1000 campers at our Michigan Memorial Day Family Camp. It was a riot being with these folks, exhilarating serving and interacting with our guests, cool working on a big and awesome grill, and it was just plain fun doing something outside my regular work.
These few hours reminded me of something I’ve said to our staff over the years and, unfortunately, have recently forgotten myself – “we work for SpringHill, we’re supposed to have fun, and if we’re not something’s not right”.
Yet when our vision is to accomplish something personally and organizationally significant for people and Christ’s Kingdom, it almost always requires discipline, focus and lots of resources. And all of these things can squeeze out the space in our work to do something just for fun. Yet it’s in having a blast that really good and unexpected things can happen, most of which, somehow and some way, moves us forward in fulfilling our vision and goals.
Such surprises include the opportunity to build into key relationships, hearing first hand from our customers and guests, learning something new, or gaining a new perspective about our work, organization or life. Often one of the best things is we gain a new appreciation for our job and the people we get to do it with.
And frankly, it’s this last surprise that caused me, as I walked home Sunday evening, to give thanks for the privilege I have to do what I do and for the opportunity to do it with people I love.43.928283-85.286682
And that’s exactly what Denise and I just did this past weekend.
We attended A Journey to Generosity retreat, hosted by our dear friends Bruce and Sue Osterink and facilitated by Brad Formsma a former business owner and now staff member with Generous Giving, an organization dedicated to “encouraging givers to experience the joy of giving and embrace a lifestyle of generosity, according to God’s Word and Christ’s example.”
It was a powerful retreat, life transforming in many ways.
So let me give you a glimpse into what made it so powerful by passing on some of the wisdom I walked away with.
“Wealth tends to isolate, yet we need to be together”
“Are we Tickle Tithers or Generous Givers?”
“It’s more fun to be a giver than a consumer”
“Concentrate on what’s important and the rest will follow”
“Christ came to rescue and restore, thus our responsibility is to do the same”
“I use to fear failing at what’s important, now I fear succeeding at what’s not”
“People can be a gift of inconvenience”
“Listen closely to those you want to help”
“Giving is not just for wealthy people, it’s for everyone”
“We’re really good at wasting money and we’re really good at disguising it”
“There’s a difference between discernment and judging. We’re called to discern but not to judge”
“We start with nothing and we even worry about losing that”
“We put pressure on our children to have what we have”
“We’re to Give – Save – Live, in that order”
“It’s easy to fool one of us (husband and wife), but it’s not as easy to fool both of us”
“God’s calling is not the same as God’s timing”
“Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated”
“Giving is adding something to your life, not taking something away”
“What’s our motive to be debt free? Is it to get more or to give more?”
“Giving is the only antidote to materialism”
“Giving is not a once and done deal, it’s an ongoing journey we’re on”
“Keep it simple and just give”
By the way check out some inspiring videos about people who experienced generosity by clicking here.43.928283-85.286682
As I’ve said before, one of my favorite groups of people in the world are the adults who bring students to our Winter Teen and Juniors Retreats. I love them because they give up an entire weekend, many as volunteers, to spend 40 hours hanging out with students, doing crazy activities, and getting very little sleep.
Why do they do it? Because these adults know they’ll be a part of helping students hear, see and experience Jesus Christ in a life transforming way.
And this weekend I spent time with one of my favorite of these favorites, Scott Hazel. Scott is a teacher at Cedar Springs High School, just north of Grand Rapids. Every year he brings busloads of students from his public high school to one of our Winter Retreats.
Here’s the list of some unofficial, but amazing, SpringHill Winter Retreat records Scott has set.
- 28 straight years of bringing students to SpringHill Winter Retreats
- Over 30 Winter Retreats – In many of these 28 years Scott has attended 2 weekends, one with his high school students, and one with his church’s youth group.
- Over 1200 students – Scott brings 1 to 2 bus loads of students (between 40 to 95 students) every year.
I have no doubt these records, like Cal Ripkin Jr’s consecutive baseball games played record, will stand forever.
But more importantly than the records is the accumulative effect of what Scott has done over these 28 years. 1200+ students from a public high school have been given the opportunity to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and have their lives changed forever.
Only in eternity will we see the depth of Scott’s impact.
So now you know why Scott is one of my favorites of my favorites.
If you’d like to know more about Scott click here, he’s published a book telling his story.43.928283-85.286682
On New Year’s Eve I talk on the phone with a long time mentor and friend, Neil Atkinson. When I was in high school, Neil was my Young Life leader and was instrumental in my becoming a Christian. After college, Neil prepared Denise and I to become Young Life leaders. Later when Neil left Grand Rapids to become a regional director for Young Life in Kansas City, he and I continued to stay connected.
Throughout my life, in every context my relationship with Neil took, he’s always said something that I’ve needed to hear, often when it’s been unlooked-for, as it was on New Year’s Eve.
As we were sharing with each other how 2012 had gone, Neil mentioned that he turned 70 and I responded by telling him I turned 50. As we marveled at how old we’ve become I told Neil that turning 50 was harder than I expected because I felt that I had crossed the half-way point in my productive life.
That’s when he delivered one of his unexpected perspective adjustments that I needed.
“Let me tell you something that’s absolutely true, the next 10 years of your life will be your very best. You see you’ve come to a place where you possess the highest combination of both energy and wisdom that you’ll ever have. The next 10 years will be your most productive yet.”
So, though it may be true that I’m over half-way through my life, I realized, to great joy, that I may not have yet reached the half-way point in my potential contribution to this world and to Christ’s Kingdom. So once again Neil, thank you.43.928283-85.286682
Sometimes it seems things happen with the intended purpose of reminding us that we have less control over life than we want to believe. Sometimes these things make their point with irony and humor as it did today for my family and a couple of our friends.
You see, early Thursday morning a huge snow storm moved into northern Michigan and, over the next 36 hours, dumped tons of wet snow onto our world.
By early Thursday afternoon we were without power. Even though, with each passing hour, the temperature of our house dropped, our family went to bed optimistic we’d have power before we awoke.
But when Denise and I got up on Friday morning there was still no power and the house was now at 57 degrees and still dropping. And the word from the power company was that we may not have electricity for a “few days”.
So what to do? I texted Joel Hamilton, SpringHill Michigan’s Site Director, looking for any news or helpful insight he may have. He informed me that Eric Woods, our Retreats Director had a generator he wasn’t using.
Within 30 minutes Joel and Eric arrived at our house with Eric’s 15-year-old generator. Within another 20 minutes we had the generator started, properly hooked up to the house, and, most importantly, our furnace was running.
As we stood congratulating ourselves on a job well done Joel received a phone call, “Hollywood’s power is back on.” Now you need to know Hollywood is our neighbor, which meant that if he now had power we must have it too.
So we disconnected the generator, turned on the main breaker and, lo and behold, we had power.
In the time it took us to turn off the main breaker and hook up the generator the power had come back on. Which led us to have a good laugh at the mockery the power company made of our good work.c
It also led to our daughter Christina declaring, after 24 hours of no heat, it’s “The Miracle on 100th Avenue”.43.928283-85.286682
I’m on a plane flying back from the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s (3CA) national conference in San Diego, CA basking in the afterglow of the people I spent time with and the things I learned.
I’ve concluded that among the many great parts of this conference, which included spending time with peers who, over the years, have become close friends as well as listening to inspiring and challenging speakers, that the most encouraging part of the conference was talking with SpringHill staff alumni who are now serving other camps.
These alumni include people now working at camps in New England, the Pacific Northwest, in the heart of the California Redwoods, and even in Spain. Each of these camping professionals spent a part of their early professional years at SpringHill.
And, almost to a person, these professionals told me how much they learned and grew while at SpringHill. As a result they’ve been able to take what they’ve learned and positively impact the camps they’re currently serving.
Now you need to know there’s nothing much more rewarding for me than knowing that SpringHill has played a part in the personal and professional development of our past staff. Especially when it’s enabled them to make a bigger contribution to the organizations (especially camps) they’re currently serving.
And even more rewarding is knowing that this handful of past staff I talked with this week represents a fraternity of literally 1000’s of Springhill alumni who are now making positive contributions in companies, schools, churches, mission agencies, ministries, and families all over the world, and by doing so making an eternal difference in the lives of thousands upon ten thousands of people.43.928283-85.286682
There’s no other topic more written about, talked about, and blogged about in the entire world than leadership. It’s discussed, dissected, theorized, and analyzed in just about every facet in our society whether it’s government, business, education, church, or home.
Why? Because we believe that for any organization, from a family to the federal government, to be successful through making a positive difference in the world it needs leadership. Yet it’s also a term that’s used so much and in so many ways that people don’t always agree on exactly what it means, yet we all know it when we see it and know when it’s missing.
At SpringHill we’ve also identified “Leading People” as an essential personal quality and professional competency necessary for a person to have long-term success in our organization. To that end we’ve defined leadership at SpringHIll, including what it should look like, so we can move leadership out of the ambiguous into a more clarifying, and thus useful, description.
We see “Leading People” as requiring building and maintaining working relationships with those within and outside SpringHill. “Leading People” also requires excellent communication skills as well as building strong teams. Within this context a person needs to be able to effectively share responsibilities with others, then motivate and inspire them to be successful in those responsibilities by creating an environment where both individuals and teams succeed individually and together.
You see “Leading People” is so critically important at SpringHill because leadership is at the core of what we do when we create SpringHill Experiences (SHX’s). Because in every SHX we’re leading staff, including 100’s of summer staff, volunteers and, most importantly, our campers.
This is part 10 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.43.928283-85.286682
You know it when you’ve interacted with a business or organization that has a serious focus on their customers and constituents. You feel as if you’ve interacted with someone who knows and understands you, your needs and wants. It’s almost like you’re an old friend. These are the organizations that you come back to over and over, and recommend to your family and friends.
These organizations have what we call at SpringHill a “Customer Focus”. And being customer focused isn’t just good for business; we believe its, plain and simple, the right way to treat people. Thus being “Customer Focused” is a critical quality all SpringHill staff must possess.
But we need to remember organizations are only customer focused if their employees and staff are customer focused, because it’s people who serve customers, design, build and deliver products and services, not organizations.
Now most of us know what “Customer Focus” looks like from the receiving end, but what does it look like from the giving end? What does a “Customer Focus” person do, how do they think, how is it expressed in their day-to-day work?
They dedicate themselves to exceeding customers’ expectations, which requires getting to know customers well enough to understand their expectations, needs, and wants. Then it’s using this knowledge to, not just meet expectations, but to do everything possible to exceed them, to surprise the customer, to make them feel like an old friend.
Finally, it’s important we understand who the customer is. It’s not just those who pay for our services but anyone who depends on us within or outside our organization. In other words, we all have customers. Our goal then should be to exceed the expectations of all our customers, not just the “paying ones”. And when we embrace that we all have customers and thus all need to have “Customer Focus” we’re creating the kind of organization that will make an enduring impact on the lives of others.
This is part 9 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.43.928283-85.286682