How to keep your goals in front of you

Goals are great. Often though, they are only for the idealist. If you want to make them viable consistently, then you have to keep them in front of you.

Knowing that well-intentioned goals leak over time in the crucible of leadership, I developed a weekly discipline to keep them in front of me. Our church has an online database for keeping up with our goals that I simplified for my personal and weekly use. By pasting all the content into an Excel sheet, I can see my annual work and self-development goals in one quick glance. Five columns total: one for each goal and a column for each quarter’s progress.

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I chose the most standardized day of my week to view my goals and mark progress. For me, it’s Sunday mornings at 8AM. It’s a time when I am least likely to be interrupted, or to have a meeting scheduled.  When an Outlook reminder goes off on my devices, I know to review the next two weeks on my calendar, review my annual goals and record my progress.

The goal portion takes me 5-7 minutes to update. Typically, only 1/3 of my goals require a progress update. These few minutes once a week ensure I’ aware of the progress I’ve made in completing my predetermined goals and it draws attention to where I need to focus to complete my goals.

If I chose my priorities each week or allowed them to be assigned to me by the “tyranny of the urgent”, I’d never get anything substantial or strategic done. I know that what I have listed as goals will help me be most effective for my church.

I review my calendar for the next two weeks because I often realize while reviewing my goals that I have some important work still to be done. I take this opportunity to create space on my calendar for that specific work, whether it is for studying, calling meetings or simply executing.

My goals leak still, but they can’t get too leaky in a week’s time.

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The Art of Self-deprecation in Leadership

When you’re 5’7”, bald, wear glasses, failed Algebra twice and had your greatest athletic moments competing against invisible competitors in your own backyard, it is easy to self-deprecate. In fact, it’s intuitive.

Like most everyone, I have concern for my image. But when I have foregone my hopes of people seeing me as similar to my childhood heroes (Nick Barkley, The Big Valley, Paunch, CHiPs, and Maverick, Top Gun), I have successfully enabled people to connect with me quicker.

Someone who doesn’t hide their inadequacies – whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual – becomes more approachable to others. You can’t lead if people won’t approach you.

When your vocational position gives you authority over people, there is often an intimidation factor that comes with it (even if you’re 5’7”). Self-deprecation typically makes you less threatening. Your position gives you power; your personality should not.

I spoke once to a group about the idea of self-deprecation and praising its advantages, and I unintentionally made the comment that my pastor and I often take the opportunity to “self-defecate when together.” Awkward! See, I told you self-deprecation comes very naturally to me.

Learn to take yourself less seriously. Learn to not speak about your church’s size or your recent accomplishments.

Others valuing your leadership and strengths take time and it is rarely done with making comments about yourself and bragging. The appropriate amount of self-deprecation can go a long way in allowing people to connect with you, and enabling you to lead them as they learn your strengths, over time.

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5 Things Good Resumes and Webpages Have in Common

A successful webpage has some distinctive features that most users appreciate such as clean design, easy navigation, and a logically concise information layout.

The best resumes I’ve read also had these same elements.

When I review resumes, there are things that turn me off, predisposing me to not seriously consider a candidate for a position. In my experiences, these things are:

  • Hidden key information – Either they’ve not started with the critical information (name, location, current employer and experience) or it’s not easily detectible. Sometimes they choose to highlight hobbies and high school awards before letting me know what experience they’ve had that pertains to the job for which they are soliciting. And sometimes they go overboard on design, concealing key information. I like unique design like the rest of the world, but no amount of Apple-generated cool can hide the fact that a candidate doesn’t have the right experience for the position.
  • Over-stated or over-spiritualized purpose statement – I don’t discount candidates for having one, but by receiving a resume for a ministerial position, I already assume they’re believers seeking God’s will for future service. If they want to tell me that in a resume, that’s okay—but it needs to be simple and specific. Candidates may feel like they could serve in several types of positions (a utility guy or gal), but they must at least make the effort to acknowledge God’s calling to the specific area for which I’m hiring.
  • Long cover letter – I don’t mind quick introductions that connect the dots, but I already have their resumes. I don’t need 500 additional words in paragraph form to tell me what I can find in it. If I want additional information, I’ll ask for it as a part of my follow-up.
  • Unchecked resume – A resume should be a product of your best efforts. I realize it’s just a snapshot, but it should be an accurate and grammatically-sound snapshot.
  • Too much information – A resume doesn’t have to cover everything. Just entice me to want to know more. If a resume does that, there will be an opportunity to tell me more. Dossiers serve their purpose, but are rarely required in an initial resume submittal for a ministry setting.

P.S. In a ministry context, I believe these turn-offs are fairly universal. But as a post-script, here are a few items I recommend you include (in order), and things I personally like to see when reviewing a resume:

  1. Experience – This trumps most everything. Let me know where you’re currently serving, then list other significant ministry services in historical order.
  2. Education
  3. Ministry Accomplishments
  4. Family Description* (if applicable) – This can be first or last. By listing them last, I don’t assume that’s where you order them in value.
  5. A Picture* – A simple, professional one is best. (I don’t need one of you in a bike helmet finishing your triathlon.)
  6. Personality Profile Results – If you’ve completed DISCPLACEStrength Finders, etc., let me know the key findings of your results. Even if I don’t understand them fully, a quick online search can provide me insightful information on who God created you to be (offering the “full profile results” as requested is a nice touch).
  7. Your Everyday Name – Don’t use your full name if you don’t want me to call you that. If you go by “Mike,” then write “Mike.” Using your first, middle, and last names is important if you’re really important and/or there’s someone with your same name competing with you in creating intellectual property.
  8. E-mail Address – Make it professional. I rarely take a candidate seriously if I have to type NinjaMinister@gmail.com.

*Because I am advising you on what I like to view on a resume I can make those statements. But requesting those components of a candidate as the hiring church could be crossing legal lines (I’d suggest consulting an attorney for clarification if it’s important to you).

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