Creating Something Awesome
I have been thinking a lot lately about how to create something awesome. My new job at the fabulous Woodlawn UMC in Derby, KS has pushed me to think outside the box and “rethink church”. But leadership for creating something awesome requires incredible balance of a myriad of factors. Just after the Winter Olympics one professor likened it to speed skating. She watched the short track race and noticed that being fastest and strongest did not mean you would win the race. What really mattered was negotiating the crowded track so that you were well positioned at the moment of greatest opportunity. Often this positioning seems mysterious and out of our control, but I believe that a well thought out strategy could help us get there….
As I prepare to join a group of people ready to create something awesome, I have a couple axioms rolling through my head. First, make the WHY big enough. If the why is big enough, the how will take care of itself. These were the words of a pastor on the south side of Chicago who helped one of the oldest African American churches revive its congregation and restore its historic and expensive building. The idea is that we must believe in something before we act. We must believe that God loves us. That God wants to use us for God’s purpose. And that God’s purpose is to build community based on love. If the why is big enough, the how takes care of itself. God’s love is BIG, and if we really believe in that love, the obstacles along the way should be much easier to hurdle.
Second, creating something awesome requires a community to be Christ centered and others focused. These must never be separated. One without the other is not a holistic view of the church. So how do we do this? We follow the greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as your self.” To love God we must worship with gusto! We must seek to understand scripture. And we must seek God’s character. To love our neighbor we must first understand our selves. Love your self God does, you were created by God for relationships of great love. Then love your neighbor with the same fervor. Get to know the people around you. Take part in acts of compassion: serving the hungry, providing shelter, improving your neighborhood. Take part in acts of justice: talk to your city council about poverty, form a neighborhood watch, ask local businesses about their fare wage policies. As a people of faith we are asked to hold our current reality in tension with the reality God intends for the world. We do this by being Christ centered, focused and grounded in God; and others focused, reaching out to those around us to form a sustainable Kingdom-like community.
Finally, creating something awesome must happen by a community of producers and not consumers. Individual effort is outstanding, but it is not long lasting unless it inspires a community. For something to be awesome each person in the community must see there role as crucial to the success of the project. Leaders must keep ego in check and encourage delegation and energy from all who are willing. The vision must be flexible to withstand the changes created by new ideas from new people. Those joining the tribe must understand that they are needed as producers. Faith is not television or a department store. Faith requires effort. And for a community of faith to create something awesome we need producers, not consumers!
So in review. Make the WHY big enough, if the why is big enough, the how will take care of itself. When we really believe in God’s love for us; finding extra funds, negotiating with people who fear change, and other hard tasks seem a little more tolerable. Be Christ centered and others focused. Hold in tension that we are called to love God AND love neighbor. And become a community of producers, not consumers. Don’t offer people just another program, offer them a chance to change the world. I cannot wait to create something awesome.
How do you create awesomeness?