Archives For Greg Baird

Managing LifeWe all want to lead well. There’s a lot of talk about leadership, and rightly so. We often quote John Maxwell on this blog, who says that:

everything rises and falls on leadership.”

I believe that’s true, not just because it’s a great statement to believe, but because I’ve seen it in action for nearly 25 years leading in Children’s & Family Ministry.

But we often forget, or at least minimize, the place of good managementGood leadership requires good management. And it starts with you and me effectively managing ourselves.

I believe there are at least 3 critical areas that leaders must manage in order to lead well, and they are all connected. These 3 areas are:

1. Time

It’s been said that, in order to see a person’s real priorities, all you have to do is look at how they spend their money and how they spend their time. There’s a lot of value to that statement. The difference for the leader is this: money can be replaced, but time cannot. As the leader, how you spend your time carries a “trickle down” effect to those you are leading. So it’s critical that leaders identify their priorities…

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VolunteeringVolunteers are the life of our ministry. More than any other area in the church, volunteers are critical to the success of children’s ministry. Too often they are “recruited” and simply thrown in to the area they are needed. But if you truly want them to succeed, here are a few things that they need to know:

1. They are not babysitters.

Of course, most would agree with you about this. Unfortunately, many times they don’t act like it’s true. Volunteers need to truly understand that they are here to make an eternal impact in the lives of the kids they are serving.

2. Their ministry needs to flow from their relationship with God. 

Following on from #1, it’s important for our team to understand the importance of their own relationship with God. And it’s important for us, as leaders, to understand that children’s ministry isnot just about discipling children, but also about discipling our volunteers. Are you checking on the spiritual health of your individual team members?

3. The Gospel must be central to everything. 

Fun and games is good and great (a must in children’s ministry), but it’s not what we’re all about. Everything we…

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2013I’m not much for New Year “resolutions”, but there’s a time for renewed commitment to the things we’re pursuing. The New Year is always a good time to step back and evaluate, and to look ahead with renewed energy. Here are a few thoughts on how we can “lead better” in 2013:

1. Prioritize Spiritual Formation

  • In your own life. Yes, really! I’ve seen far too many church leaders become “professional” Christians. Don’t let this happen. Practice the spiritual disciplines. Worship. Stay in the Word & in prayer daily. Pursue personal spiritual formation. Let your ministry flow from your own spiritual life…not the other way around.
  • In your ministry. Yes, really! Too many of us replace a real plan for spiritual formation with program. Program – no matter how creative or captivating – is not a plan for spiritual formation. Read this again: Program – no matter how creative or captivating – is not a plan for spiritual formation. Here’s the question I like to ask as I work with churches: if a child were to go through your children’s ministry from birth through preteen, what is the specific plan for spiritual formation along every stage of that…

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Ways-to-LeadChristmas can be a wonderful time of year . . . or it can be a complete nightmare. How do we, as ministry leaders, enjoy the season while leading well? Here are 5 ideas:

1. Focus on people, not program. 

Christmas can be a heavily programmed time of year. Depending on your church, you may not have a choice but to drive the program during this season. But that doesn’t mean that you have to put people second. In all your interactions, planning for the programs, etc., always keep the needs & concerns of the people in mind. Always seek to invest in those involved, not just use them to to fill a spot in the Christmas play.

2. Don’t neglect your own family. 

The demands of the season can be many. I hear it all the time:

  • “But I have to be at the church…”
  • “It’s my job…”
  • “The Christmas musical would fall apart without me…”

Yep, all that might be true. But that’s no excuse for giving your family second best. I don’t offer specific ideas on how to solve this issue except this: figure it out. What is important in your life gets your time & attention….

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Thank YouAs Children’s & Family Ministry Leaders, we are surrounded (hopefully!) by a team (staff and/or volunteers) committed to accomplishing great things in the lives of, well, children & family. My hope is we have an “attitude of gratitude” year-round. Obviously, however, this time of year highlights the opportunity to say “thanks”. Here are a few ways to say thanks for those who are in the trenches with you:

1. Simply say “thank you”.

Still, by far, the best way to express your gratitude. A genuine, heart-felt “thank you” simply can’t be beat.

2. An act of service based on a true understanding of that person.

Understand what makes that person feel truly appreciated, and serve them by doing it. It might be a pat on the back, a small gift, public recognition, or something else. Serve them by finding out & following through.

3. Handwritten notes. 

“Old school”, hand-written, note cards still beat high-tech communication any day of the week…period.

4. Treats.

Really, can anything beat a sweet, little morsel of thanks? Especially given to the men you need to thank? I don’t think so.

5. The gift of time. 

We are all insanely busy. Can you give your staff a…

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We talk about leadership all the time. Essentially, that’s what KidMin360 is all about – finding, equipping & developing leaders.

We often quote John Maxwell’s famous mantra:

Everything rises and falls on leadership.

And we believe it.

Leadership is talked about on numerous pastor/ministry blogs & websites. Magazines we read are full of leadership lessons. And new “must-read” leadership book seems to be published every week.

Imperfect LeaderThese are all great – and even necessary – resources that we all should be drawing from.

But sometimes, just maybe, immersing ourselves in all the great principles of leadership might leave us feeling the opposite of what’s intended. You see, it’s pretty easy to write about leadership. It’s not that hard to throw out lessons we’ve learned based on our experiences for others to read about.

It’s quite another thing to actually lead in the trenches.

Leadership is messy. It’s hard. It can be painful and very discouraging.

And, in spite of the step by step approaches we read all about, I’ve never met a perfect leader.

We all lead very IM-perfectly. And that can be frustrating, discouraging and disheartening.

It can leave us feeling very alone.

But I want to encourage you that…

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Recently I posted this on social media:

If you choose to remain under someone with low leadership capacity, be sure you are called & not just comfortable because you ARE inhibiting your own growth.

It was a thought rolling around in my thinking of late, so I thought I’d put it out there. Within 90 minutes I had 3 Facebook messages, 3 emails & 2 phone calls.

Poor leadership can manifest itself in many, many ways (each of which leads to many other challenges):

  • Unclear vision
  • Poor communication
  • Indecision
  • Complacency
  • Pride

The list could go on and on. Have you served under a poor leader? Are you serving under one now? Doesn’t it kind of make you feel like you’re about to head over a cliff?

I have served under poor leaders, and I truly hope I never do again. Why? Because whenever I am under a…

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By necessity, ministry – children’s & family, in particular – requires us to lead in perhaps the hardest leadership arena possible: the volunteer arena. However, whether volunteer or paid staff, leaders are leaders, and we need to focus our attention on them in order to accomplish our grand vision.

Easier said than done! But here’s a framework I have found successful for leading leaders:

1. Engage them.

Keys to engaging leaders include:

  • Simply building relationships for the sake of relationships. Get to know them and love them as individuals first.
  • Find out what makes them tick – what excites them? what are their skills & experiences? what are they passionate about? what makes them angry & what makes them cry?
  • Begin to align their passions with the vision you are pursuing.

2. Equip them. 

Too often we think of equipping as happening after they’ve committed to serving. Not so! Equipping begins with casting our grand vision for ministry and helping them see how their gifts, experience & passions align with that vision.

  • Link what makes them tick with how it can help accomplish he vision.
  • Be specific in calling them to a commitment…

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BatmanWe all do do things to build our team and make sure they are ready for the ministry that support our vision. Doing things such as equipping & developing leaders is critical. That is some of the deeper responsibility that will result in a thriving team.

But there are things we can do every week which will help our team thrive – and result in you being their hero! Here are a few ideas:

  1. Show appreciation tangibly. We all appreciate our team, but too often we don’t actually show it. Show them! It could be an intentional pat on the back and thank you, a personal, hand-written card (hands down the best way to show appreciation), public recognition, or some other creative way you choose.
  2. Solve problems. One of the quickest paths to influence is to solve people’s problems. In your ministry – if it’s anything like mine has been – you have dozens of problems come your way every week. Finding ways to be a problem solver will carry you a long, long way with your team. You don’t have to be the one who actually solves the problem, but find a way to get…

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SoccerI’m a huge sports fan – soccer, in particular – but don’t worry, this post isn’t about sports. However, let me start by saying that yesterday I watch an incredible soccer match. It was the final of the UEFA Champions League, perhaps the biggest tournament besides the World Cup.

Chelsea (England) played Bayern Munich (Germany). Coming in to the game, almost everyone picked Bayern Munich. They are a great team, but they were also playing in their home stadium, and Chelsea had 4 starters missing.

On paper, it looked like a sure Bayern Munich win.

Bayern Munich dominated the game. They had far more fans cheering for them. They had possession of the ball much more. They took way more shots and looked completely in control of the game. They had fewer fouls, and even got a penalty kick opportunity.

But they lost.

Why? Because the only thing that really matters is the final score. In the end, that’s all that’s measured in soccer. And Chelsea managed to win, in a shootout, and took home the trophy.

So bringing it around to our children’s & family ministries, we have to ask the question:

what really matters? What…

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TimeI was reading an article yesterday in the Harvard Business Review Blog called The Unimportance of Almost Everything. It’s a terrific article which I’d encourage you to check out.

It reminded me of something that so many leaders get caught in – doing what really doesn’t matter.

It might be getting caught up in the details of an event that should be handled by someone else on the team.

It might be immersing yourself in the minutia of curriculum preparation (I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see leaders spending massive amounts of time on this!).

It might be giving away time re-organizing the resource room.

It might be getting distracted by social media.

It might be worrying about whether your ministry is up with the latest trends.

It might be trying to create the perfect flyer for your program.

It might be _____________________________________ (fill in the blank with any of the endless ways we give away our time).

All of these can be important at times, requiring some of our attention. But the truth is, many of give give up time on things when, in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter. We tend to focus on what’s easy,…

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