Today I’m filling our van with our family and heading on a 20 hour drive across the country to VA for a family member’s wedding. I’m looking forward to the wee hours of the night when I will be listening to a book by Jim Collins that I’ve been wanting to “read” for a long time: Great By Choice. Yeah, I know, I’m a nerd…but this is one reason I’m really looking forward to the ride! (As strange as that may seem…it’ll be a total of 40+ hours in the van and most of those will be through the night, so I should get through this and a few other audio books too!!!)TonyTiger

I’m especially looking forward to this because one of the best books I read while studying Organizational Leadership a few years back was Good to Great by Jim Collins (for some reason I always visualize Tony the Tiger saying “Good to GRRRREAT!” when I see this book…I digress…)


Cover_Good_2_Gr8Back to the book: In it he wrote about how they took a research team and analyzed what made certain companies great while others remained mediocre despite having the same opportunities. They found that the type of leadership was key, a humble/servant leader (among other traits) who got the right people on board and the wrong people off the “bus” (!). They found that these leaders also took the time to move people around that might be the right people just doing the wrong job even before figuring out where they were taking the company (or as they talk about “the wrong seat on the bus”). He found that all of these Great companies had disciplined people, with disciplined thought, that carried out disciplined action. In their disciplined thought, they were willing to be real about their strengths and their weaknesses and truly confront what they were best at and what they weren’t the best at. What they were passionate about and where their companies financial survival came from. From that place they were able to make disciplined decisions to guide the rest of their journey because they focused their energies on the intersection of their passion, ability, and what drove their economic engine. Once they discovered where those things intersected that’s where they unswervingly invested themselves.

As much as this book was a great book about some “how to’s” of business, I think it also provides tremendous insight for us as ministry leaders. We, even more than in business, need to be looking for that intersection of people, passion, abilities, giftings, and the calling of God over lives and ministries. And when we find that connection, we should be focusing our attention and energy on those things and not get distracted by the many things that often come our way. This book has helped me grow in leading people and ministries and I would definitely recommend it if you’re leading a church, ministry, NGO, or business.

One of the first things I felt God impress on my heart when we moved to Minneapolis to plant a church in 2009 was to begin to connect with people who were helping to start the church to discover their passions and giftings and then to do everything in my ability to find where those things connected with what we were called to do as a church. We worked hard to connect the right people to the right ministries (finding the “right seat on the bus”) while also working hard to be clear on where we felt God calling us as a church. Here we are a little over five years later and I can tell you that we have not “arrived” and we don’t have all the answers, but I know that seeking to engage people in their giftings and passions while focusing resolutely on the direction that God has called us to go (even at the expense of not doing really good ministry ideas) has made our community life, ministry, and outreach flow a lot more naturally and today the vast majority of this new church is actively involved in ministry and mission. This next month we are gathering all of our ministry teams together for the first time on a Saturday to spend time working as teams to see how we can continue to grow in our calling as a church as we continue to connect the right people to the right ministries and relationships. Once again, that doesn’t mean that we have arrived, but we are on our way! I feel that over the last five years we have been working on getting the right people on the “bus” and in the right places on the “bus” and we’re all excited to be heading to the same place!

Speaking of that, I need to go pack the van!!!

Have you read Good To Great or Great By Choice? What did you think?

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