Getting More Done by Doing Less

This is a Google Tech Talk by Marc Lesser. Even though he comes from a Zen background, there are still some excellent points, especially for those of us called to lead churches in this culture. One of the things he talks about (especially at the end of this) is about chaos/innovation. It makes sense but I had never put those two things together before.

He says something as simple as wearing your watch on the other wrist puts you into ‘chaos.’ It shakes things up. From this unfamiliarity innovation can be birth. I see how this is possible. Of course we have all heard the quip “if you keep doing what you always have done you will keep getting what you have always had…” or something like that. If we continue to do things the same way, there really isn’t much chance for innovation.

Chaos forces us to look at things differently. It forces us to access what is important and what is not. If we are thrown into chaos by some type of catastrophe, we find ourselves doing things differently. This also means that we will look at things differently too.

One of the things I’m taking away from this is to not fear the chaos. Also it might be good to create my own chaos from time to time. Perhaps something as simple as changing the time of a meeting, or the order of service might help us to find ways to innovate. This is not change for change’s sake, but rather using change (or chaos) as a tool toward innovation.

In the UMC we are in a type of chaos with the decline in membership/worship/etc. Yet, this has been such a slow decline that we have been able to adapt rather than being thrown into complete chaos. We still believe we can ‘fix’ the things that are wrong. Perhaps it is time to make drastic changes to throw us into complete chaos. For example…how much chaos would we be in if we stopped statistical measurements? What if we canceled worship services? What if we stopped having our administrative meetings in the church building? You get the idea. We would be forced to think differently. That could be a very good thing.

The Illusion of Leadership

Henri Nouwen writes,

The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there. Our lives are filled with examples which tell us that leadership asks for understanding and that understanding requires sharing. So long as we define leadership in terms of preventing or establishing precedents, or in terms of being responsible for some kind of abstract “general good,” we have forgotten that no God can save us except a suffering God, and that no man can lead his people except the man who is crushed by his sins. Personal concern means making Mr. Harrison the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forget my many other obligations, my scheduled appointments and long-prepared meetings, not because they are not important but because they lose their urgency in the face of Mr. Harrison’s agony. Personal concern makes it possible to experience that going after the “lost sheep” is really a service to those who were left alone.

Many will put their trust in him who went all the way, out of concern for just one of them. The remark “He really cares for us” is often illustrated by stories which show that forgetting the many for the one is a sign of true leadership.

I’ve been discovering the reality of this the past year or so. It has caused me to wonder if by defining leadership by our projects and programs we have in reality moved away from the kind of leadership Jesus displayed. As my schedule gets filled, I find it more difficult to care for the ‘lost ones.’ As my time gets busy I find my view of the “greatest good” defined by the “numbers served.” Yet, the One I’ve been called to follow defined himself as one who was willing to leave the ‘numbers’ and search for the “one lost.” My my life be reflective of His.