6 Ways to Engage Your Team in Vision Setting

I love to work on vision. I’m a dreamer. It’s not hard for me to come up with new ideas, and I do it often. Not everyone has that mindset. I also think quickly and I realize not everyone does. In my present role, I work with a different church each year, and lead them through a process of vision setting. This means I’m engaging with a wider range of individuals, some who are excited about and comfortable with working on vision setting, and some who are not.

Here’s the big question: how can you make sure that everyone is able to fully engage in the process of setting vision for your church or organization?

  • Follow a written plan.

When you lead a team through the process of setting vision for your organization, make sure you first identify a written plan. Whether you use something developed by another, or like me, pick and choose exercises from a variety of sources, make sure that everyone has access to the plan before starting the process. Then each person – not just the leaders – can see where the process is heading.

I provide everyone with a booklet they can follow. One of my team has a difficulty hearing, so the booklet helps him know where we are even when he misses some of what is said in the discussion.

In addition to the overall plan document, for each meeting, I also provide a clear agenda, complete with breaks, and times listed for each exercise so everyone can see if we are falling behind. I try to be a little flexible with the time, and even skip some pages in the workbook if we are running behind schedule. The participants can check those out later if they want.

  • Use Variety

I like to do more than just a question-and-answer format. Some of the exercises I like to use for vision setting sessions are multiple choice or circle the best answer. Some are fill in the blank. I provide examples from other organizations that can spark ideas. I do a little leading but prefer to get the team to do most of the talking, especially since I am the consultant and will not be with the church as they move to implement the plan. My job is to make sure they can arrive at a common vision that is truly theirs. This means that I invite a lot of discussion. I do some work on a white board when trying to bring their ideas together so everyone can see any common threads. I even included a few colour charts to help visualize some exercises. I also like to add a few cartoons! Make sure to include times where people can get up and move around a bit. Sitting for too long will slow people’s thought processes down.

  • Go Slow

When leading a vision process, go slower than you think you should. There are always a few who think slowly and need time to think about things. Some ideas may be brand new and might need some mulling over. Some participants will read and process the directions for the next exercise slower so you can’t rush the process. Too much information too fast will not work. Instead, give time to process to keep everyone’s thinking clear.

  • Circle Back

I have found that it is helpful to present exercises that to get the team to see the present reality and the future possibilities from a number of different angles.

As I recently led our team through a visioning process, it was interesting to see some of the same ideas coming up throughout the session, and ideas coming up later that built on what was previously discussed.  As these topics came up multiple times, it resulted in more clarity.

  • Highlight Recurring Themes

When you are working through a vision process, note these recurring ideas so that everyone is aware of them. It’s obvious that these are the themes that will be a major contributor to the final vision statement and vision picture. Listen to how their answers to different questions tie together and form a common theme. As the leader of the session, you are in position to observe these connections and identify them for the group.

  • Listen to God

In the recent process I led, there were a few times where we just stopped and prayed, both talking to God and listening to Him as well. There were a few times where different members of the team felt God was saying something we needed to pay attention to. When there were others that concurred, we took those thoughts seriously and integrated them into the values and vision that were taking shape.

It was very encouraging to me to see our team fully engaged through a 6-hour vision marathon! Everyone contributed to the conversation and was involved in the process right from the beginning to the end.

What are some ways you have found helpful to keep people engaged in process of developing a vision or strategy?

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2023 Reading Experience


UNIQUELY YOU – by Ron Kitchens

Uniquely You: Transform Your Organization by Becoming the Leader Only You Can Be is an encouraging book for any leader. Ron Kitchen builds off his own experience and the many lessons he has learned along the way. Ron shares many stories as he highlights the value of building a great team. He gives a number of great ideas on how to build that team. I like how he puts family first, and makes that an important part of his business, so that everyone on the team has that same priority. His ideas have a great track record as his teams don’t have alot of turnover because they love working together.

This books has short chapters which will be appreciated by those who don’t like reading but still want to learn.

Ancient Leadership Lessons

Many of you would have great suggestions for books on leadership from your own reading and study. And the list would be quite varied as there are all kinds of books on leadership from many different aspects. I love to check out the latest leadership books, but I want to remind you of some ancient leadership lessons from an old book.

If you were to read the Bible with an ear for leadership concepts you would find many aspects to put into practice and learn from. While it is not a leadership book, the stories of different leaders in history can speak powerfully into our present leadership situations.

Nehemiah has been an example as he had a clear vision for how to repair the wall around Jerusalem, how he was able to recruit and delegate, and persevere through opposition. Ezra is an example of a leader as he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. These are some good examples for us.

Leaders, I would encourage you to read the Bible and look to the Bible to speak into and shape your leadership. Some of it is personal. We have examples of the faith of Abraham over a long period of time, continuing to trust God to be faithful to his promises. Had God given you a vision? Trust God to do his work through you to accomplish that vision. Continue to push ahead faithfully.

Joseph is an example of someone who persisted faithfully no matter the circumstances around him. All leaders face difficult situations from time to time, but we can continue to faithfully serve God even in those difficult times.

I like the desperation of Moses, begging God to go with him and the people. Moses said to God, “if you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” (Exodus 33:15) We need to have that kind of desperation for God to go with us too. As children of God, we know that we can accomplish little of value unless He goes with us. Christian leaders need to have that desperation of Moses that God go ahead and with you in all your endeavors.

We can learn from some of the negative examples as well. We can learn the devastation of listening to the crowd, as Aaron did, when he allowed the people to make a golden calf because Moses was gone to long. We can learn from the bad example of Eli who did not correct his sons when they disobeyed God. We can learn the importance of leading and not letting the crowd mislead us. We can learn the importance of following through and even discipling those under us when they do wrong.

We can learn from the example of the twelve spies the Israelites sent into the land God had promised them. They came back with stories, but there were two very different stories. Ten of them saw danger everywhere. They even exaggerated their stories – talking of giants who made us look like grasshoppers. But there were two others, Joshua and Caleb, who spoke of the wonderful fruit of the land and that it was flowing with “milk and honey”. It is a great place, and we can trust God to go ahead of us and give us the land. We can learn how the different views and the different stories we tell influence the people we lead in powerful ways. The Israelites listened to the majority and accepted the negative picture. They chose fear instead of trust because they listened to frightened leaders. God made them wander the wilderness until all that generation was dead and gone. Only then, were Joshua and Caleb able to enter the land with the next generation. What story are you telling? Are you pointing people to the problems or to the God who helps us through the problems?

And of course, we can look at how Jesus led his group of twelve. There are many leadership skills we can learn in how he led that small group. We can see how he loved and cared for those under his leadership, we can see examples he set when he washed their feet, we can learn from how he exhorted Peter when he misunderstood what Jesus’ plan was. We can learn from his commitment to the plan, never wavering.

Yes, learn from the great leadership books and seminars, but do not forget the ancient leadership wisdom from God’s word that still speaks into our leadership roles today.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW – By John Eldredge

Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus by John Eldredge is a book that will shock some people while encouraging others. He writes about Jesus, but not in the distant manner that we often think of him. Eldredge presents Jesus as a human in a way that few, if any, have before. It is a great reminder that Jesus was a human who walked this earth in a certain place in time within a specific community and with other human friends. Eldredge points out where Jesus responds with emotion like any other human person. He, in his words, is trying to “clear the religious fog” around who our Lord and Saviour Jesus was and is. Do you want to know Jesus better? This book will help you in that search. Your ideas may be challenged, but I do believe the person of Jesus will be revealed as a person you can actually communicate with and live your life with.

No Insignificant Moments. No Insignificant People.

The moments of our life are filled with little decisions. A mother in Zambia stirs her nshima. A farmer in Peru harvests his coffee. A businessman in Japan exits an elevator. Life is going on in every corner of the world. Insignificant moments? Insignificant people?

A kind word encourages a friend. A “thank you” lifts the spirits of the barista who prepared your coffee. A word of encouragement helps a young person decide on a career. Small moments that make a difference.

A secretary phones in sick, and a temp gets a new job. A student calls for prayer and a movement takes shape A neighbor introduces himself to another neighbor – and introduces him to the Lord three years later.

A woman pours perfume on a man’s dirty feet and wipes them with her hair – and Jesus makes sure it is recorded in history. An impatient soldier shoves a spear into Jesus’ side to make sure he is dead – and fulfills prophecy. Small, seemingly insignificant moments, with significant effects.

John Maxwell is famous for his writing and speaking on leadership. I was amazed at his ability to find good quotes and the right facts – until I heard he has a crew of people who do much of that work for him. Those who have made significant contributions to the world require the support of people in the background. Unknown people are in the background of all who seem to have made significant contributions to the world.

A friend is recognized for his act of bravery by the Canadian government for helping a fellow passenger to safety when their small plane crashed. He’s seen as a hero now, but in the moment simply decided to act. And it turned out to be a significant decision. A choice made in the moment, but a lasting impact and recognition.

There are no insignificant moments. All the seemingly insignificant decisions of seemingly insignificant moments shape who you become. Everything we do, as insignificant as it may seem, has significance. Those small decisions that we make in a moment accumulate in your character. They shape you and determine who you become.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

the Apostle Paul

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” writes the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10: 31. Brush your teeth for the glory of God? Share your testimony for the glory of God? Every moment that feels insignificant can glorify God. God is at work using the moments, the words, and the actions, of each person. God uses the average, unimportant people to bring Him glory.

Every moment can make a difference. Every word can be powerful. Every person has value and purpose.

May you live a life of significance as you surrender your life to the pursuit of the glory of God. Invite him into every aspect of your life, every decision you make, and you will live a life of significance in His eyes.

May you be a leader who recognizes the value of the insignificant moments and insignificant people.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


DISCIPLINES OF A GODLY MAN – R. Kent Hughes

Disciplines of a Godly Man is a call to men in the church and home to stand up and be whom God has called them to be. Kent Hughes challenges men to step up and discipline themselves with chapters dealing on personal soul issues, relationships, character, and ministry. The church is looking for good men to give themselves to the work of ministry. God is looking for good men to give themselves to leading in the home, the church, and in the culture. Hughes does a good job reminding us that this is not about legalism: doing something in order to gain God’s favor. In fact, this is the opposite. This is about living in such a way that we honor the One who already loves us and calls us to a disciplined life of faith in Him. This would be a great book to walk through with a Men’s Group.

BOOK REVIEWS: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.

MASTER LEADERS – by George Barna

If you want some leadership tips from a number of leaders in one book, this is it. Barna has interviewed thirty leaders and summarized their responses into sixteen keys to success. The leaders are from various backgrounds: Politics, business, sports, etc. The leaders share from their own experiences, including good examples of how they followed through or fell short of the leadership tips they are sharing. This is an excellent book for anyone wanting a good primer on leadership.

Leaders Inspire Hope

People need hope. There are too many things going on in our world that cause people to fear and to worry.

We can all find things to complain about or worry about. I don’t think we need any training in this area. It seems to come so naturally to us. It is much harder to look for and find the good in life, in business, and in ministry.

My grandma was a good pessimist – if there is such a thing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting her down, but she was incredibly creative in finding things to worry about. If you are going to be a leader that inspires hope you will need to be an optimist. You will need to be creative in seeing the good in things and in finding things to smile about.

Hope is an antidote to fear. Hope teaches that just maybe we can make a situation a little better. If we can instill a little hope in the people we work with, we will have done a great kindness to humanity. And we may very well find that our team wants to work all the harder for us because they enjoy the environment and are excited about the good they are able to be part of.

I believe in God. I believe that He is over all things, so I can trust him to work in situations I am in. I know that no matter how dark life may get, God, through His Spirit is walking with me. Even the worst situation can become more hopeful when we realize God is looking after us.

I’ve come to recognize the value of inspiring hope in the people around me, and I’d encourage you to do the same. It can be difficult to know where to start, so here are a few suggestions:

  1. Focus on the positive things. You could use appreciative inquiry when planning ahead or looking to improve something. Appreciative inquiry is more interested in what is going well and building from that, than what is not going well and how to get rid of that. The focus is on what is positive.
  2. Be kind. People receive enough negative messages without us joining in. Be kind to others. Say something nice about who they are or how they have impacted you. Say thank you and please. Be respectful of them as a person.
  3. Seek creative solutions. Be more interested in dreaming wild dreams and allowing people to get carried away in their imaginations than stifling any conversation that goes a little off the beaten path.
  4. Be a giver. Give more than you take. Be generous with your time and money. Seek to bless others rather than receive.
  5. Be willing to learn from those who have figured out how to do something well. Instill hope by showing your team that others found solutions, and you can too.
  6. Be humble. Don’t let your pride prevent others from blossoming into incredible people. Be okay with helping others become their best, even if that means that at some point the student surpasses the teacher. That’s actually one of the best compliments you could receive.
  7. Share information freely. Sometimes hope is overcome by fear because people don’t see the whole picture. Communicate well so that people will know what they need to know.
  8. Be a friend. Sometimes people just need someone to walk with them, or to listen, and try to understand.
  9. Be a pray-er. Do not hesitate to go to God with the problems of the day. Ask God to help you. And pray that God will encourage others. Pray with people and for people. God can give hope no matter the circumstance.

Hope says there is a better tomorrow. Hope says I will have others to walk with me along the way. Hope says no matter the problem, we can find solutions.

Let’s be leaders that inspire hope in the people we work with.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

8 Ideas to Keep Joy in Your Board Meetings!

Many pastors and church leaders see board meetings as a necessary evil. It’s a meeting that has to happen once a month, so I will just endure every boring moment of it and get back to the real things of leading a church or organization.

I’m on the other side of the equation. I like my job and am serving in my calling, and so I enjoy board meetings and look forward to meeting together with key decision makers as we guide our church to a better future. This is the one time a month that you get to interact with the people who help you make the best decisions and look after the big picture of the church or organization you lead.

Here are a few ideas I rely on to make board meetings times of joy.

  1. Have the right attitude.

Some of us are naturally more interested in meetings than others. It might help to remind us that this is the group of people most invested in us leading well and moving the church forward. This is a time to look at the big picture of the organization and people that God has called you to lead, and entrusted to your care. What a privilege and what a responsibility! Prepare for your board meeting with an attitude of expectancy, as you seek to hear from God together.

2. Plan it.

Do not show up to a board meeting, whether you are chairing it or participating in it, without preparing yourself to be aware and ready for what will be discussed and decided. If you are participating, review materials that have been provided in advance. If you are leading, make sure you create a clear agenda and distribute it to each participant. Think through, even pray through, the agenda. Identify what needs to be discussed at this meeting, and what could instead be addressed in an email or a one-on-one conversation. The agenda will also remind you of remaining items left from previous meetings and identify how the success of the meeting will be measured. I sometimes put a suggested time marker for each item so the rest of the board knows if we are on time or starting to spend too much time on a certain issue. With effective planning, the agenda can even include an end time.

Sometimes the joy is drained out of board members because meetings drag on and on with no clear idea of when you will be done.

3. Provide information in advance.

Make sure that all pertinent information is sent out to the board members at least a few days before the meeting. Be clear which items are for information only and what will be discussed. Send minutes, agenda, and reports to everyone so time isn’t wasted reviewing these during the meeting.

4. Personalize your meeting.

Take time to be personable. It’s okay to schedule time to catch up with people and laugh at a story together. Some leaders suggest having everyone share a highlight and something they have been struggling with. The business of a board meeting has to be about people, so make sure the people on the board know they are not just decision-making machines, but appreciated for who they are and what they contribute.

5. Focus on your vision.

When you meet, make sure that you allow your organization’s vision and values guide what you talk about.

It should be a rare occasion to spend time on issues outside of your vision. If your vision is compelling and you are seeing progress, then it will be exciting to talk about what is going well. If things are not going well, then take some time to pray and ask God to give you creative solutions how to move forward.

6. Celebrate what is going well.

Celebrate something every meeting! Celebrations help add joy. Do whatever you want. Get everyone up to do a “happy dance” or high five each other. Maybe you bring in a cake and balloons. At minimum, recognize the wins and celebrate what God has accomplished through your efforts. And before you move on, determine if there is anything that can be done to continue to build on those wins.

7. Prayerfully plan how to address what is not going well.

Often there are things in your church or organization that are not going well. As a board, you need to decide how to respond to those challenges. Ask God to help you determine if there needs to be some tweaking or a complete re-think. Sometimes a small change can make a big improvement. Sometimes it may mean personnel changes or adjustments to processes.

8. Always look ahead.

Your meeting should leave you excited about what is next. Your vision should continue to compel you to move ahead. I hope you can leave each meeting motivated and encouraged to keep going. Ask God to continue to give you clear direction as you move forward.

Joy comes from knowing you are doing what God has called you to, seeing God at work in what has gone well, and prayerfully anticipating what God will do next as you move ahead together!

I hope you have great joy in your board meetings.

Keep looking up,

Andy

15 Values of a Person of Integrity

Blog 15 Values of a Person of Integrity

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integrity

ĭn-tĕg′rĭ-tē

noun

  1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
  2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
  3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

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Integrity is a characteristic that makes most lists describing good leaders. As you read the list of definitions of integrity below, evaluate yourself as to how you match up. If you want to become a better leader, with integrity, choose one to work on.

You are a person of integrity if:

  1. You are the same person in every circumstance. While we may act differently when with friends or family or coworkers, we should display the same integrity in every case, no matter who you are talking to, or what context you are in, or how much you have had to drink or how tired you are. Consistency.
  2. You are quick to acknowledge mistakes your mistakes, such as failed communication or broken promises.
  3. You are who you say you are. Your actions match your words.
  4. You are honest. Never surrendering to the draw of the white lie. Truth is a high value for you.
  5. You are a person of few excuses. You never use “sorry” as an excuse or to get out of something. If you say “sorry”, you also look at how to correct the situation.
  6. You are never satisfied with producing low quality work. You always do your best.
  7. You make the tough calls. You know when to shut down a useless endeavor, when to address concerns of team members, and when to challenge someone to do better. You do not allow problems to simmer.
  8. You do not throw others under the bus to save yourself. You take personal responsibility.
  9. You are trustworthy. If you promote a new event or project, people trust that you will do the work necessary to make it the best it can be.
  10. You want to be understood, not just heard. You learn how to communicate well.
  11. You are quick to give credit where credit is due. You never claim credit for another’s ideas or work.
  12. You respect people, whether a boss or employee, whether a team member or a client.
  13. You are persistent, and follow through, not giving up easily. You look for ways to makes something work, rather than an excuse to give up.
  14. You are ethical. You are more concerned about doing the right things than just doing things right. You do the right things even when no one is looking.
  15. You have a high regard for the standards of your profession, calling, and position.

I hope you measure up to these 15 values, if not, you might choose one or two to start working on right now. Leaders, let’s be people of integrity.

Keep Looking up,

Andy Wiebe