Oct 8, 2010 • By David Murray • 1 Comment
Not quite sure who, but someone once said, “Tomorrow is the only day on the devil’s calendar.” I disagree actually because the Devil can also destroy our souls by making us look back with despair at all our yesterdays. But it’s certainly true that many, many souls are in hell because they left a convicting Gospel sermon saying,”Tomorrow. Tomorrow.” Felix is in very bad and very large company (Acts 24:25).And it’s not just Christians who see the devastating effects of procrastination (derived from a Latin word meaning “to put off for tomorrow”). Numerous scholars have contributed to a recent book about it called The Thief of Time. At $55 it probably won’t be near the top of your book-buying priorities. But The New Yorker has done us a favor with an extensive review. As that review is rather lengthy, here’s a summary to help us consider our own spiritual procrastination, and maybe even provide some sermon material as we address the multitudes whose response to every sermon is, “Tomorrow.” 1. Procrastination is painful. We all have accusing items on our to-do list that have been gathering dust and gnawing at our consciences for weeks and even months. Why do we avoid unpleasant tasks when the act of avoidance only increases our discomfort. 2. It is costly. Among examples quoted of loss through procrastination is Alex Taylor’s recent history of G.M., “Sixty to Zero,” in which he highlights how key executives delayed and delayed inevitable decisions. One of his key conclusions is “Procrastination doesn’t pay.” 3. It is irrational. Piers Steel defines procrastination as willingly deferring something even though you expect the delay to make you worse off. Samuel Johnson said: “I could not forbear to reproach myself for having so long neglected what was unavoidably to be done, and of which every moment’s idleness increased the difficulty.”
4. It thrives in vagueness. David Allen (of “Get things done” fame) insists on clear and concrete task lists. He says, “the vaguer the task, or the more abstract the thinking it requires, the less likely you are to finish it.” 5. It feeds on perfectionism. Procrastinators are always waiting for the perfect time. The New Yorker highlights General McClellan’s excessive planning and preparation which so infuriated President Lincoln during the Civil War. He was always asking for more troops and more weapons and more time to plan the ideal battle. 6. It picks the easy route. In an experiment, “people were asked to pick one movie to watch that night and one to watch at a later date. Not surprisingly, for the movie they wanted to watch immediately, people tended to pick lowbrow comedies and blockbusters, but when asked what movie they wanted to watch later they were more likely to pick serious, important films. The problem, of course, is that when the time comes to watch the serious movie, another frothy one will often seem more appealing.” 7. It often arises when we have too much to do. When we are overwhelmed with to-dos we often feel there is no single to-do worth doing. 8. It is increasing. “According to Piers Steel, a business professor at the University of Calgary, the percentage of people who admitted to difficulties with procrastination quadrupled between 1978 and 2002. In that light, it’s possible to see procrastination as the quintessential modern problem.” Read the whole article here. Or you could do it tomorrow.
Oct 8, 2010 • By David Murray • 0 Comments
Fastcompany analyzed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s big speech this week. The results are, um, below. The Scottish version is “Eh” and would probably feature a bit too prominently in my word cloud too.
Oct 7, 2010 • By David Murray • 0 Comments
Although there were meetings before the Fall, sin’s arrival has certainly multiplied them, complicated them, and often emptied them of purpose. Here are seven quick ways to lessen the effects of the Fall on your daily meetings.1. Schedule for brevity. State start AND finish times on meeting invites. And gradually shorten the time between both! 2. Stand. Almost all Google meetings are stand-up meetings. 3. Invite no more than seven people. Research shows this is the optimum number for an effective meeting. 4. Have a visible ticking clock. This is another Google trick. But they project a 4-foot-tall timer on the wall that counts down the meeting. Not sure that will work at PRTS. Or the next time I sit down with my wife! 5. The best time for a meeting is Tuesday at 3pm. OK, that’s a joke. But seemingly Tuesday is the most productive day of the week and also the day most people are likely to show up. 6. Decide rather than dither. Managers (some pastors too?) spend more than 50% of their time in meetings, but Bain & Company research shows that two-thirds of meetings end before participants can make important decisions. Not surprisingly, 85% of executives are dissatisfied with the efficiency and effectiveness of their companies’ meetings. 7. Celebrate bad meetings. Dan Burrier says “there are no five words that worry me more than, ‘we had a great meeting.’” He argues that “bad meetings” usually produce more results! Obviously some of these are a bit tongue-in-cheek. More seriously, Ron Ashkenaz gives some pretty obvious basic meeting rules:
Be clear about what you want to accomplish; invite the right people; send out pre-reading in advance; have an agenda and follow it with discipline; send out notes with key decisions and action steps.
Then Ashkenaz moans:
Unfortunately these basic and widely understood guidelines for effective meetings are probably the least followed procedures in corporate history. If the government conducted “meeting audits” almost every company would fail. Most managers still complain about ineffective meetings, and then proceed to schedule multiple meetings and run them poorly. It’s an amazing phenomenon.
But Ashkenaz admits what even the most fervent meeting-haters will agree with in their weaker moments: meetings are necessary and can even be beneficial. They encourage social interaction, keep everyone in the loop, and help people to feel valued.
These psychological drivers of meetings are very powerful — and usually trump all of the logical and rational “meeting management” advice that is doled out in courses and articles. In other words, what seems like wasted or unproductive time for many managers is actually fulfilling important personal and organizational needs.
Although I probably fall too much on the anti-meeting side, I must say that when well-conducted, meetings fulfill spiritual needs as well. In my last congregation we sometimes had 10 elders and 12 deacons in the same meeting. And although we often had controversial issues to deal with (like building a new church!), these meetings were actually much more like spiritual fellowships than board meetings. Spiritual bonds were deepened and appreciation for each other grew as we saw the various insights and gifts God had blessed different men with. I usually arrived home with the sense that God had once again kept His promise that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is in the midst. Ultimately that’s what makes a meeting good.
Oct 6, 2010 • By David Murray • 2 Comments
This week Tim and I talk about multi-site churches and pastoring. The fundamental question for multi-site churches and mega-churches is: “Can you properly be called a person’s pastor when you don’t know the people you preach to, and they don’t know you?” (John 10:14). Or put it another way: “How can you be someone’s pastor when you don’t know their names?” (John 10:3).