Joshua Gagnon

thoughts on Jesus, leadership, and the Church.

Ep 169: What It Takes to Be a Great Kids Ministry Volunteer

Welcome to the 169th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to this podcast and it has helped you and your team in any way, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher or take the time to share it on social media.
Do you have a question for Pastor Josh about leadership, ministry, or any other topic we’ve covered on the podcast so far? Submit your questions to info@joshuagagnon.com or @joshgagnon on Twitter and Pastor Josh might answer it on a future episode!

Today's episode features an interview with Danielle Hazlett, the Kids Director of Next Level Church. You can reach out to Danielle directly at danielle.hazlett@nextlevel.church.


You can read the full transcription of this episode below.


Daniel King: Welcome to another episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. My name is Daniel and today I have the awesome privilege of sitting down with Danielle Hazlett. Danielle, thank you for being on the podcast today.

Danielle Hazlett: Thank you for having me. Hello.

Daniel: Danielle is our NLC Kids Director here at Next Level Church, that means she’s responsible for a good sized school worth of children each and every weekend across all of our locations, doing an incredible, incredible job of building teams and leading leaders. You want to just explain to people your job? What would you say you do? I mean, it’s easy to say you’re the kids director, but what does that mean? What does that look like?

Danielle: Sure. It means a lot of things, actually. I oversee all of the kids’ program at all of our locations. I work closely with our leaders at each location within the kids program. We call them our kids coordinators, and then also with our location pastors, to just make sure that they are providing the best possible experiences for our children who come through the doors and so we just work together to make sure that we’re having great culture and doing things with excellence.

Daniel: Yeah, one of the things that I really appreciate about you, Danielle, I think you’ve done a great job with is coming from not a ministry background before this. What was your job before this? I forget the title of what you did.

Danielle: I was a mental health counselor for children and adolescents.

Daniel: Yeah, so you were used to working with kids directly and with their parents and you don’t do a whole lot of working with kids anymore but one of the things that I really appreciate that you brought to the role is that organization and structure and systems where you’ve been able to really focus on how do we develop people and what policies are needed and how do we train well and those kind of things rather than just somebody who really likes kids, although I know you like kids, but you don’t need that day to day with kids, you really are spending most of your time with adults and with leaders.

Danielle: Yes, it’s very different for me now, but I’m loving it and it’s great to be able to pour into adult leaders and know that in doing so I’m having an effect on children and their families as well.

Daniel: Yeah, so over the last couple of years, Danielle has been doing a fantastic job of like we said, leading the leaders, and in our kids departments at all of our locations, what we call NLC Kids, and that encompasses everything from picking cirriculum to training people to visiting locations to when we’re opening a new location making sure they have the right equipment and how do they need to decorate and what do we need to change to constantly be getting better and checking in and all those kinds of things that go into it. Just doing a wonderful job of that. So on today’s episode I asked Danielle to join us because I think one of the unique things about kids ministry is that you need a lot of volunteers. We call them team members but we’ll probably call them volunteers because that’s what most people call them. It takes a lot of people to pull of kids ministry. Every experience we have, we have a full kids area and fully staffed and there might be more or less kids at some experiences than others, depending on time of day, weather, all of those things, but at the end of the day we have to have the same amount of volunteers at that minimum standard, no matter what. So that’s a unique thing about kids ministry is people aren’t going to stay in there and serve two or three experiences on a Sunday, they’re going to do one and so that means you need a whole other team over again. How many volunteers would you say it on average it takes a weekend right now across all of our locations, a couple hundred probably?

Danielle: I would say, yeah, easily.

Daniel: It’s too early for math.

Danielle: It is. We require 22 team members per experience that we have, to be fully staffed and to provide the best that we can for the kids.

Daniel: Yeah, so you’re easily looking at a couple hundred people and of course not every person serves every weekend, either, so there’s probably 4 or 500 people who are background checked and trained at this point across all locations, which is incredible, so I wanted Danielle to talk to us a little bit about how she works with her leaders and what has made good team members and volunteers, how we’ve developed them, and some of those things. So first question, out of the box, well I guess I asked you some questions already but first question related to that topic, what are some of the key qualities or characteristics that you’ve noticed, just a couple of them that you’ve noticed make for a great kids team member? Because I know, to give context, in the church I grew up in and probably a lot of our listeners’ churches, kids tend to be that thing where it’s like, let’s just find the people who loves babies and who’s willing to be with children, you know, you attract people who love kids, which isn’t a bad thing, of course we want people who like children, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a great leader, that doesn’t necessarily make them great at connecting with parents or leading a classroom, and so those can be two different things. So what are some of the characteristics you look for, if you picked our best team members at our locations, what do they have in common?

Danielle: Sure. I think first I would say is passion. We definitely want somebody who’s in our ministry to have a passion, not only for working for children, but also helping them to learn about Jesus and the hope they can have in Him and to come alongside parents and how they disciple their kids on a weekly basis or daily basis.

Daniel: So how do you identify passion? How do you know, obviously, once they’re serving you can probably see that, but before somebody starts volunteering, they say I want to be a volunteer in kids, how do you kind of figure out if they have that or not?

Danielle: Well, I think the first thing we ask them is “why”? Why do you want to serve in kids? Where does that come from? We don’t want anybody in kids, you can tell a volunteer that you have that is just not passionate. You can tell they don’t want to be there. One of the things we say, and that’s very important to us in NLC Kids is we’re not a childcare service, we disciple children, so we want people that are really going to want to pour into kids as young as a few weeks old, you can still mention Jesus and sing to them about Jesus and just even be that trusting adult figure in their life. And we want our volunteers to know that they’re not just a caregiving service, that they’re doing so much more than that and passion is an important part of that.

Daniel: Yeah, so I think, there’s a little side tangent I’m take us on there, because you just mentioned that. I think that’s a great thought and something very important that you’ve really gotten all of our teams to say a lot. We’re not here to babysit, we’re not here to provide childcare. So I can’t let that go by without asking you, what does that look like? What’s the difference between what we’re doing and what childcare does? Childcare is focused on safety and letting parents go to work and all those kind of things, I understand the schedule part, but obviously we care about safety too, and so what is it specifically, the goal, what are you hoping happens? Is it about connecting with parents? Is it about getting to know a kid on a personal level? What is it that makes it not childcare but makes it successful?

Danielle: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s both of those things and more. Connecting with parents, engaging with the child in their day to day lives, getting to know their strengths, getting to know what their interests are. Also we provide a really good curriculum that is for all ages that is fun and exciting and engaging and provides kids with a great learning experience that’s appropriate for them in their age and the development that they’re at. So we want them to learn in a way that’s going to want them to come back and know how fun church can be and how great Jesus is and so it’s all those things.

Daniel: So how do you know if you’re succeeding at that? Like if you walk into a location this Sunday morning that you’re visiting, how do you know if that’s a discipleship environment or a childcare environment? What are the things that you notice?

Danielle: If it’s a discipleship environment, you can see the energy in the team members, you can tell they’re happy and having fun, that they’re on the floor playing with the kids, that they’re engaging the children in worship, that they’re providing them with the curriculum that has been provided by us, they are talking to families as their parents are dropping their kids off, asking how was their morning, how was their week, anything helpful to know about today that can help me to provide a great experience for the kiddo, and then making sure that they’re sending resources home with the parents at the end of the experience and following up with them throughout the week. So some of that I can’t see going to a location, obviously, but those are some of the things, we can just see it’s an exciting, lively environment.

Daniel: As a parent myself that’s one of the things I appreciate. When they’re asking me and specifically when they’re remembering something we’ve talked about before, right? It’s like if I’m picking up my kid and they say, “How did his spelling test go? He mentioned that two weeks ago.” If they remember something, it feels like they’re caring about my children’s development, not just they got here and they didn’t choke on a goldfish cracker and we sent them back to you safely, you know? There’s a big difference there in just the perception that you have as a parent and the handouts that get given as you leave that say, this is how you can follow up and engage during the week. When the volunteer team member is giving you that and saying, “Hey, Josiah bring this back next week. I can’t wait to see activity number three.” That makes me so excited as a parent because I feel like they’re caring about my child’s growth and them as a person.

Danielle: Yeah, absolutely. When they bring, we encourage kids to bring what we use are challenge cards that have scripture on them that we can reflect on during the week and an activity, when they bring those things back we know they’re learning, so it’s been really cool to see that happen.

Daniel: Cool. So let’s get back from that sidetrack I took us on. So passion was one. What’s another characteristic that comes to mind of another great team member?

Danielle: I would say...there’s so many different things. I think being relational is really important. Having the ability to build positive relationships with parents, with the children, and with one another. I think that’s really important to build team unity and for leaders to be able to be confident in approaching families and being able to connect with them is important and I think the more relational we can be, the more change you can see within a child or their family. So I think that is really, really important and it helps build trust when kids feel accepted and when they’re poured into, it can be a really positive thing. So I think that’s also very important.

Daniel: Yeah, you probably know more about this than me given your background, but I know one of the things we’ve talked about a little bit before and just being relational reminds me of this is culture or child development or I don’t know what it is, food we eat or I don’t know what it is, but kids are different today than when I was a kid and I think because of that, ministry has to change, right? And so one of the things, I know a conversation we had before is what used to be great for youth group when I was in youth group is now great for a third grader, a fourth grader, a fifth grader, not a sixth, seventh or eighth grader. And what used to be great for a third, fourth or fifth grader is now good for a first grader or second grader. Culture has just shifted where kids are getting exposed to more sooner, maturing or developing sooner, yet not necessarily having the emotional development to handle those things but the things they’re surrounded by. And so that’s where I think that relational piece really comes in is I remember the reason I loved youth group when I was in eighth grade was because of my youth leader, right? They came to my basketball games, they knew me, right? I was with the same eight people and the same leader every time I showed up there. And I think when you say relational, that’s what I think of is the best team members for a third, fourth, or fifth grader are the ones who are in that kid’s life and in that parent’s life in the way that used to be for a seventh grader or eighth grader is now for a fourth grader or a fifth grader. And so do you encourage team members to be in touch with parents, with kids outside of Sunday morning? To reach out to them? To go to their basketball game, whatever that looks like?

Danielle: Absolutely. We definitely want our team members to be doing that. We send out welcome cards when they come and inviting them back, we send cards out when we don’t see them for a while and in addition to that, they can also reach out during the week. One of the things we’ve just created that we’re going to start implementing is a card that is for team members that says, hey let’s connect, and it actually will be their space for the team member to write their contact information so that they can give it to a parent to say, “Hey, I’m Tommy’s small group leader, he keeps talking about his baseball game, I would love to come and check it out and be in the stands cheering for him.” So that’s something that we in the works.

Daniel: I didn’t even know about that. I love that, that’s awesome.

Danielle: Yeah, that’s brand new. So we want to really try to figure out those connections. I think what we see a lot of today is a lack of connection in relationships. And a lot of that, I don’t want to go on a big tangent about technology and all that.

Daniel: Yeah, we can just blame Facebook and move on.

Danielle: Yeah, it’s really been challenging I think to have connection in person, face to face, connection. A lot of kids and even adults are behind a screen or on a phone and can’t even be in the same room together without being on technology, so I think that’s a challenge that in ministry we face and I’m learning as I go how to navigate through that, even in ministry and as a parent. It’s tough, but we’re just really trying as hard as we can to kind of brainstorm how we can help build those relationships.

Daniel: Yeah, I think that’s awesome. That’s a great idea. Alright so we’ve got they’re passionate, they’re relational, is there maybe one more that comes to your mind? Or two more stick out to you? Characteristics you look for in a great kids team member.

Danielle: I think urgency is important. I think lack of urgency can equal missed opportunity. And by urgency, I mean making those connections with families. I think sometimes in ministry we can think, oh, it’s church, it’s not a big deal, it’s not as serious as other things, but it is. This is something we do to affect kids’ eternities. It’s a big deal and I think every minute matters. Every moment you pour into a child matters. Every moment you pour into a fellow team member matters, and so I think urgency is important in that respect. And just knowing that excellence matters and having the urgency to create that environment of excellence for kids and their families. I think when we don’t do that, a kid comes to church and maybe doesn’t have the best time because things weren’t excellent. Now, by excellence I don’t mean they have to be perfect, because people make mistakes.

Daniel: Yeah, especially with kids.

Danielle: Yeah, exactly. But I think a kid can come to church and he or she may not come back again. And that’s a big deal. And so the way we present church to kids and their families can affect whether they come to church again, how they perceive church to be, and not only impact that child’s eternity, but a parent’s as well, so that’s really important.

Daniel: Yeah, I totally agree. Urgency’s one of those words we use on our staff, too. We only get one chance to make a first impression, right? And particularly if you’re reaching a large percentage of people who didn’t grow up in church and aren’t going to church like we are at all of our locations, the fact of them coming and trying out church is a big deal. And if it’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, they don’t know where to go, a sign’s out of place, a volunteer seems unsafe, the thing that seems so small to us because we do it each and every week could be the very thing that closes off their heart to hearing the message or causes them to be like, ah I don’t feel quite, you know, they might not be able to put their finger on why, but just I don’t feel quite comfortable dropping my kid off so I’m just going to take them into the experience with the adults with  me. It’s those little details like you’re saying and I think that’s what we say about urgency all the time. Today is somebody’s one opportunity to hear about Jesus and we have to urgently be bothered by things that aren’t correct and that aren’t the best they can be and know with confidence that God has entrusted us with sharing the message of His love with these people and create the best environment we possibly can to do that so I think that’s a great one. So I’m going to shift gears a tiny bit here. So I know there’s probably a hundred more characteristics that we could go through of great volunteers but I think a question that I’m wondering, genuinely, and I think our listeners probably are wondering as well, so are any of these things things that somebody can learn? Like if you’re talking to somebody, they sign up to be a volunteer, right off, is it just like they’ve either got it or they don’t? Or do you think you can develop some of these characteristics into somebody?

Danielle: Absolutely. I think some of them you can develop. I think some of them are just there or they’re not. I think if you don’t have a passion, you don’t have a passion and I don’t know if you can lead somebody into that. But I think like with urgency, I think that can be taught. Yeah, I think, and again that’s part of the leaders pouring into their team, and identifying their strengths, where they’re at, and then kind of helping to nurture those things that maybe they need some more support around and can get better at and so I think some things definitely can. Some things just might not be there.

Daniel: Yeah, so I don’t want to go off and start a whole other episode. Maybe we can have you back again and talk about this another time, but what, just in a very basic sense, what does developing a team member look like? I know we do initial training when they first come on, all of those things, but on a week to week, day to day basis, if you said, I have a great kids coordinator at this location, they’re constantly developing their team, what are the things that they’re doing to keep cultivating these characteristics and keep essentially growing their team in its quality? Making their team better.

Danielle: I think the relational part is very important, pouring into them as a person, not just as a team member. I think that’s really important. These are people who have their own experiences and they’re not just a body that we have on our team to fill a spot, they’re human beings with real lives and who go through things just like everybody else. So I think being relational, checking in on the team member on a regular basis, prayer, getting together, just doing life together is most important. And then I think frequent meetings and like I said earlier, identifying strengths and weaknesses and pouring into them, what leadership development could look like. Going through a book together and answering questions together or a podcast or it could be bringing them to the location and showing them how to do a particular part of the role, and giving ownership and delegating to the team, I think, is important. So giving them responsibility, I think, can be really important. And so that can be having them take on a particular task or role.

Daniel: That’s really good. I think one of the things that I was taught early on was to ask this question of my leaders a lot, whether that’s a location pastor, a coordinator, whatever it is, is simply, when was the last time you reached out to, blank, whoever that person is...when is the last time you reached out to Jane and it wasn’t about church? It wasn’t about what you needed them to do, it wasn’t to ask them, hey, could you fill in because somebody called out today? Or hey, do you mind serving an extra time this weekend? Or do you mind coming in on your week, like, when was the last time it wasn't about ministry? When was the last time it was just like, hey, how’s your kids doing? Hey, how’s work today? Hey, I was thinking of you, I was praying for you this morning. When was the last time you reached out to somebody or that person and it wasn’t about what you needed them to do for you to fulfill your role? And that question has always stuck with me, and now I ask people all the time when I’m visiting locations, when I’m talking with leaders on my team, I ask them all the time. And it has to be genuine. It’s easy to just be like, hey, praying for you. Like, sure. We could text that to 80 people in a row, and that’s not bad if you mean it, but being fake isn’t the solution, but genuinely caring about people as people like you were saying. I think that’s a very important part of development. So I think that’s a good spot to wrap it up, unless you got anything else you want to add? She’s shaking her head “no” at me. So, Danielle, thank you so much for joining us on this week’s episode. We’ll make sure your contact info is on the show notes. I’m sure people have tons of questions about all sorts of kids related things we do. Listeners, again, thank you so much for tuning in, and if there’s any way we can serve you, particularly if you have questions about kids ministry, please feel free to reach out to Danielle. She’s absolutely killing it, has created some awesome structures and systems and really taking our teams to a higher place and just doing a wonderful job. So Danielle, thanks again for being here.

Danielle: Thank you.

Daniel: Listeners, thank you again for tuning in and don’t forget to take a second and leave a rating or review or share this with somebody who’s a kid ministry person or who you think might benefit from this episode. See you again next time on the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast.

Ep 168: Creative Systems and Why They Matter

Welcome to the 168th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to this podcast and it has helped you and your team in any way, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher or take the time to share it on social media.

Do you have a question for Pastor Josh about leadership, ministry, or any other topic we’ve covered on the podcast so far? Submit your questions to info@joshuagagnon.com or @joshgagnon on Twitter and Pastor Josh might answer it on a future episode!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Monday

Wufoo

Graphic Request Form

Video Request Form

Slack

Screenshot of Monday program:

Screenshot.PNG

You can read the full transcription below:

Daniel King: Welcome to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. My name is Daniel King and I get the privilege of hosting this week’s episode and today I’m sitting down with a special guest, Mr. Alex Goff. Is your name Alexander?

Alex Goff: Just Alex.

D: Just Alex?

A: Yep.

D: Alright. Just Alex. I was about to say Alexander but I would have been making it up. Mr. Alex Goff, he is our Creative Director here at Next Level Church. He oversees all of our creative teams, including production, video, graphics, series, the weekend experience, worship, and the list could probably go on. Also a great guy, potentially the world’s largest Clemson fan that has ever existed.

A: Go Tigers.

D: Drinking a very large Monster right now because he got in on a late flight last night, so Alex thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

A: It is my honor to be here.

D: Cool. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about, I want to use the word “creative process”, but that makes it sound too general, but what it looks like for your team and our team here at Next Level to take an idea and turn it into reality and I think the best place to start maybe a little bit is, because, as our listeners know, we have multiple locations and that means ideas and requests and things are coming from all different directions, so talk just a little about the model of the way that you view our creative team and its relationship to the organization as a whole.

Yeah, sure, so we look at this as an agency model, meaning that we’re here to serve the church with anything creative, whether it be coming up with an idea or executing an idea and so through a system of request forms and things like that, we exist to bring someone’s vision to life and so whatever that might be, we have a model in place and system in place that allows us to be able to do that, to do that well. We, in essence, are a separate ministry that serves every department within the church itself.

D: Okay, yeah, so if I’m listening right now, I’m thinking, ‘How on earth do you keep track of all that? How do you prioritize between the different requests coming in?’ Can you talk a little about that?

A: Yeah, definitely. So we use a series of Wufoo forms for requesting that are laid out with our processes of, what is our turnaround time, when can you expect to have a draft in hand, when can you expect a completed process. Of course all of this based on them providing us with the information that we need and us not having to chase that down. We try to be as detailed as we can with our forms and asking what’s the vision behind this, what’s the overall feel, what keypoints do you want to have in this. And then we also make ourselves available to do a quick creative meeting with somebody to be able to brainstorm ideas, you know we have several department leaders that probably would not consider themselves very creative and so they have an overall vision of what they want to communicate and so we help them sit down and come up with a creative, sometimes funny, sometimes we’re serious, but a creative way of bringing that to life. And as far as our project management goes we use an app called Monday, a program called Monday and Monday is just a basic project management, just like Basecamp or Asana, but we really like Monday a lot. It’s been great for us because it’s extremely integrative and so with our Wufoo forms and even with our Slack channels that we use for communication within the church, Monday integrates really really well with those programs, and so when we get our Wufoo forms submitted, it automatically creates a new project within Monday and then we’re able to go in and assign not only just due dates and keep a great timeline in place, but it’s really customizable in allowing us to create different buttons that can tell me as a creative director where everything is in the process so whether it be still in development or in storyboarding or in editing, I know exactly where that project is and it’s able to keep track of where they are and making sure they’re staying on target for deadlines and things like that.

D: Cool, that’s awesome. Can you like screenshot that or something and we can put it in the show notes for people or something like that? Cause I have no idea what you’re talking about, although it’s making sense as you’re explaining it but now I want to see it cause I love systems and that sounds really cool. We could probably put a link to some of the Wufoo forms in there so people could see examples but I think that’s one of the things that I appreciate that I think you’ve really brought to the table in the last year or two that you’ve been here at Next Level, is just the structure and the detail and the system that goes along with it because the reality is if we were a creative agency, we’d be a real big one. Like, you’re getting a lot of requests and all over the map, like you said, from people who are very creative to people who are very not creative, from people who are very detail oriented to people who are not detail oriented, right? And having to navigate all those waters and at the same time understanding, okay, we can’t invest too much time in a project that’s only going to impact one location, or that’s only going to be seen by a certain percentage of our church and we need to invest the heaviest amount of our time and energy and resources into the things that are going to affect the most people, right? Just try to prioritize.

A: Absolutely, yeah we talk about this a lot. We like to use the phrase, “influence versus output,” and I think I’ve talked about this in the past on another podcast before, but in essence, just taking a look at what’s the output going to be for this project, how much effort, how much resources is it going to take? And what’s our influence for this? A quick, brief, story, we spend a lot of time, a lot of resources on this massive project a year ago and it ended up being a portion of our experience that not a lot of people are in the room for, and at the end of the day we looked at it and we said…

D: What you’re trying to say is everyone comes to church late, that’s what you’re getting at.

A: I was trying to be nice about it, but yet, everyone comes to church late and so this was a big countdown element that we did and we put so much time, so much money and energy into the project itself and going back on that we learned very quickly that that was a bad use of our time and our resources just because it wasn’t a large influence .and so we do the same thing, we look at creative projects with individuals, you know different departments and we look at what is it they’re trying to say? How important is this event? Is this something that’s centrally for all of our locations or is this for something that’s just for one location? And everything goes into a factor. Something that we always try to do and someone taught me this a long time ago, as we try to say everything stay on mission, and mission, there’s an acronym for that, it says, make ideas stay synced inside one narrative, and so when we sit down and we look at the mission, we want to make sure that everything is on mission, but we also use that to be able to do some omission as well. You know what I’m saying, this is not as important as this project and we really need to put our resources into this and so let’s maybe pick a different time or a later date that we can work on this. That’s the hard part though. The hard part is looking at someone and saying, “Hey, your project is not as important as this project over here is.”

D: Yeah, cause of course it’s important to them, right?

A: Yes, of course. Everybody’s project is the most important.

D: Yeah. I think a great example, one of the things you guys came up with which I think is brilliant is, one of the challenges we face to being multisite is, let’s say we just had Team Night recently, and the reality is Team Night, which is essentially a volunteer appreciation event for our listeners, one of the realities for that event is that every location is going to have different information. They need to communicate this is happening at a bowling alley, at somebody’s house, at our building, at this time at this date, right? Everybody’s information is going to be different. But it’s unsustainable to think that every time we do an event, you’re going to create a different graphic with different information and collect that information from every location and be able to communicate it right? And so one of the ideas that you guys had that I think is just wonderful and just so smart when it comes to efficiency is our graphics team will create a Photoshop file or an Illustrator file as a template that says, this is the design, but instead of writing Friday at 10:00, it says, “date goes here”, and then we have a Creative Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud subscription that all of our location pastors have login to, and they can just grab that file, open up the file and change the date to their correct information and then export the file and put it in their own ProPresenter, and so everyone is able to adjust, yet the excellence level stays the same because the template’s already built. And we do that over and over, with men’s events, with women’s events, I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, I believe there’s even generic templates where it’s like, your announcement title goes here and they’re even able to do something that’s specific to their location, right?

A: Yeah, so bragging on my Graphics Director for a minute, Liz has done a great job of putting this amazing thing in place for this and, my phone’s going off for some reason that’s weird, right? Apparently I answered a call.

D: You said, “Hey Siri” in the middle of the thing, and now I just turned on my Siri.

A: So she, with these templates, we were finding that every, cause every event wants a graphic, right? And so we just live in this world where if you’re doing an event, you want a graphic for it. And while it’s really fun to be super creative and brand everything specifically, it’s not scalable, by any means. And so what we did was we created a color-code guide where every ministry area, so whether it be kids or students or groups or every specific area has its own colors, so red, green, yellow, and so to make things really simple, we went to a vector-based template series, so basically we created a template that has the color background, so if it’s an image, we just put a gradient map over it that gives it specific color hues so you know what department or ministry that’s for, and then we use a vector right on the very top and then there’s a title and then there’s date, information, and by doing that, we’ve allowed for our location pastors or anybody really can just log in and type in their information and it makes it so that it doesn’t overcrowd the document, they have to keep their communication brief and to the point, and of course we proof these and make sure that they’re okay, but it just makes it easier where we’re not having to create a big graphic for every event, it looks nice, we’ve created very nice templates for it, but it’s more focused and easier to scale because of the fact that this is all pretty much the same, vector art, color code, title, date, things like that.

D: Yeah, that was one of the best ideas, I loved that when I first saw that or heard about it, I think it’s really clever. So let’s just shift gears a tiny bit here. So we talked a lot about the general system, the general process, these one-off requests, but maybe we can talk a little bit about your guys’ process when it comes to something bigger. So say we’re getting ready to start a new group semester, or we’re planning a big push towards getting more volunteers, or something like that. You get a bigger project that’s not just going to be a quick graphic or maybe a one talking head video, but you’re going to need three or four weeks of communication all surrounding the same topic with handouts and slides and videos and all of these things. What’s the process your team undertakes in that type of situation, where it is more of a comprehensive initiative?

A: Yeah, definitely first and foremost, we try to involve immediately whoever oversees that department. So if it’s a groups push, we’re going to find our groups director and we’re going to bring him in and we’re going to have a sit down meeting where we allow him to just communicate vision to us. What are we pushing? What do you want to put in front of people as far as the vision that we cast for this, you know, what are the dates? What’s the feel of this? Is there a curriculum with this? Do you have any thoughts around how you would like to promote this? Do you want this to be funny and more light-hearted? Do you want to take a serious kind of life-change approach? A lot of different directions we can go with this. And so we try to first involved the director of that area of ministry so that they can cast the vision to us and we can bring that to life. And then we also try to involve our communications department in this as well, because communications allows us to be able to stay focused on what are the different areas of communication? So social media, web, handouts, banners, flags, all of those things, depending on how big the event is, and she helps us to stay focused on what are all the details that we need to think through with this. And so the first step is to create a brand, and so we sit down, we come up with an idea, we figure out what curriculum we’re going to be doing, we try to design a graphic around that and then we start from that point. So everything stays within that, so colors that we use and all of that stuff stays within the brand of that event, so that everything looks uniform. There’s nothing worse than having an event where graphics and videos are all over the place and nothing’s uniform, you don’t really know what you’re looking at, so we try to start with artistically, what is this going to look like first? And then we hand it over to our communications department to help us write great scripts and things like that for communication. And then we basically say, here is a deadline of when the projects are due, this is what it looks like through a process, so two weeks out we’re going to put this out, a week out we’re going to put this out, and that covers everything from our internal promotion, social media, things that we have inside of our experiences and so we put a plan in place for what that calendar of promotion will look like leading up to the event, and then from that point we just start putting things together. At the same time involving the ministry department leader as much as possible. Everything that we do, we put their eyes on because we want to make sure and ask since it does capture the vision, we’re not running rogue, we’re not trying to just take an idea and make it what we think is great, we want to make sure that it, in fact, captures the vision that they wanted to do, so every step of the way, they’re involved in that process.

D: Yeah, I think there’s a couple common struggles when it comes to creative people. One is that tendency to be ready, fire, aim, and to really be like, “I’ve got this great idea!” and just go run with it without stopping to think, okay, what’s the end goal that we need to get to here? And like you said, what platforms does this need to be communicated on? And those kind of things. I think that’s a common struggle that you spoke to there and another one is just that desire for art over effectiveness, right? And a lot of people who are creative, cause they love the art, they love the beauty or the cleverness or the poetry or the whatever, that goes into it, right? And so all those things are great, it’s what makes them great at their job, but at the same time, the most beautifully shot video in the entire world that doesn’t communicate the point it was originally intended to communicate is not effective. And so I think that’s a really important principle there you spoke to of just involving the person in charge of it, involving the communications team, because we’ve talked a lot of times about, oh, let’s end that video a little differently so that we can also use it on Facebook as well as the weekend and just tweaking that. Okay, does this need a link at the end, because this might also get used on social media. Or this might go out in an email blast, we need to have a different version with a different ending for that context than we do on a weekend, right? And just those little details I think are so important, but when you know that up front, you can shape the video around that. Or the graphic or the handout.

A: Yeah, there’s nothing worse than missing information when you’re the week of and you forgot that you were supposed to promote this on a different platform and this ending doesn’t work and all of a sudden you’re scrambling to try to create a different ending. Knowing that ahead of time allows us to go ahead and just we create as many different versions as we need to so that it fits whatever platform it is that we’re using for communications.

D: Yeah, so as someone listening to this podcast, I’m thinking right now, “Wow! It must be awesome to have this team of 40 people who are doing all of this and for your pastor to be getting you information 17 months in advance!” That’s what it sounds like when you described this as a structure. So can you talk a little bit, that’s not our reality. So can you talk a little bit about maybe what’s the typical timeline, how many people are on your team pulling this off, those kind of things.

A: Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s nothing more daunting than looking at the size of your church and the size of your team and thinking, man, we don’t have enough people. And I think that that’s a tension that you’re always going to have to manage, no matter what. And I think that if you get into this mentality of, it’s not about getting more people, it’s about getting healthier systems that allow you to be more efficient, you know. So scalability, all of those things you have to have systems that allow us to do that so here we are a church of 9, 10 locations and we’ve got a lot of different ministry area that we’re serving. I would say we average anywhere from three to four graphic requests a day, at least a video request or two a week. They’re coming in and of course that’s not even considering weekend experiences and everything else, so we’re making this happen with a team of 6 people, so myself, we have a Graphic Designer, she oversees the whole graphics department, she’s a one-man wrecking crew, she is just amazing at what she does. We have one Video Director, who’s running the entire video department and creating these incredible videos, high standard of excellence every single week. We have one Production Director who is very involved in our creative process, cause everything we do, even videos have to go through his lap because he’s doing the audio adjustments for it. We have a Worship Director and we have a Creative Assistant who kind of has her hands in a lot of different pots, mainly production, but does an amazing job and we’re making it work. I look at churches that are even smaller than us and they have far more people than we do, and I think it’s because we’ve put so much focus on our systems and not on how many people we have and also training two of allowing us to be able to involve other people in the process and bring in volunteers and bring in people that are passionate about it. Yeah, I mean that’s a huge thing. A lot of churches don’t understand what they right underneath their nose, they haven’t even thought about yet, and that’s desire. That’s somebody that has a passion for something and you can take somebody that has a passion for it and put them beside someone that knows what they’re doing, they’re going to eat that alive, they’re going to grow, they’re going to go fast, and I think that if you can put systems in place to allow you to be able to use volunteers and people that you can bring in to teach and just start them with something easy. Start them with a simple project. For us, even with the graphics department, with us using these simple templates, where people are just having to go in and maybe change out an icon or put in a new text, that’s a great way to get somebody into Photoshop and teach them how to manipulate layers and how to do things like that. So we rely heavily on that. We’ve got an amazing couple that are very gifted and talented with writing and they’re professional actors and they’re just brilliant creative minds and while they’re not necessarily on staff, they are a huge part of our creative team and you wouldn’t believe how much of our content comes from their brains, and they just love to serve, and it’s because they believe in the vision of the church and we’ve put systems in place that allow us to be able to do that. So, sure, we could use more people and I think everybody could say that, but we make due with what we have and we create systems that allow us to work within our reality.

D: Yeah, I think you totally nailed that there, Alex. I was going to bring up the thing of using outside people as well, and I think that the reality is the only way that’s possible is through the organization, the systems and the structures that you’ve put in place and that your teams come up with so that there’s an efficiency there and then I think the other thing too that I would just speak to a little bit is as an organization as a whole, we all have to be on board with the vision, which allows us to then be willing to prioritize, right? And so that lets you be able to say, “Hey guys, we need to pick between this and this cause we don’t have time to do both great.” And organizationally, we have teams and directors of other departments who understand, okay, we’re going to find another solution to this problem because as an organization, as where we’re heading as the whole church, this thing is more important in this season and we’re going to put more of our energy there. And because we have such amazing leaders who are on board with the vision and on board with going in the same direction with us, we’re able to have those conversations and it’s nothing personal and it’s nothing against your ministry, we just have zero sense of competition with those type of things and, at least I’ve never been in any conversations where people are like, aw that’s not fair, my thing’s important, you know and I hear so many stories of churches where that stuff happens like, why couldn’t my thing get announced? And we’ve always been like, hey, we’re going to shift things around and we’re going to do the best we can, but we’re going to fit that in in a couple week.s And everyone’s on board but I think that speaks to the culture of what we’ve created here but it also speaks to the organization and the efficiency that you guys have built in where everybody knows creative team’s crushing it. And we’re not asking people to work 100 hours a week on your team, like we’re not crushing it because of that. We have people who are talented and then we’re very organized around them, we’re willing to prioritize and choose what’s most important for the vision and kind of back where we started is going to have the most impact and effectiveness on the most people.

A: Yeah, I think there’s two parts to that. I think that A, your organization has to believe in the mission and respect the processes that are in place, but I think it’s also equally important for the creative team to put those systems in place and communicate them effectively. Because I don’t think there’s any doubt that everybody on staff knows how do I get a graphic in my hand, if I need a graphic, how do I get that done. You have to be able to communicate that vision and what those processes are and you have to hold them accountable to it. And one thing I think that’s super important too, is a protection for your creative team. As a creative director, I always tell everyone, please don’t go directly to one of our creative staff, involve me in the conversation so that I, as a creative director, can help kind of be that firewall and say, hey I don’t think we’re going to be able to do this within this timeframe, it doesn’t put our creative team in an awkward position. Because there’s nothing worse than having someone try to get work done and they’re having 6, 7 people coming in from all areas wanting this and that and this and that, and if you allow that to happen, it will always fester, it will always be the reality, because everyone thinks that their project is most important.

D: Yeah, and if they go outside the system once and it works, they’re going to go outside the system again next time.

A: Yeah, so having someone in place that can protect that and communicate effectively what those systems are, protect those systems, protect the staff as well and make sure everyone understands the vision so that they can all get on board with it.

D: Cool, this is great stuff, Alex. I think for the sake of time, I think that’s a good spot to pull the plug, but where can people reach out to you? I’m sure there’s going to be creative people who hear this and they have questions and they want to see things. We’ll put as much in the show notes, but where can people get in touch with you?

A: Sure. You can email me directly, alex.goff@nextlevel.church. Would love to talk to you, this is a huge passion for me is just talking with churches and getting to know people and communicating what we do and living with open hands, because I was in that position one time where I didn’t have answers and so glad that I was able to reach out to people with answers and get resourced and just know that, man, we’re here to complete not compete. And so, dropping a little culture there.

D: That’s good. Cool, thanks again, Alex. Appreciate you listening. Listeners, thank you again for being with us, as always appreciate you taking the time to leave a rating or review, especially on an episode like this where we know a lot of our listeners, or lead pastors, or executive pastors, if you’ve got people on your creative team who would benefit from this episode, feel free to pass this along to them or share it on social media for others to find out. Appreciate you guys doing that, love the growth we’re seeing on the podcast as a result of so many of you doing that. As always, reach out to Alex, reach out to me, anything we can do to serve you, we are here to do so, and we’ll see you again next week on another new episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. Thanks for listening.  

Ep 167: The Two Constant Companions of Leadership

Welcome to the 167th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to this podcast and it has helped you and your team in any way, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher or take the time to share it on social media.

Do you have a question for Pastor Josh about leadership, ministry, or any other topic we’ve covered on the podcast so far? Submit your questions to info@joshuagagnon.com or @joshgagnon on Twitter and Pastor Josh might answer it on a future episode!

You can read the full transcription of this episode below.

Walt Robbins: What’s going on everybody welcome to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. I have Roman Archer here, who’s having an incredible morning, and Pastor Josh.

Joshua Gagnon: This is Walter Robbins. Well, this isn’t...That was Walt Robbins. If you’ve ever emailed me, you’ve emailed the great Walt Robbins, named after Walt Disney!

W: And my grandfather, but…

Roman Archer: Mainly grandfather and father.

J: Yeah, mainly. He is the third, but somewhere, there was a Walt Disney tie-in. Is he your favorite?

W: Favorite. All-time favorite. In fact I’ve read like, three biographies.

J: There you go. After the name. Well, this is a podcast.

R: This is a podcast.

J: And so we should greet our guests. Why don’t you go ahead and do that, Roman? Which, by the way, to God be the glory, and all of the mysteries under heaven and earth...on the earth…in the earth...another podcast all-time record last week.

R: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

J: Do you feel excited?

R: I am so excited.

J: You okay?

R: I’m welcoming all of our guests. Wanna welcome them to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast, where we talk to one another about leadership.

J: Kinda strange, right?

R: Yep. Yep. It would be much easier if we were just mic'd up during the week. Kinda like what they do on ESPN, they just mic up the coaches and then they just kind of... I think that would be a very successful podcast.

J: I agree. We also may get a lot of scrutiny. (laughs)

R: Yeah, that too. That too. Well today we’re going to be talking about companions for leadership.

J: Companions. Companionship.

R: Companionship.

J: Yeah, really we were talking about that and how we kind of bring it to life. Roman, you and I were talking about this before the podcast began to record, and we were talking about how my kids got...what did they get?

R: It’s so funny because listeners can’t see you right now but with your hands, you’re trying to describe how big they are, so you’re making a little thing.

J: Hamsters!

R: Hamsters, yes.

J: They got little hamsters. They’ve been begging me and begging me for hamsters. I have an 11 year old and a 10 year old, two boys, and they’ve been begging me for...probably 2 years now. I would say asking for 2 years, they started begging for about 2 months. They want hamsters. They want hamsters. And so they said, “Dad, what if we write a persuasive speech and we convince you?”

R: So it turned into a leadership exposition?

J: Yeah, turned it into an opportunity for growth, and so I had to call the family meeting and they came down with their speeches and they needed to have a business plan, everything in place of how they were going to feed it, who was going to watch them if we left, the cost, they had to give me facts about hamsters, how long they live, how big they get, on and on and on and on, right? So, they came down, we were in our kitchen and they [gave] their speeches, and they actually did really good. I’m not just that proud dad, I’m not just a dad. They did really good. I was actually surprised, I think mom helped them. So I think Jennifer kind of stood aside of them and helped them. But at the end, I was like, alright, let me think it over. You know, I had already known I was going to do it, but I was like let me think it over, I’ll get back to you. I have some questions, so I asked some questions, and I said, I’ll get back to you within the next week, and I kind of made it like professional like I was the judge, and so they were like, okay, okay, they were smiling. So every morning they get up and they kind of look at me, and I told them, don’t be asking, I’ll tell you when the decision has been made. And they look at me with a smile on their face, you know, like Dad, is he going to say anything? So anyway, finally, I said, “Alright the decision has been made and, unfortunately…” And the look in their faces dropped… “Unfortunately, dad’s going to have to get hamsters.” And they’re like ohhh! So they’re so excited, but one of my arguments was hamsters are horrendous companions. Like, who puts a hamster on a leash? If I’m walking down the street with a hamster on a leash, people are probably thinking I need to get medication. They’re like, this dude needs to honestly go back to school. You don’t put a hamster on a leash.

R: No, it bit me the other day when they were showing it to me.

W: You were so mad.

R: Yeah, I mean it hurt. They have little baby sharp razor teeth.

J: See, it’s not a good companion. You put them in a little plastic ball, right? That you can see through. And they just run around on the floor in the ball. You can’t even like… They don’t come when you call. They don’t listen. They just poop all over the, wherever they want. They’re just not good companions. They don’t even care about you. They don’t care about how you’re feeling, they don’t care if you had a good day or a bad day. You know, a dog would be a good companion. Talk about Bernie.

R: Oh, I got a dog named Bernard, Bernie for short.

J: Are you a Bernie Sanders guy?

R: No, I don’t know where we got the name from, to be honest with you, it just kind of fit him.

J: I thought it would be funny to ask on the podcast. Just to get everyone’s ears go, ooh!

R: Yeah, let’s go politics for a little.

J: That would be wise, right?

R: I mean, would it mean you’re a fan, or not a fan if you name your dog after a politician?

J: That’s a good point. We’ll leave that to the listeners.

R: Yeah, they can decide. But yeah, I think dogs are a way better companion.

J: Yeah, so we’re talking about how there are some companions in leadership that we don’t want, and there’s companions in leadership that we do want. Often we focus on the companions in leadership we’d rather not have around. There are some good companions and some bad companions when it comes to leadership. The first thing we started talking about was how pain is a bad companion of leadership. I can remember early on, one of my mentors, friends, that will remain unnamed just because you try not name drop, told me that pain will be a constant companion in leadership.

R: And it is.

J: It is. Talk about that a little bit.

R: It’s the one thing that I think is always there. We were even just talking this week about a leadership dilemma that we were in and we just kind of said, man it’s always something, isn’t it? You get through one, and I think the danger in that is, as a leader, there’s all of these, I’ve heard it said before, almost all these fault summits, which you get to a certain point, you think, it’s going to feel different, look different, be different, but there’s always tension, there’s always growing, there’s pain, there’s always stretching.

J: Yeah, it’s a lot like running, right? You know the first time you go running, maybe you run a mile, and you’re thinking to yourself, my gosh, is that painful. But six months in or two months in or whatever, when you run a mile, it’s not necessarily as painful, but the truth is you’ve conditioned yourself to where a mile no longer is satisfying. So you run two miles or three miles.

R: And you’re running it faster now.

J: And you’re running it faster, exactly, you’re running at a different pace. And so that’s the interesting thing in leadership. Now, I go running most mornings and I run a lot further than I used to and it’s as painful as it’s ever been, and that’s the same thing with leadership, right? It’s like where you’re leading now ten years into this journey. It doesn’t necessarily feel any different because the pain is as constant and the feeling of being unqualified is as constant, the frustrations are continuous, the reality is you’re leading at a higher level, you’re running further but the pain hasn’t subsided. It’s just as painful as it’s always been. Which, it’s not just a ministry thing, too. I sometimes get a little bit frustrated where I go to conferences, I’ll speak at conferences, wherever the Lord opens up for opportunities, and sometimes I feel like during Christian conferences and even in podcasts, I’m not even saying this is true, this could just be what I’ve perceived. I’m not saying this is a real reality, I’m saying this is what I sometimes feel. I sometimes feel like it’s only church conferences and Christian ministry leaders feel like ministry’s the hardest thing. Almost like there’s this bubble of whining within ministry and leadership because of the pain, but that’s true outside of just ministry. Like, even being a dad, even being a husband, leadership as a husband, leadership as a dad or as a mom or as a wife, right? No matter where you are in the marketplace, wherever there is leadership, a companion is pain, it’s not just in ministry.

R: It’s growing. And I think a big thing with that is just expectations.

J: Cause a lot of people think I need to leave ministry to get out of the pain, but if you leave ministry and go lead in another path, lead in another…

R: Context.

J: Yeah, you’re still going to be in pain if you’re leading. I’ve often told you when we’ve had these conversations there is a way to get out of the pain, is to choose to no longer lead, which means that you just go and you take a job where maybe you just have a task everyday and there’s really no one you lead, no one that’s accountable under you, and probably limited pain there.

R: So if pain is a companion in leadership, we need to have that expectation where to some degree it’s always going to be there. How do we turn that into something else?

J: I think the companion we want instead of pain is purpose. Right? The companion we want is to walk with purpose. Purpose reminding us of why it is we’re doing what it is we’re doing. Purpose reminding us of the conditioning that the decisions that the long days, that the hard moments are growing within us. So for instance, we’ll just go back to running just because we started that little train, we might as well stay out on it. When I’m running or when you’re running or when anybody’s running, and if you don’t run, you have probably ran before. One of the ways to get to the five miles or ten miles or 1 mile, one of the ways to get through it is to think of the purpose, right? So I can focus on the pain of the run or I can focus on the purpose of the run.

R: What’s the purpose for you of running?

J: Well, it used to be getting in good shape so that I looked really good for my wife on the beach. That never happened. And so now that I recognize that will never happen and the older I get, sincerely, the purpose for me is often I’ll think about my kids and I’ll think about having a good heart and I’ll think about just being physically in shape, I’ll think about my body, not how I look but how I feel after the run. Sometimes after I run I think mentally I’m much more focused and clear, energetic for the day. Also I think about the discipline of running and often I’ll think about pushing through while I’m running so the purpose, it’s funny, sometimes the purpose of getting through the run is literally to prove to myself that I’m not a quitter. And so I think there’s a bunch of different purposes in there because if the purpose was simply just a six pack on the beach, once I realize that’s not going to happen, I would stop, I wouldn’t run, I’d get tired and I’d quit. So I think if when you’re running, if it’s just going to be a record attendance this weekend and it doesn’t happen, you’re going to quit if you don’t go back to the purpose of why it is you’re doing it. If it’s just going to be these arbitrary mountain peaks throughout your ministry, throughout your career, you’re going to quit well before you should because you’re going to stop short if the purpose is unfulfilling.

R: Yeah. So examine the purpose if the pain is becoming too much.

J: Yeah, purpose keeps us pointed in the correct direction. Helps us gain endurance when the pain feels overwhelming, right? So if you’re in ministry, which many of our leaders are, if you’re not in ministry, if right now you’re feeling pain because maybe the ministry isn’t growing, you go back to the purpose. Why did God call me to lead here? When did God call me to lead here? What did I first feel when I entered this opportunity? And maybe in those moments you’ll once again find the endurance to keep running because you haven’t allowed your entire reality to be based off what’s causing pain, but you’ve dug deeper to find the purpose so that in spite of the pain you can continue to move forward.

R: That’s good. So pain for purpose, we have the companionship of pain we need to look at it through the lens of purpose. Another companion that we have would be loneliness, another companionship of leadership.

J: Leadership can be lonely. You ever deal with that?

R: Absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s one of those things where it’s often even a perceived loneliness I think sometimes, just because of the pain, the burden of it, you just think that nobody else cares. I think of often those times where you’re dealing with something you feel alone in it. There’s the sense of isolation and loneliness because the responsibility rests a lot of times solely on you, and that can be very lonely and an isolating place to be at, and it’s easy to continue to withdraw as a leader.

J: Yeah, I often feel lonely in crowds and lonely in leadership because I’m not quite sure anybody understands where I’m at or anyone’s ever been here before. It’s totally untrue, but sometimes those feelings can create loneliness and then as a leader, isn’t it sometimes hard to not feel lonely because who do you go to? Like, who do you go to, you can go to some of your friends, you can come to me, but that’s having to face the reality that you don’t have the answers on your own, and you’re too cocky to want to do that, and I’m too cocky to want to do that, and so our arrogance often puts us in a position of loneliness, you know? And you don’t want to go to your team and look like a complete goob, right? So there’s these feelings we have to have tension, we have to have it figured out, and loneliness can be really a constant companion of leadership. I don’t really have a cool thing to replace loneliness with other than just love.

R: Yeah.

J: But just being in relationships and the ultimate goal of that would be longevity. So loneliness, you know, if we can overtake loneliness with relationships, we’ll find ourselves in a position where longevity can be part of our legacy. Because a lonely leader is going to be taken out. Isolation leads to strangelation, which leads to isolation, ultimately elimination. And so I think for the leaders that are listening, every leader I’ve ever known that’s disqualified themselves, every leader I have ever known that has quit had a very weak support system around them. Or they weren’t willing to take advantage of the support system that was willingly around them. And so I think for many leaders this life of loneliness is ultimately going to lead to elimination. As Christian leaders, there’s a power far greater on our side and it’s the common bond and relationship of others, iron sharpening iron.

R: Yep. I can’t stress enough how often I think it really is a perceived loneliness within leadership. Yes, leadership can be lonely, but often times, at least in my own life it really is perceived. There’s plenty of opportunities for me to connect with other people, for me to reach out, to be encouraged, to be challenged. There’s that saying that those that run alone run fast but those that run together run far. And it really is a decision that we make in leadership. Do we want to do it alone?

J: Is this where we should talk about the Belgian horse?

R: The Belgian horse is a great illustration.

J: Then why don’t you tell me that?

R: I think I’d mess it up. I’ll take a stab at it and you can correct me when I’m wrong. Cause you just told this story at a conference you just spoke at.

J: Because you told me I should do it.

R: Because I found it somewhere.

J: You went on your fancy little iPhone and came out with this Belgian horse story. By the way, why are you looking into horses?

R: I think I was looking at accountability. It had something to do with accountability. Belgian horses, they can pull up to 8,000 pounds alone.

J: How do you get the name “Belgian horse”? Do they grow up on waffles?

R: They’re from Belgium, I think. (laughs) They can pull 8,000 pounds alone, and knowledge would then say, wisdom would say, well together, if you put two of them together they can probably to 16, but they can actually do twenty thousand some pounds.

J: No!

R: What is it? Is it, no?

J: You’re right, but you’re quitting because you’re getting nervous about your math.

R: What is it? It’s 23,000?

J: No, eight times three…?

R: Eight times three? See now you’re going to make me look stupid. (laughs) 24,000.

J: Okay. Exactly.

R: So three times the amount.

J: So one Belgian horse can do what?

R: 8,000.

J: Two can do what?

R: 24,000.

J: Yes.

R: Yes. Reason would tell you they could probably do 16, but they can actually do 23. 24. Which doesn’t really make sense. But if they know each other, if they have a working relationship, they can pull up to 32, I believe.

J: Yeah, baby!

R: I remembered it.

J: 32. So think about that. 32,000 pounds they can pull when they’re in a relationship working together. 8,000 alone. And I think far too many leaders are going to live their life struggling to pull 8,000 pounds alone when they could just find somebody to do life with, grow in a true intimate relationship with them so that they can pull 32,000 pounds together. Most leaders that pull 8,000 pounds their entire life alone will ultimately drop the reigns and choose no longer to pull. And so that’s just this thinking of in leadership we’ve got pain that’s constant, isolation that’s constant, we’ve got to focus on purpose and we’ve got to focus on longevity. And that’s this week’s podcast.

R: Yep, absolutely. Thank you for listening in.