Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Irrelevance

The next sign of a miserable job I want to takle is irrelevance.

Lencioni describes Irrelevance this way: Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone, anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not  find lasting fulfillment. Even in the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone.

This principle combined with immesurement has really made me rethink why, and how we do job descriptions in Uptown specifically and in Kidmin generally. If you talk to most kidmin’s including myself our job descriptions are largely task driven. This is the wrong approach with staff especially if those staff are volunteer staff. Paid staff have a paycheck to help motivate them. Volunteer staff need to clearly see who benefits from what I do. Tasks don’t communicate that.

Most people who volunteer in Kidmin think the kids are the ones who benefit from their work. When in reality often times it isn’t the kids who directly benefit from the work of many of our volunteers, yet if we haven’t communicated that clearly they are leaving every weekend feeling like they have failed. When you break down who benefits from the work your volunteers do it helps them see purpose.

This is one of the main reasons volunteers quit. The very reason people volunteer is to feel a sense of significance. We sell them on making the difference in the life of a child and give them irrelevance because of our ambiguity.

In uptown everyone’s job is make sure every kid that came this week wants to come back next week. Because we believe that life-change happens most often over time in the context of relationship.  Everyone contributes to that goal.

Small group leader – Kids benefit from their work
Logistics director – Teachers and Parents benefit from their work – not kids directly
Guest Services – Parents benefit – the faster we check kids in the happier parents are and the happier kids are.
Preschool Director, small group director – Both of them the person who benefits is me. 🙂

Knowing who benefits from our work makes it personal. One of the most basic tactics of war is to dehumanize the opposition if we don’t see a face when we are doing our work it’s very hard to face our work. Keeping a good volunteer always beats finding new ones.

TakeTen: Being Bi-Vocational with Jared Massey

I had a short lived idea to do a video podcast that I called TakeTen. It would TakeTen minutes to make and TakeTen minutes to listen to it. My idea was to interview different people in kidmin for ten minutes and release it as a podcast unedited and uncensored. The video aspect didn’t work so well so I thought I would turn the idea into a podcast.

In this episode I had a great conversation with Jared Massey who is the associate pastor at Warsaw Assembly of God.  Jared went to school and received a degree in Children’s and Family ministry from North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. In addition to working as the children’s pastor at his church he also oversees music, and youth. Jared has recently started blogging and does a great job talking about what ministry looks like in a small church, he also is bi-vocational meaning he works a secular job fulltime and works ministry full time. Bi-vocational ministry is no easy task I grew up in a how where my dad was a pastor but also worked fulltime in a secular job. Jared shares some great insights in this episode of TakeTen that will help you be more effective of a leader no matter what size church you are in.

To keep up with Jared check out

His Blog – Small Town Kidmin
He also is one of the writers for – – A Collaborative blog started by Wayne Stocks for bi-vocational kidmin’s.
His Twitter – @Pastorjaredm
His Facebook –  PastorJaredM

Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Immeasurement

One of my biggest pet peeves in kids ministry is how we attack our very real need for volunteers. Every conference you go to there will be some form of breakout teaching you how to recruit more volunteers. At these break outs you will often hear tips tricks and how to’s to get more volunteers into your ministry to help with the kids. These usually vary from dinners, to cold calls, to fun events which your new recruits soon learn were just a bait and switch tactic. Are these bad ideas? No. Are they what I believe works for the long haul? Absolutely not. We live in a very short sighted culture, we value results and what have you done for me lately. Tricking people into helping takes a whole different set of skills than finding team members and building a team.

I believe nearly every volunteer issue falls into one of two categories. Culture and vision. If we worry more about creating a team centered culture that shares common values and vision, recruiting and keeping volunteers will not be a problem. One of those things that helps build that culture that makes volunteering irresistible is the ability to know how we are doing.

One of the biggest opportunities we miss as leaders is we that fail to put measurable goals our team members can use to see how they are doing. I can say this because I don’t feel I do this in a simple way, yet. Immeasurement as Lencioni calls it, is really all about not knowing “how” you are doing. In my experience healthy people want feedback. Every person who I have seen grow in the past few years has been because of a series of active coaching where I talk with them about hits and misses.

In Three signs of a miserable job Lencioni talks about how we need to give the people who work for us measurable goals, and by that he means goals “they” can measure. I think we have a list of things for each person who works with us but it’s often unspoken and unclear. If we can work to make goals clear our team members will not just report for duty and keep kids from getting hurt but they will be proactive.

Let me explain what I am thinking for our teachers. Most parents ask their kids two questions 1. Did you have fun 2. What did you learn. What if every early childhood teacher measured their success by how many kids laughed out loud and how many kids could leave knowing the bottom line. I think it could fundamentally change how teach, how we coach and how kids learn. If kids are not laughing and are not learning we need to ask why. Asking those questions will point us to what changes we can implement so kids laugh and kids remember the bottom line. If we want our volunteers to last, to love what they do, and create a culture that makes volunteering magnetic then we must learn how to measure what our people do. At the end of the day if everything was crazy and nuts if they can say “Wow, I did great today” or “Wow, I know what I need to work on for next time.” We win, they win, culture wins, and ultimately the kids win.

Measurement will look different for everyone but what gets measured has lots to do with who benefits from your work. Who are you serving…..but….that my friends is a topic for another day….like shall we say tomorrow?

Three Signs of a Miserable Job.

Just finished reading this book had avoided it simply because if you are happy with your job reading a book like this doesn’t look the best to your co-workers. I wish I would have read this book years ago. It was amazing. Patrick Lencioni is an extremely gifted writer. About 2/3 of the book is a fable the last 1/3 he delves into the principles he revealed in the fable. In the book Lencioni outlines the three things that every manager must do to make sure their employees love their work and do their jobs in a way that reflects that fact. I want to break down each sign and talk about how they apply to children’s ministry.  Below is a brief summery of the whole book done by

Business books take many forms, but seldom are they fables. Patrick Lencioni breaks the mold with this charming book about a manager who turns his workers’ miserable jobs into fulfilling ones. He presents the fictional story of Brian Bailey, a big-hearted CEO who gets bought out, finds retirement dull and tries managing a seedy pizza parlor where the employees hate their jobs. Bailey quickly changes everything by the way he treats the shop’s people. Later he works his magic as the new CEO of a failing retail sporting-goods company with a ruinously high turnover rate, where his humane techniques turn things around again. Lencioni’s book is fun to read; its fable is touching yet credible. He reinforces important lessons all managers should know about getting the best from the people who work for them by providing empathy and recognizing the meaning of their work. If you are up for a parable,getAbstract recommends this engaging book. It spotlights a clear axiom: Treat people humanely and they will do as you wish – a valuable lesson for any manager or, indeed, anyone at all  (Quote taken from