What Hedgehogs Teach Us About Ministry

In Jim Collin’s classic book, Good to Great, he introduces readers to the idea of a Hedgehog Concept. Collins says the idea came from a famous essay by Isaiah Berlin called “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” It’s based on the ancient Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The fox uses multiple ideas and numerous strategies in its battles with the hedgehog. But, says Collins, the hedgehog always wins by using one simple, surefire approach – curling up into a ball. When the hedgehog employs this defensive position, it exposes his sharp spikes to deter attacks from predators. Despite the many and varied tactics the fox uses, the hedgehog always emerges victorious by using his one, focused strategy.

Collins goes on to say that the idea of a Hedgehog Concept has helped successful companies define who they are, focus their energies and become more successful. They do this by answering three critical questions. 1. What are you best at? 2. What are you most passionate about? 3. What drives your economic engine?

Developing a Hedgehog Concept for churches can be extremely valuable. As churches grow, they naturally drift towards complexity. So the need to define and embrace a Hedgehog Concept will help define vision and mission, give a framework around resource allocation and give clarity to critical decision making.

I was part of a church that used the Hedgehog Concept. The senior leaders asked the three questions. After much time, thought and prayer, their answers were incorporated into the culture of the church and helped the church in a major season of growth.

As church leaders who want to bring increased levels of organizational health to your churches, encourage your leaders to wrestle with these three questions.   Continue reading

Top 5 Work & Life Blog Posts of 2016

In over 30 years of ministry, I’ve noticed that many wise ministry principles can relate to work and life in general, and vice versa. Here are my top five blog posts of 2016 that contain wise principles for work and life. Enjoy!

Riding the Wind of the Spirit
What windsurfing teaches us about listening to God.

3 Simple Questions to Help Address Complex Issues
Very complex issues are best addressed by asking and answering very basic questions.

3 Principles of Productivity
Things to consider when making decisions and taking action.

Delegating Versus Releasing Authority: What’s the Difference?
Why releasing authority is better than delegating tasks.

6 Key Areas in Which to Develop Margin
How to replenish your energy by developing margin in your life.

3 Principles of Productivity

In any organization, how decisions are made and how things get done are extremely important. Volumes have been written about strong organizational health, effective managerial principles, and efficient company-wide practices.

The same holds true for the local church. Ensuring wise decision making and encouraging effective work habits are important and of eternal significance. Jesus gave his followers principles related to this idea. He said things like, “be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” And “Let your yes be YES. Let your no be NO.”

Productivity_4Seems simple, right? However, in my 30 years of ministry, I’ve learned that decisions and actions are actually more complex and hold greater significance than one might think. Making decisions and taking action can have far-reaching impact on hundreds, if not thousands, in your church and community. Therefore, it’s important to give this topic its due consideration, and to get this right. So, here are three principles to consider when making decisions and taking action.

What you do
Getting the job done efficiently is the bottom line in many organizations. Managers assigns tasks, provide instructions, give deadlines, and expect follow through. And your job, as a faithful employee, is to do it. Do it well. Do it on time. Exceed expectations, if possible. And, especially if you work in the church, do it joyfully. That’s simply how effective businesses are run.    

But for church employees there are additional thoughts to consider. In some work environments, it seems what is done is all that matters. But in other environments, like a church, how it’s done is also important. So, it’s a good idea to consider how you do what you do. Continue reading