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George Krebs

Our Team, Not My Team

Every time he saw me, a recently hired 16 year old (Bongiorno Conference Center kitchen employee) he would say, “Hey boss, what’s up?” After a half dozen comments, I told him, “I’m not the boss; I’m the team leader.” The look on his face said it all. His next question was, “What’s a team leader?”

This made me think; we talk team all the time. Team building is the hot topic in business, church, education and sports. Everybody wants to build a great team. But what lies at the core of a team?

If you Google team building you will get hundreds, if not thousands, of sites for books, seminars, trainings, podcasts, YouTube videos and much, much more.

I’ve built several teams in my lifetime; some were super effective and some not so effective—so what’s the difference?

With a team, all members share input as well as all sharing in the outcome. Everyone owns it. Everyone has a vested interest in winning.

How does one develop good team members?

PRAY

I pray for God to send me and surround me with the right people. Jesus said in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

It is rare that God ever sends us plug-and-play, ready-to-go phenomenal team members. I believe He sends us good people and wants us to develop them.

SERVE THEM

I treat people the way I want to be treated. Be kind, generous, and genuine. I determine to go the second mile in serving those God sends me.

ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR STRENGTHS

I look at their strengths (Strengths Finder 2) and try to place them in areas that maximize their strengths. People who serve in their strengths seem to maximize their service.

I strive to know them and understand them. We look at all of the team’s personality/temperaments (Personality Plus). I hope to help them understand who they are and how they are wired. This helps us know each other better. As a team we begin to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every personality and how we function emotionally, as a parent, at work, as a friend and as a team member. As we begin to know team members, we begin to build trust with one another.

SHARE THE WINS

I try to help each team member understand they are making a difference, and together we make a tremendous difference in the lives of people. When people know their work on a team really counts, they will have a tendency to make their commitment to the team count even more.

HELP THEM SUCCEED

I try to give my team members certain markers they can use to measure their success. They need to know they’re doing a better job today than they did yesterday. There is a sense of engagement when you can measure your success.

WELCOME HEALTHY CONFLICT

As our appreciation of one another grows through knowing and understanding team members, our trust also grows. I welcome healthy conflict. Healthy conflict is not to be taken personally; it’s not about team members, it’s about building a better outcome and team purpose.

True teams share decisions. There is always a team leader who is responsible, but the pressure of leadership is easier to bear when there is a collective of leaders reaching those decisions.

The wisdom of teams:

In a true team, when one wins, we all win. Allow team members to make mistakes without consequences, just don’t let them make the same mistake twice (then they haven’t learned). When team members step it up and fail, I take the blame if they succeed, I give them the credit. I’ve said it before, one is too small of a number to make a great difference. Our team will always accomplish greater feats than I ever could alone. I am indebted to them.

Turnaround Kids’ Ministry

I receive several calls and emails asking, “How can I turn around our church’s children’s ministry?” This request comes from the leadership of all size churches. Many are looking for someone, volunteer or part time, to make it happen for the church. Often that one person ends up burning out too soon, so first and foremost, pray for a team. Ask the Lord of the harvest for workers, not a solitary worker. Remember one is usually too small of a number to make a significant difference.

Here are some steps that can help turn children’s ministry in the right direction.

  1. Communicate the need. When the congregation understands the urgency and importance of a solid and engaging children’s ministry, they begin to adopt the awareness of what is important to the life of the church. When the pastor preaches on the importance of children, it soon becomes important to the listener. Share a simple, but clear vision for what your church’s kid’s ministry can become. Start off with a simple, easy to grasp future; include what your church values in their ministry to kids. This will help the congregation envision what will be the most important concepts for kids’ ministry.
  2. The BIG ask. People respond to a vision from the pulpit that has been highlighted as important and valuable, especially if it’s a team concept. Many will be overwhelmed and decline if they feel it all falls on them. Ask people to be a part of this most valuable team. Team ministry lightens the load and eases the pressure to volunteer.

  3. Equip and appreciate the team. Help team members do what they do best. If they are teachers, train them. If they are running a game night, resource them. Make their ministry easy. My famous saying to my team, “What do you need from me?” Then, appreciate the team in as many ways as possible; I’m still working on this.

  4. Share the win. Do everything you can to show that great ministry has been accomplished. Feature children and kids’ leaders publicly as often as possible. Mention something weekly to the congregation. Remember, that people want to be a part of a winning team. When team members know their ministry matters, they will continue to serve with passion.

  5. Evaluate everything in a positive light. Help the team measure their success in ministry. An easy to understand vision and values will be the goal and guide. Help the team to understand it is never about the individual, it’s about creating a better children’s ministry.

Adapted from the article: Six Steps to Revitalizing Your Children’s Ministry, by Jeremy White, Influence Magazine, September 8, 2017

How Does #BetterTogether Happen?

I am a “Do It Yourself” kind of guy. After high school I spent time in the military and then a few years at several entry level jobs. At age 22, I started a career in the metal fabrication industry, again mostly working solo. I started college at age 32 and began ministry as an associate pastor at age 36.

It was then I realized one is too small of a number to really make an impact. It was a large church, and I was in charge of children’s ministry, Christian education and discipleship, adult Sunday school, small groups, outreach and drama ministry, as well as baby dedication, water baptism and membership. Being overwhelmed, I was suddenly thrust into
developing teams.

I had to recruit, develop, train, release and then supervise people to help me accomplish the task God gave me; most of all I had to pray for guidance and direction. God usually did not send me leaders ready to go, instead He sent me ordinary people; it was my job to equip them to do extraordinary ministry.

How does “Better Together” happen? 

  • I earnestly pray that God leads me to the right person, and He does.
  • I share my heart and vision with passion; it’s always about making a difference.
  • I always give team members what they need to be successful.
  • I make them look good; if all goes well they get the credit; if they fail, I take the blame.
  • I release them to do it their way, knowing what end result is needed.

If things fail, I am not a punisher; everything is a learning experience, what can we do better as a team. It seems few teams last forever; my greatest joy in being “Better Together” is watching God move people on to greater ministry and bringing new team members to share the journey with me. Try it, it’s worth it.

Scrooge Effect

Growing up in the 60s, it wouldn’t have been Christmas without watching “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Although the story was performed by many great actors of the day, my family usually watched the Mr. Magoo version. As a sixth grader with an appetite to read everything I got my hands on, I received a set of classics for Christmas. One of those classics was the full version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

This was a life-changing novel for a kid that never went to church and did not know Christ. I marveled at the life change Ebenezer Scrooge received after his look at the past, present and future. I feel it was the ghost of “Christmas Yet To Come” that prompted Scrooge to so desperately change. Even as a sixth grader, I too wanted a future where people would think the best of me.

Little did I know that seven years later, almost to the day, I would commit to the life transformation process brought on by a different ghost, the Holy Ghost. As God’s Spirit began to work in me, I changed from the self-centered jerk that I didn’t even like to the nice guy the new nature began to reveal in me.

I soon learned you reap what you sow in life and in people. Some would call this Biblical principle the “Scrooge Effect.” Why? Something happens within us when we show kindness; our outlook is brightened. According to Psychology Today, students at Stanford University who performed five “random acts of kindness” a week were happier, got sick less often, and had better relationships than those who didn’t.

Proverbs 19:17 tells us, “Being kind to the poor is like lending to the Lord. The Lord will reward you for what you have done.” This is a principle of being rewarded by God for showing kindness, especially to those who are less fortunate.

When we go from being self-centered to generous, we also go from ordinary to extraordinary. Think of someone you admire, someone who has been kind and generous to you. You can be thought of in that same way by being kind and generous to others. It is a simple life choice, and we can do it at no cost or invest as much as God tells us.

Five of us were waiting for a friend at a very popular fast food restaurant. While in a long line, we kept letting people (about 20 of them) in front of us. We made their day with kindness!

A colleague of mine tells of a very distressed waitress. It seems a table left without paying and her boss was taking it from her salary. When finished, my friend paid his bill, the offender’s bill, and also left a very generous gratuity. My friend was lending to God according to Proverbs.

While attending a pastors’ conference with my lead pastor. He invited two new church planters to have lunch with us. He not only bought their lunch, but found out how much they sacrificed financially to attend the conference and issued checks to cover their expenses.

After Scrooge’s transforming experience, we see a much different man; a man who desires to be generous. When Bob Cratchit arrives to work on Christmas day, Scrooge raises his salary, endeavors to help his struggling family and then tells him to order more coal to warm up the office.

Volunteer at the homeless shelter one day and make a visit to a shut-in the next; perhaps shovel the snow from your neighbors sidewalk. This Christmas you don’t have to change the world, but by blessing someone with kindness, well, it changes YOUR world!

A few nuggets from the Stanford University study:

  • Be nice as often as possible. In the study, the participants who did all five random acts in one day reported the highest levels of satisfaction.
  • Do your good deeds in person. Writing a check is great, but you need to be face-to-face if you really want to experience the “Scrooge effect.”
  • There’s a reason they’re called ‘RANDOM’ acts of kindness. In several studies, the positive effects of a good deed wore off when it was repeated. Why? Anything we do over and over becomes routine. So you need to mix it up.

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