Had a great time of prayer with some incredible folks on Sunday who shared a few thoughts with me… things that I’d been thinking on and they had no clue about. Wayne shared a verse with me that I haven’t been able to shake. Matthew 13:53 (amplified shown below)
He said to them, Therefore every [a]teacher and interpreter of the Sacred Writings who has been instructed about and trained for the kingdom of heaven and has [b]become a disciple is like a householder who brings forth out of his storehouse treasure that is new and [treasure that is] old [the fresh as well as the familiar].
Over the past number of years I’ve wrestled with walking out the future in the present while honoring and building upon the past. Sometimes in the church world we get stuck in the arena of “we’ve always done it this way.” Anyone who knows me knows I love change. I love forward movement. I love trying something new. But I’ve also learned the incredible importance of celebrating the present and honoring and building upon the past. This verse reenforces that God’s Kingdom isn’t just about the latest thing or the newest revelation (be it a new way of doing something or a prophetic utterance in charismatic circles) it’s a blend of the new and the old. The truths and values that have brought us to this place. As we move forward to do so with a firm grasp on the foundations laid in the past.
I’ve been watching Shredded Wheat’s latest advertising campaign (well worth a visit to www.thepalaceoflight.com) and appreciated the new and the old coming together in some very creative and amusing ways. As we build forward lets be creative, culturally relevant and engaging, but lets make sure we bring out the old and the new treasures.
Learned a lot at Gettysburg and Philadelphia this week. One item got me thinking. Color bearers carry the flag into battle. An honor & heavy responsibilty. In the heat of battle the flag became a rallying point. If you’re a leader have you identified color bearers & how are you equipping them to carry the vision, weather the storm & lead others.
I’ve learned alot about finding color bearers over the past couple of years… Those who understand and own the mission and can lead the charge with others are vital I beleive to the success of any organization, church or business. I don’t think it’s possible to advance long term without color bearers. I appreciate those who are carry the flag in battlefield.
Recently a good friend of mine sent me email he had received from Bill Marriott (obviously a corporate email, but I really appreciated the attempts to make the experience a personal one… which is a mantra for the Marriott group). Anyhow it was a letter to rewards customers thanking them and sharing a little of what’s ahead for 2009. What caught my attention was check out “my blog.” Bill Marriott has a blog? I’m intrigued.
One of the best stories I’ve ever heard and a letter I read all the time when talking about the kind of culture we’re trying to create at Cornerstone is one a lady wrote to Mr Marriott when she ended up in one of his hotels on business and really needed to get back to home for her sisters funeral. She thanked him for the thoughtfulness, attention to detail and personal care that the Charles and the night staff treated her with. They had treated her as an individual. Anyhow when I saw that Mr Marriott had a blog I had to check it out… he’s a man running a huge corporation, travels to 300 of his hotels every year to give them his version of the white glove test and he writes a blog. Genius! You should check it out. Mr Marriott tells personal stories of why he does things the way he does, and why his hotels have ended up being the kind of hotels they are. He gives people the opportunity to share their stories, ideas and experiences – good, bad or indifferent. He’s having a conversation with his guests. Very smart and totally sincere.
I think the key to great customer service is to listen. The guest may not always say something, but if you listen carefully you’ll hear something, see something, perceive something that will allow you to serve them. Mr Marriott has created a culture on this idea, and created venue or vehicles by which his guests can participate, and they do so. I’ve noticed an increasing number of churches doing online surveys for their guests which is a great step. But if the Church is one of the only organizations on planet earth that exists for the benefit of it’s non members (and of course so that they can experience the kind of change those who have crossed the line of faith are experiencing) then how do we work at creating a culture, venues and vehicles where people are served. In the words of the Marriott organization it’s the “spirit to serve.” Let the conversation begin.
On a personal note, I’m so proud of what God has done amongst us at Cornerstone this fall. We’ve spent the entire fall and now the Christmas season talking about and putting into practice service as a value… and people have jumped in and been dreaming ways they can serve and make a difference. Whether it’s how we treat people when they come through our doors, deliver a Thanksgiving foodbox, serve at a homeless shelther or partner with an organization that’s already making a difference in our community. It’s that “spirit to serve” that has permeated our culture this fall. Way to go Cornerstone!
Just arrived in Atlanta and picked up a live blog from perry nobles session. Most notable quote so far… “We can’t expect the Spirit to lead us professionally if we’re not yielded to Him privately.”
There’s a whole lot I learned from my week on Disney (I realize it was a vacation but there’s always something to learn no matter where you go)… anyhow rounding out the week here’s a fifth thing Disney taught me…
People matter and they deserve our passionate, wholehearted attention.
The picture above is of Jeff (one of our hosts when we were staying in the castle). Jeff has a pretty important role at Disney. He’s one of a select few that takes care of VIP guests and celebrities. As I understand it (based on some conversations with fellow employees who seem to highly regard Jeff) he’s been offered multiple promotions to upper management and has turned them down because he loves what he does. He’s passionate about people and making sure they have the time of their life. I believe just ten days prior to sword fighting with my four year old he was taking care of Michael Phelps. I can’t tell you how much Jeff made our Disney experience.
If you’ve ever visited Disney, have you ever noticed how any of their cast members answers your question? You might be the twentieth person to ask them that question that day. They may have been asked that question a million times… but they answer you as if its the first time they’ve ever been asked that question.
As an organization, and I would say even at a personal level for each cast member, they are passionately committed to people and making sure they have a great experience. Jeff exemplified this for the Gilpin family. Michael Phelps to Madeline Gilpin… doesn’t matter, his focus and passion was engaged in making sure that whomever he was taking care of felt important and valued (based on what matter to the person they where serving, which happened to be sword fighting for my four yearl old) and make that person was having the time of their life. I forget who said it, but “the most important person is the one right in front of you at any given time.” They deserve our passionate, wholehearted attention.
In life, and in church life, there’s are lots of things that need to get done, tons of people to talk and engage with… but when we’re talking with people are we fully engaged or looking around for the next person or thinking about what’s next. Jeff reminded me that the people in front of us are the most important. Thanks Jeff!
Disney doesn’t do anything by half measures. The playground at the resort what swept clean of pine needles each and every morning, streets at all the parks where scrubbed and made like new every night for the following day, litter was non-existent. The costumes, the shows, the transportation systems… they’re committed to excellence, and though it may cost more and eat into profits, it’s a non negotiable, it’s a core value that’s evident and a vitual part of their vision (perhaps with the exception of their over priced plastic toys). As I walked through the parks it became increasingly obvious that excellence attracts excellence, not just amongst the employees, but even amongst the guests. If there was a cup or piece of litter laying around someone, including guests, was picking it up. Excellence was contagious. Everyone was getting in on the act. Excellence matters and excellence attracts excellence.
Okay so it was a vacation and trust me I wish real life could be more like Disney… but there were lessons to be learned everywhere.
Lesson number one: Never forget you’re a part of a bigger story.
There’s a difference between going to the Great Escape (a Six Flags Park 45 minutes from our house) where teenagers understand their function (take people’s tickets or count riders) verses a Disney cast members that owns the vision. They’re a cast member, part of a larger story that unfolds throughout each park/resort. While they may have a responsibility for receiving tickets, making sure the park stays clean etc, the objective is to make sure that every guest has the time of their life. While the individual’s name might be Jeff from Orlando, FL, they’re a cast member and part of a bigger story with an important role to play. The key is to never lose sight of the vision and mission. Never forget you’re part of a bigger story. When we focus simply on function, we lose sight of the objective. I once read a great quote about how leaders keep their eyes on the horizon not just the bottomline. When we focus on simply the bottomline, the function, the how to stuff, we lose sight of the bigger picture, the vision, the objective. Disney has done a great job training every cast member to keep their eye on both the horizon and the bottomline.