Getting Ready for the Best Year Yet!

I haven’t written in weeks, but have great excuses. We had Annual Conference which was wonderful under the leadership of Bishop Jonathan Holston. Then the day after it ended I went on a 2 week tent-camping, fishing, and canoeing trip along the New River between North Carolina and Virginia. It was wonderful! There was great camaraderie, superb fishing, rushing rapids, adventurous mishaps, magnificent food, and good reading. Getting back in the saddle as a District Superintendent has been challenging, but I’m ready for this final year as a DS to go well. Oh, yeah, we also made a mad dash down to Florida to check on Narcie’s progress, and we start Cabinet Retreat this Monday with folks connected to Patrick Lencione as we work on what it means to be an Annual Conference team and what are our goals and strategies.

Describing a Bishop, DS’, and Conference Staff as a team should go without saying, but we have all probably heard or seen the opposite. I just reread Lencione’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team for the first time in 8 years when it was recommended in Baby DS School, and am now reading his book The Advantage for the first time. Good stuff! Challenging stuff. He doesn’t say the following things, but it’s what comes to my mind as I think about the church’s organizational health. There are two primary questions: “What business are we in?” and “How’s business?” I can answer the first question with the acronym “MD4C” – Making Disciples for Christ. The second question is a lot more nebulous and complex. Some people want to talk about metrics that suggest an outcome-based answer. Others want to describe a healthy church as one that’s relevant, relational, missional, touchy-feely, and friendly. I want both descriptions! Numbers with a personal nuance!

And I know that you can’t slogan your way to better health as a church or as a person. Slogans and mission statements are usually so pie-in-the-sky that they don’t really mean much anyway. Writing a mission statement makes everybody feel good before the meeting or retreat is over, but then it’s back to the grind where theory is replaced by harsh reality. And in the church we’re too “nice” to care enough to confront reality and sub-par performance in our peers. So we go along to get along and the result is usually mediocrity. Oh, I like slogans and I like them short enough to be memorized and long enough to be memorable, but slogans are only as good as what we do with them.

We can talk a good game about organizational health but sheer talk is mushy rambling without clear action and buy-in as a team. According to Lencione the five stages to organizational health are: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. Put another way, he says that the five dysfunctions are an absence of trust evidenced by a lack of vulnerability; fear of conflict with its artificial harmony; a lack of commitment with too much ambiguity as its evidence; avoidance of accountability whose evidence is low standards; and, finally, inattention to results whose evidence is seen in self-promotion and ego issues among team members. Let me tell you, Lencione is worth the read!

I can say over and over again how I would like our denomination, annual conference, or so-and-so to be better and do such-and-such, but if I never do anything about it or take it to the actionable level, I’m not doing anybody any good. I guess that’s where I am – caught between deciding to make a difference or to just bide my time in this last year as a DS. Do I check out of the process and play the lame duck bureaucrat, or do I fully engage for my own personal growth and that of the United Methodist Church?

If you know me, you know the answer. As a person with at least 15 more good years to give to the UMC, I am going to choose to be all-in. If I can give a canoeing trip my best, or support my daughter with my best, or be a rabid Gamecock fan with my best, how dare I, for one second, not give my best to the church that I’ve seen Jesus use more often than not to save souls and save society? So here goes, “I’mmmmmm baaaaack!” I want to do everything I can to get ready for the best year yet!

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14 thoughts on “Getting Ready for the Best Year Yet!

    1. Thanks and God bless you, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 6, 2013, at 5:26 PM, “A Potter’s View”

  1. I never thought you had left, Tim! I’m going to have to read Lenciones’s book. Now that Steve and I are back in Gainesville we are worshipping at Trinity UMC again. I’ve been without an appointment for two years and asking God: “So why did I complete COS?” What I hear from Him is that I’ve been through so many big life events that He had to gives need timeme

    1. Narcie’s husband, Mike, is on music staff at Trinity! Praying for your discernment and that of others, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 6, 2013, at 9:43 PM, “A Potter’s View”

  2. Now to continue: God knew I needed a time out. The one thing that spoke to me in your blog was that I need to give God my best!
    I’m still praying for Narcy and family. Have a great year.
    God rocks!

    1. Amen, Mary! Got to have Sabbath then get back at it! Thanks for prayers! tim Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 6, 2013, at 10:01 PM, “A Potter’s View”

  3. May God truly bless you and His Church with all that we do. We are glad Narcie is getting better everyday . Love in Christ, Emily

    PS. I think Dr. McPherson and his family will be a good fit for our church and our community. It is so good to see children in the parsonage again.

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Emily, Glad Kurt and family are being welcomed like we were! Cheraw is such a wonderful place. Keep praying for Narcie – 2 weeks more radiation, months of chemo, still speech and hand issues, not to mention brain tumor. tim

      Sent from my iPad

      On Jul 7, 2013, at 7:19 AM, “A Potter’s View”

  4. We remember and pray for Narcie and all of you. And, we remember the SC Conference and our dear friend and your bishop.

    1. Amen, Bill, Y’all in NGA gave us a wonderful gift in Bishop Holston! Narcie is improving but need is still great. Thanks, Bill!

      tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 8, 2013, at 11:35 AM, “A Potter’s View”

  5. I am one of your COS students and I want you to know you played a vital roll in my life even if you had to teach while laying on a table. I was in Brady Whitehead’s class and we prayed you would be elected Bishop. I made a ballot up and voted for you and Brady. Neither of you were elected. Brady said it was his first and only vote. Tim McClendon, I will be one of those yard birds saying thank you for giving to the Lord when we both get to heaven.
    Thank you,
    Ron Thomas

    1. Ron, I remember you well and miss all of you! God bless you for your kind words,

      tim

      Sent from my iPad

      On Jul 9, 2013, at 10:24 PM, “A Potter’s View”

    1. And you, too, Ken! Love you, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 10, 2013, at 12:37 PM, “A Potter’s View”

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