Strategic Planning for Dummies

Strategic planning can sometimes be difficult to explain. This diagram I developed has helped me easily explain the process I call strategic planning for dummies.

Strategic planning for dummies

The outside circle represents the process of strategic planning.

  • Plan what you want to do
  • Train and communicate to those who will carry out the plan
  • Execute the plan
  • Review/evaluate what you accomplished

The three questions to evaluate how well you are doing are these (the triangle):

  • What? (do you have a clear target, goals, mission?)
  • How? (do you have simple and effective systems in place to accomplish your goals?)
  • Who? (are you using unified teams of people to accomplish your goals?)

Here’s the diagram.

Related posts. Strategic Planning for Dummies, part 2.

What a Guy Who’s been on a Ventilator for 20 Years Taught Me

About 3 months ago a guy wheeled into our church strapped into a motorized wheelchair and breathing on a ventilator. I didn’t learn his name nor begin to learn his story until about a month ago. I spent an hour with him this week and was deeply moved by his story.

It all began when one of the nurses in our church who serves as one of his 24 hour a day nurses invited him to church. He took her up on the offer and has come ever since. Each Sunday I’ve greeted him and recently decided to invite him to the office for a chat. He gladly accepted and we spent a delightful hour together. At age 46, he’s now been on a ventilator 24/7 for over 20 years due to a chronic illness that has wracked his body. Few people live that long hooked to a machine that keeps them alive. He’s come close to death several times and his brother died from the same disease 10 years ago.

Here are a few insights I gleaned from him.

  • Persistence pays off. When his father died, the insurance company wanted to cancel his insurance. After three years and several lawyers, he beat the insurance company and is still insured. For those three years every day he called the insurance company and told them, ‘I’m going to call you every day I’m alive.” Eventually, his rep would beat him to the phone and would call him before he called her.
  • Dads who plan ahead for their kids really matter. He explained that his dad planned well ahead for his son’s care and when his dad was terminally ill, he didn’t stop planning.
  • Most people won’t even look a handicapped person in the eye. He remarked that several people at our church were very nice to him. That really impressed him. However, he also remarked that in general most people feel so uncomfortable around those with disabilities that they often treat them as if they are invisible.
  • You can’t feel sorry for yourself. This guy was so committed to making something of his life that he started a lawn care business with a friend. His friend cuts the grass and he does the books. He realized that sitting around and pouting about his condition accomplished nothing.
  • Never take ‘no’ for an answer. Twenty years ago the doctors told his parents to take him home and let him die. My friend would not accept that and battled back and lives today.
  • You can’t put a value on a life based on what a person can physically do. My friend can only move his left hand enough to  push the two inch lever for his motorized wheelchair. Yet, he is as fully alive as I am with my body fully mobile.
  • An engaging worship service can touch the heart of an unbeliever. He’s still in his journey toward Christ yet loves what he is experiencing. One of his nurses recently balked at going to church with him. He told her, “Come with me or I get a new nurse.”

So, the next time you see someone in a wheelchair, look at him or her in the eye, say ‘Hi,’ and see what kind of door opens up for you.

If you Knew you’d never again see someone you love, what would your parting words be?

If you knew you would never see someone you loved again in this life, what would you say?

I’ve move as a pastor/teaching pastor from two churches in the last 20 years, and I’ve shared these 10 parting thoughts to those people I loved, not knowing if I’d ever see them again.

1. Say thank-you a lot.

  • 1Ths. 5:16   Be joyful always;   17 pray continually;   18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

2. Look for the good in people and tell them.

  • Eph. 4:29   Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

3. Don’t morph into your culture so as to make your commitment to Christ a spiritual casuality.

4.  Live in grace, but don’t abuse it. Consider a higher standard for life than everybody else.

  • 1Pet. 1:15 As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.

5.  Relate to others with a grace filled heart.

  • See people through God’s eyes.
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt.
  • Freely forgive.
  • Don’t hold grudges.
  • When you are wrong, admit it and don’t make excuses-ask for forgivess.
  • Seek understanding before being understand.

6.  Laugh a lot, but not at people to make them feel bad.

7. Trust God’s heart even when you don’t see his hand at work.

  • Gal. 6:9 So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.

8.  Be faithful in the small stuff.

  • Luke 16:10   Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

9.  Don’t live life safely.

10. Finish well.

  • 2Tim. 4:7   I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day –and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
  • Luke 19:17   `Well done, my good servant!’

What are the 10 things you tell someone you love?

What I Learned about Team from 3,000 People Last Weekend

This past weekend, between Thursday and Sunday, over 3,000 people volunteered to pack over 500,000 meals for Haiti at our church.

It was an incredible collaborative effort between people from five churches, the community, and local businesses. We partnered with a Christian organization called Feed My Starving Children whose sole purpose is encapsulated in its name. They raise money to pay for a dry mix of food and use thousands of volunteers to pack the food in local churches and at their packing centers. Each volunteer took a two hour shift to help.

Here’s what I learned through this huge team effort.

  1. Most people, whether Christian or not, want to help other people. After all, we are made in the image of God.
  2. People get jazzed when they help others if they do it with others.
  3. We must give money to meet needs, but when we get our hands dirty in meeting those needs, it affects us at a deeper level.
  4. When Christians ‘Do’ Christianity outside of Sunday, when they worship on Sunday, corporate worship becomes more meaningful.
  5. It’s more fun serving others when we serve in a team.

What have you learned about team ministry in your setting?

Mashed Potatoes, Pride, and God’s Eyes

First impressions often stymie how God wants us to perceive others.

Recently we vacationed in Mississippi to visit my wife’s dad and sister. Our visits there have become quite routine. Each day I get up, run, take a shower, go to a buffet, take a nap, watch TV, go to bed, and then the next day I do the exact same thing. Boring, but restful. On that visit’s third day we were enjoying lunch at Ryan’s all-you-can-eat buffet on 16th Avenue…for the third time that week. I’m naturally skinny, so I justify these twice annual binges without too much concern for lasting weight gain.

Unfortunately, Mississippi has the dubious distinction of being the third most overweight state. I understand why when every other restaurant advertises their version of the “all-you-can-eat buffet.”

That day at Ryans as I pigging out on tacos, field peas, fried chicken wings, and yeast rolls, I noticed a table about 15 feet from ours around which sat four very large women.

I watched as one woman brought her two plates back from the buffet line. They both overflowed with multiple varieties of fried foods stacked on top of a six-inch high dollop of mashed potatoes and brown gravy.

With disgust I thought to myself, This woman is slowly killing herself. Doesn’t she realize what she is doing to herself? She is easily a 100 pounds overweight. Doesn’t she even care? Makes me sick!

As I downed my pile of fried okra like I was eating M&M’s, I felt disgust at this woman. At that moment in the midst of my insolent conceit, God’s gentle voice whispered something like this to my heart.

Charles, you don’t know her story, do you? How can you be so proud? She may not have come from a family who loved you like yours did you. On the contrary, for all you know, she may have been abused as a child. She may have never known real love from a mom or a dad or a grandma or a grandpa. Her unhealthy eating may be her misguided way to numb the pain in her heart. Charles, remember I want you to see others through My eyes, not yours. Are you seeing her in that way?

In a flash, God did two things for me.

  • First, He convicted me of my condescension toward that woman.
  • Second, He gave me new eyes though which to see her.

Sometimes life lessons come to us in the most unusual places through the most unsuspecting ways.

I hope this brief experience will remind me of this lesson the next time someone’s unpleasant appearance or poor choice tempts me to to see him or her through my eyes, rather that through God’s eyes.

How about you? Have you ever prematurely drawn conclusions based simply on what you see in someone’s appearance rather than looking deeper?