Mid Life Calling – Year 2

It’s hard to say the exact date when I realized God’s call on my life had changed. Do you time such things by the moments you actually do something? Or the times you think something? Was it the first time I realized religious TV had to change in order to survive, in order to have an audience with younger generations? Was it when i came up with a show idea or 10? When I decided to create something different? It feels more like it should be from the times I decided to change my career.

I don’t remember the exact day my wife looked at me and said that maybe it was time to have the talk with my boss. Or the exact day I had that meeting. Or the week everything was agreed on. It must have been sometime around April/May. My last day in the office was the 21st of that June. So let’s say it was my birthday, April 4th. That’s as good a day as any.

So, today. 42 years old. 2 years into a mid life calling. It’s not a crisis. Not always. In fact, in the beginning, it never was. I didn’t get a new car. (although I would like a sporty convertible. What is up with that? So cliche, but still true.) I wish I could say that everything had been amazing and wonderful. It has been very interesting.

Sometimes people say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. That’s bunk. Lots of times following God takes you through some scary, dangerous, hard pathways. I know. The biggest lesson we have learned is to trust God. Before this I always had a job with a steady paycheck, we always had security. And that was just fine. But during this time, every bill has been paid on time. God has been faithful.

There are days when I wonder when I will give up. When I will say, forget this dream, go back to something you know will pay the bills. What’s it worth?

But, we have accomplished a lot. 10 episodes of an award winning Christian sitcom completed and broadcast around the world for an amazingly low amount of money. Short film scripts and feature scripts done. Ideas of new shows. Contacts and relationships developed.

I recently went to a “meet up” with a group of fellow dreamers. I met them online through an author/speaker named Jon Acuff. He was in town, and one morning we gathered in the lobby of a local hotel. Here most of us are. At one point there was about 15 of us. I’m in the back row, middle, peering over a shoulder.


In the conversation I asked how to overcome obstacles and not get discouraged. Jon told us that a lot of time we just don’t give our dreams enough time. We often expect things to happen on our own time table. But it takes a lot longer than we think.

So 2 years in… I’m not where I want to be. But I am a lot closer.


Year 1

caledarOne year ago I stopped being a media pastor.

I left my job. I left a steady paycheck with benefits in a bad economy. I left with just a mortgage, utilities, and some money in the bank. I left with a wife and 3 kids to provide for.

I left with a vision, a dream, that I still believe God has given me.

I wish I could say that everything has been awesome. I’ve dipped further into our savings than I expected. I’ve not had the number of freelance gigs I hoped.

But, that sitcom I’ve been working on, we just finished taping the 10th episode. It’s playing on 3 Christian networks this Summer. And the first 6 episodes hit DVD July 16th. One of the episodes even got chosen for screening at the Gideon Film Festival this Summer. Not bad for the first effort.

And working from home? Love it. I see my kids now. That last few months at the church, when God was nudging me pretty hard about making the move. I was working 60+ hours a week, every week. For about 5 months. Frankly, that’s too much. Once in a while there are busy seasons, but not 5 months straight. I won’t ever do that again. It’s not worth it.

I may still work 60+ hours, but their my hours on my project. And my family sees me. They can talk to me. I am not missing my children growing up anymore. I’m not leaving my wife to raise my kids by herself anymore.

I can’t believe how supportive my wife has been. She is amazing.

We just finished shooting 4 more episodes of the show. I’m in the middle of post production. Once these are done, I will likely put these on a DVD with some bonus features and see if we can get them released as well. If enough money comes in, we could revisit Peculiar again.

What’s next? I’ve got ideas for a documentary and a movie that could turn into a series… but I really want to shoot someone else’s script. I want to find a good script that I can produce. I’ve also got a couple ideas for general religious TV shows that could appeal to younger audiences.

And, still looking to add more freelance work. Gotta’ pay the bills. Camera, audio, video work.

One year in, this is what I know. God provides. Every bill has been paid. We have not gone hungry. We took a huge step of faith, and God provides.

October 4th Apple Event: Recap-arama

Today was the latest iPhone announcement from Apple. there has been a lot of hype and rumormongering about what would be coming out. but today at 1:00 PM EST, we got the facts.

The event was about an hour and a half long. It could have been much shorter. there was a huge amount of time spent recapping what we already knew. iCloud, iOS5 and iTunes Match. I get that they were not releasing a lot of new things today, but they could have shot for an hour and cut down a lot of that stuff.

I was more interested in what was new…

Cards. This app lets you create cards that Apple will print and then mail to your designated address. $3 in the USA and $5 internationally. Cool. Nothing earth shattering, but cool.

Find my Family and Friends. Now people can let friends and family see where they are by tracking the location of their iPhone. This will be good for parents to track their kids. Might also work for teens trying to find their friends at the mall, I guess.

Lower prices for iPods. There is a decent update on Nano software, which later reports say will also be available for previous 2010 Nano owners. Price drop for the Nano and the Touch. At $199, I wonder if this was planned or in response to the Kinf=dle Fire announcement?

The major announcement was the iPhone 4S.

As I predicted, there was only one iPhone announced today. maybe because my expectations were lower, I have been surprised by the reaction. The iPhone 4 was/is an amazing phone. The 4S is better. Does it really matter if the name of it isn’t “iPhone 5”? Even stock prices dropped a bit.

The 4S has every feature that was predicted, plus a couple.

The A5 chip: Dual processors and fast graphics. Even faster photo taking.

8MP camera: Some very nice features. 1080p video.

Antenna: Supposed 4G real world speed? That’s a bold claim. But if it does download faster, I like it.

Video Mirroring: I love airplay, and making presentations with Keynote is going to be killer. (If you can call any presentation killer)

World Phone: no surprise here. CDMA and GSM.

One of the coolest features is the Siri voice control. This didn’t surface until just recently. Apple bought the company a while back, and now is set to release some truly amazing voice features.

Frankly, it’s a little bit scary. I’m reminded of that scene in Star Trek IV where Scotty tries to talk to the computer. This could be very useful. I could easily find myself using the dictation thing and setting up reminders and sending texts while driving, all hands free.

My disappointment was that there wasn’t just “one more thing.” I was really hoping for an update to the Apple TV software.

One thing I noticed while watching the video of the presentation, the presenters were not as smooth and polished at Jobs was/is. There were a couple of stumbles. And Cook, while efficient, wasn’t and inspiring as Jobs.

Is the disappointment with today’s announcement simply because of the lack of “reality distortion field” that Jobs brings to these events? people used to make fun of that, but it was a very real thing. I suspect that Jobs could give a keynote on ice and get eskimos to buy some. Well, Cook doesn’t deliver like Jobs does. But the gear is just as cool.

I suspect the disappointment will wane as people get to use this device in the real world.

The “Me” in Team

There is no “I” in Team

That is true. The team succeeds together and fails together. Individuals make up a team, but without the team, the individual has it much harder. Teamwork is critical.

But there is a “me” in team.

Grammatically, an “I” is the subject (or subjective pronoun to be precise), and it acts through verbs. The “me” is an object (objective pronoun), and has things done to it. That is, you and I do things to the object of the sentence. The subject of the sentence does things to you and me.

How does that apply to teamwork? Members of the team must be aware of what they are doing to individuals on the team. Sometimes, individuals on the team should take measures to protect themselves.

As leaders, we must be aware of the pressure members of the team are experiencing, both as it relates to work and circumstances outside of work. I know guys who work in tech that have gone as many as 27 days in a row without a day off. That is unhealthy. If you regularly ask members of you team to work over 50 hours, you need to step back an re evaluate how your team operates.

Don’t get me wrong. I know, and expect there to be times when members of the team will be asked to give more time than normal. But, when we get an idea and look to executing it, do we consider the state of those we are asking? If there is just one guy on the team that can do what we need done, and it’s late in the week, do we think about what he already has planned with his family before we ask him to clear his weekend? Can we wait, or must it be done as soon as possible? Could we have planned better, and how can we improve for next time?

These have to be considerations for the team leader. Or for the people who need the help of a team. It cannot just be about what we want, we must consider the individuals on the teams as well as the overall goals of the team.

As a member of the team, you must protect yourself. Take your vacation. Work with your supervisor and schedule your time off. I try to take time off right before things get very busy, so I am fresh. Time for individuals to relax and recharge is critical to the success of the team.

This is the tricky part, develop a relationship with your supervisor, and others you work with, that allows you to talk openly about the demands placed on your life. I am talking specifically about work, but if there is a personal thing going on, being able to talk with your boss abut it can help ease tension around the workplace. If you have the right kind of relationship, when people come asking you to clear your schedule, and you have an important family ting, you can probably work out schedule that allows the goals to be met and you to do right by your family.

Hear me, your job is not more important than your relationship with God, it is not more important than your family. Yes, you need to keep your job in order to provide for them, but you should not let your job even have the appearance of being in line before your family.

Teams that have consideration for the individuals that make up the team are healthier, and have more stamina. Take a look at how your teams work, and help them get healthy.

The “End Run” and Why It’s Bad for Ministry

end run
1. Football. Also called end sweep, sweep. a running play in which the ball-carrier attempts to outflank the defensive end.
2. Informal.
a. an evasive or diversionary maneuver.
b. an attempt to surmount a difficulty without confronting it directly.

I love football season. I always play two fantasy football teams, one with friends and one public. I rarely win, but I like to play.

In football you sometimes see the end run, where an offensive team member tries to run around the defensive line, and bypass the defenders waiting to bring him down. The path of least resistance is not ahead, but around the obstacles. While the offensive and defensive lines are tied up at the line of scrimmage, the running back skirts around the line and tries to break out into the open for a big gain.

There are times in ministry when you see this play out. Someone has the ball, something they want to move forward, something they want to do. They see that there is blockage ahead, and rather than try to go through that, they attempt to go around the line. Sometimes this is literally done by going to another person who has authority, or just going ahead and doing it without asking permission. You see the normal path to get it done, but rather than deal with any opposition, you find an alternate route.

Depending on the organization, this can be very successful. You can accomplish your immediate goal.

But even if it works, in the long run it is harmful to ministry organizations.

The problem is that the “end run” by definition assumes that you are pitted against the “opposition”. In fact, in ministry, we are on the same team. If there is opposition to an idea or move or event there may be something else involved you are not aware of. By doing an end run, you may get your way but it may have negative effects on the overall ministry goals of the organization. And you will likely cause harm to any relationship involved. You may push your agenda ahead 10 yards, but you will do it be knocking down the people you should be working with.

No one likes it when people go over their head, or go around them to get something done. I like to think I am a reasonable guy, and my job is to help ministries accomplish their goals. If I can do something, I will. If I can’t there is a really good reason for it. If there is a policy in place, it’s there for a reason. If I can do it, I will, as long as it doesn’t hurt the overall ministry goals of the organization.

If someone does an end run, it is very disrespectful of the person or team who were bypassed. It says that your immediate goals are more important to you than relationships in the organization or the overall ministry goals of the organization. While you may get your way now, there will be a cost later.

If you are a team player, the “end run” should never be something you run against your fellow team mates. Work together to accomplish your goals. One player may get a first down, but a first down doesn’t win the game. It takes touchdowns to win. And that takes a team of people.

The Difference in Days

Yesterday started off wrong. I forgot my laptop power cord at home, and discovered that my battery now has a maximum of 35 minutes of charge. Of course, I have two videos to finish by Sunday, and I use that laptop to edit those videos. That set the day off balance, and it never recovered.

Today, I have the cord, and had a fun time driving in with the kids, listening to music in the car. Just got something I’ve been waiting on. Today looks to be a better feeling day.

In reality, yesterday didn’t have insurmountable issues. The issues were just tainted by negative attitude. How we approach problems affects how we solve them. I suspect I will deal with similar problems today. I suspect when I get home I will feel like to day went better. The primary difference will be that I approached today from a different perspective.

Proper Pre-Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Moments before a service. The speaker walks in with handwritten notes. Even though he is speaking in just about 15 minutes, he needs them put into the presentation software, correctly. The tension in the room triples as the tech team goes into overdrive to get it done.

In ninth grade history class, my teacher pounded several easily remembered sayings into my head. One of them was: Proper Pre-Planning Prevents Poor Performance. I have heard this expressed several ways, but the general idea is the same, if you want it to go well then do the work to get ready.

In the world of tech, this is huge. These are the guys that check and recheck everything. They strive for technical excellence. They want it to be right, and to work. Not only do they not want to distract in the service, but they know that one little glitch will undoubtedly tempt someone on the platform to mention it. Which of course, draws more attention to it.

For speakers preparation is critical too. I’ve done just enough public speaking to know that when I am ready, it goes well. When I am not, it doesn’t. But that preparation has to spill over into helping the tech team get your screens right.

I want to help pastors and worship leaders understand that they should not expect the technical people that work with them to do their best if they get handed things to put on the screen at the last minute. Trying to input screens while the music portion of the worship service is going on is extremely stressful, and may lead to missed cues which impact worship. Most technical people want to have time to finish the preparation properly, and then recheck it for spelling and spacing.

It’s a simple thing, but building in enough time properly prepare the screens will help you communicate more effectively.