Securing People’s Investment and Commitment

If you want to be the best, most effective person, church, ministry, or organization around, you must become the Investor of Choice. Many choices are available to the community around you. People will invest only in what they believe to be strong, proficient, and profitable from their vantage point. That includes selecting friends and relationships.

In 1985 the Zastava Koral was introduced into the subcompact Auto market of America. With a top speed of 88 miles per hour and other import drawbacks the auto life cycle in the U.S. was short-lived. Due to political unrest and the outbreak of civil war in its home country of Yugoslavia, the company’s export business was doomed as parts suppliers were cut off and manufacturing difficulties escalated. People in the U.S. (and other ports abroad) were ordering these cars, sold in the U.S. as the Yugo. But the cars were coming in mix-matched; some with bucket seats of two different colors, or a blue dash panel with a brown steering wheel and other mismatched parts.

The Yugo proved also to be unreliable for many owners and parts were scarce and difficult to receive. The short-lived Yugo died a very humiliating death – in the export markets. Consumers were not going to invest in a vehicle that was so unreliable and riddled with troubles. People will invest time, talent, and treasure where they see value.

To be an investor of choice means to provide a service or product of value to the people you are trying to reach. Too often we slip into the perception that what we have is of great value. Yet, what we are portraying to others does not impart that same level of value. In order to produce value, we must first value what we have. In the church, we must value the people in our midst and the people outside that we have not reached yet. For people outside the church to see value in the church, they must perceive the value placed on our current members.

When value is given to current members (and attendees) they will more likely value the vision of the church. This will always bring about a greater effectiveness to the mission of the organization of the church. What commitment will you make to become an Investor of Choice? People invest in what they value. Don’t create a Yugo. Value your people, they will value the vision of the organization.

 George Yates is a Church Health Strategist and coach partnering with pastors, churches, individuals, and organizations, assisting patrons in becoming effective in fulfilling their God-given purpose.

 

Character and Integrity

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded as the Mutual Life Insurance Company of the State of Wisconsin on March 2, 1857. Originally located in Janesville, Wisconsin, the fledgling company relocated to Milwaukee in 1859. Shortly after this move, the company experienced its first two death claims, when an excursion train traveling from Janesville to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin derailed, killing 14 people. Two of the deceased were policy owners with Mutual. Together the life insurance claims for these two totaled $3,500. In today’s funds this would likely be close to $1,300,000. Having company funds of only $2,000, Mutual’s President, Samuel Daggett and Treasurer, Charles Nash found themselves in a predicament.

Northwestern had several options. First, they could’ve not paid out the claims, alleging some sort of technical reason. The two officers could have dissolved the company, waited a year and opened under a new name. Third, they could pay out the $2,000 in their bank account, giving the family of each victim $1,000. Certainly, no one would hold any blame against them for giving all they had.

But the two men, Daggett and Nash, did something far greater. They each acquired loans against their personal assets (homes) to meet the needed funds to pay the claims immediately. To Daggett and Nash this was a matter of character and integrity. Paying a portion of the policy was the best of the aforementioned choices. But for these two men, it was not an option. The full cash values of the policies had to be paid. Nothing less.

Integrity is the greatest asset to your character. If you want to be known as a person of high quality character, integrity is a necessity. Talking integrity is not enough. It is like saying you have money in the bank, when your bank account is actually empty. Feeling as though you have integrity is similar to running up a credit card account when you know you do not have funds pay it off. Action is the only means to build and prove integrity. You can talk about and feel as though you have integrity all your life. But people know the depth of your integrity by the actions you make every day.

What are your actions proving about your integrity?

 George Yates is a Church Health Strategist and coach assisting churches pastors, organizations, and individuals to reach for their God-given potential.

 

Success Vs Less,

I am not advocating the following for how to get wealthy. But, similar statistics are true for successful people versus unsuccessful. In fact, I believe they are more true for the rate of success than amount of wealth. The following statistics are from Tom Corley’s website, RichHabits.net. As you read these statistics, I encourage you to read them replacing the word wealthy with successful and poor with less successful. (I have rewritten the first one to demonstrate)

80% of the wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

80% of the successful are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the less successful do this.

63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.

81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor.

86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% for poor.

86% of wealthy believe in life-long educational self-improvement vs. 5% for poor.

74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor.

6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor.

88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor.

There are many more of these statistics on Mr. Corley’s website. And I think it is plain to see the correlation with these few. It is no accident that those who practice these habits are more prosperous than people who do not practice them. Would you pick out three of these and commit to change your habits in these three areas? Work on these three daily for 30 days, then add one or two more to your repertoire.

I cannot guarantee you monetary wealth. But I can guarantee you success in your life, attitude, and character. Happy Habiting!

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist assisting pastors, churches, organizations, and individuals in becoming more effective and purpose-filled in all areas of life.

400 Years – Are You Kidding?

It is believed that the Hawaiian islands were discovered before AD 1000 – no one knows the exact date – by a group of seafaring Polynesians who inhabited and explored many of the islands in the South Pacific.

Looking at a map, Hawaii is one of the most isolated spots on the planet.  It’s pretty impressive that it was discovered so long before modern technology.

But what these explorers did to get there makes the story one of the most amazing I’ve ever heard. Because of its isolation, there is no way they would ever have known Hawaii existed. Though they were perceptive. The story is told they noticed a bird called the Golden Plover which migrated north out into the open water every year.  These birds were flying somewhere. Land must have been out there, the Polynesians just couldn’t see it.

So they set sail from the Marquesas to follow the birds.  That island is as close as you can get to Hawaii, but it’s still about 2500 miles away.  Using modern day equipment it takes roughly 30 days to sail to Hawaii from Marquesas. Back then, they were only using carved wooden boats and the stars and sun for navigation.

The Polynesians followed the birds closely, but the birds always flew faster than the islanders could row their dugout boats.  They could only keep up with the birds for short distances. At some point each year, they would lose track and have to turn back.

Each year they would try again, picking up where they left off the previous year.  Years passed by and they kept getting farther into the Pacific.  But still they never saw land.

According to one documentary, it took the Polynesians 400 years to finally reach Hawaii using this method.

400 years! As far as I know there is no written record to verify this is factual, but most historians do validate the Polynesians from Marquesas as being the first to “discover” the islands now known as Hawaii. 2500 miles in uncharted waters requires perseverance whether they discovered these new islands in one year or 400. How soon we often are ready to throw in the towel. Ready to give up on our quest, even when we sense our quest to be God-given.

We are only given 70-80 years on this earth. Our quest should be to daily persevere the waters of life and seek God’s direction. When you stand before God at the end of this life, will He recognize you as one like a Marquesas islander or one who turned around in the rough sea and settled for status quo?

George Yates is a church health strategist and coach assisting pastors, churches, and individuals in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.

 

This Man had Perseverance

Milton had a long path to the top of his industry. He dropped out of school in the 4th grade and took an apprenticeship with a printer, only to be fired. At age 14 he became an apprentice to a candy-maker in Lancaster, PA. After studying the business for 4 years, Milton moved to Philadelphia and started his first of three unsuccessful candy companies in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York.

Following his Philadelphia venture Milton traveled to Denver, Colorado, and other places working for confectioners including caramel makers. Looking for business opportunities in New Orleans and Chicago, he landed in New York, opening his next candy making business. It only lasted three years.

Not about to give up, Milton moved back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and began the Lancaster Caramel Company. His unique caramel recipe, which he had come across during his earlier travels, was a huge success. After several years of great success, Milton, who was always looking ahead, believed that chocolate products had a much greater future than caramel. He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for $1 million in 1900 (approximately $25 million in today’s currency) and started a new company using his last name. The Hershey Company, which brought milk chocolate — previously a Swiss delicacy — to the masses.

Not only did Milton Hershey persevere to overcome failure and accomplish his goals, but he also managed to do it close to home. Hershey created hundreds of jobs for Pennsylvanians. He also used his money to build houses, churches, and schools, cementing his status as a legend in the Keystone State. To read of all the good deeds and philanthropy he did is truly humbling and inspiring at the same time. It has been recorded of Milton Hershey that he put the quality of his product and the well-being of his employees ahead of profits.

Perseverance and commitment to achievement can belong to anyone. Unfortunately, it is easier to give up or not get back up when knocked down. And many stay down. Entrepreneurs like Milton Hershey should be an inspiration to each of us. God has given you gifts and talents to use in fulfilling a God-given purpose. You may never make $1 million in caramel candy sales, or amass the world’s largest chocolate empire. But you can make a difference in your own little corner of the world. I know, because God created you this way.

Persevere, get back up, and take off running again toward your goals and your God-given purpose.

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist assisting churches, pastors, organizations, and individuals to effectively fulfill their life purpose.

The Influence of Our Actions

I noticed for years, when mashing potatoes, my wife first drains the cooked potatoes, adds a little margarine and milk. Then she takes an electric mixer – turned off – and works the beaters up and down in the freshly cooked potatoes. She continues this all around the pan, breaking up the potato pieces before turning the mixer on. Early on I inquired about why she does this before of turning the mixer on. She’s never really had an answer other than it was the way her mother mashed potatoes.

I have, in recent years, seen my Mother-in-Law and one brother-in-law prepare potatoes the exact same way. Why is still in question, but the where is likely from my wife’s maternal grandmother. It is a learned behavior.

Learned behaviors are those ideas, actions, and obsessions we pick up from watching someone we trust or ascertain from. The behavioral traits of leaders are adopted and accepted by those among us with whom we have influence. We not only lead by our actions. We teach and equip others to repeat our actions. Many aspects of leadership are caught, more than they are taught.

Every person is in leadership. Every person is influential in someone’s life. You have influence in the lives of others. Someone is watching you and being influenced by your actions every day, throughout the day.

The Bible in 1 Chronicles 29:1, 5b-9, 17b gives us a great example of positive influence in action.

“Then the rulers of the fathers’ households (heads of the twelve tribes), and the princes of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the kings work, offered willingly… And whoever possessed precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord.”

Notice the chain of leadership. First the King gave, then stepping down through the chain of leadership, each gave, and they gave willingly. No one was forced to give. Each gave voluntarily because of what was modeled by those in leadership.

When it was obvious that the leaders gave willingly, everyone under their influence also gave willingly. People will give, not only of their possessions, but of their time, talents, and giftings as they see those in positions of influence give as heartily.

Commanding someone to do something may produce lackluster results. But modeling good work ethics will always produce greater results and change behaviors.

Remember, giving is of the heart. Every day your actions are influencing others. By the way, my wife, Mother-in-Law, and brother-in-law all make great mashed potatoes. They were influenced well!

 

To learn more about influence and leadership, contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist and coach assisting pastors, churches, organizations, and individuals to reach the summit of their God-given potential.

Guest Post: Reaching the Summit

Encouraging, challenging, insightful and practical are words to describe the work George Yates has accomplished with his book Reaching the Summit. The subtitle of the book is “Avoiding and Reversing the Decline in the Church.” He methodically works through the five phases of decline: “Loss of Vision,” “Lack of Purpose,” “Denial of Reality,” “Grasping for Survival” and “Relinquishment of Ministry.”

Then he begins the process in section two of identifying the principles and strategies for “Reversing and Avoiding Decline.”

So much of what you read in his text is common sense to the observer but difficult for the practitioner. Using subtle humor and clear illustrations throughout helps the reader connect with the truths page after page.

The book is peppered with one-liners like:

  • “Where there is no vision, the people will leave your parish.”
  • “To reverse decline in a church or similar organization, you sometimes have to recognize the dead horses (ministries inside the church), dismount and find a new mount (a new ministry meeting the needs of the community).”
  • “A person with passion will far outwork an experienced person with no passion every day of the week.”
  • “Do not copy models. Capture principles.”
  • “Without action your vision becomes only a dream.”

Included as practical tools in the appendices is a tool for “Evaluating Ministries,” a tool for “Choosing a Consultant or a Coach” (with definitions of each), and a tool for “Building an Intentional Strategy for Small Open Bible Study Groups” (Flake’s Formula).

The author communicates in a clear and concise manner, always encouraging the reader to go further in being faithful to the calling God has placed on the ministries as well as their leaders. He challenges all readers to have a “vigorous face-to-face summit with reality” (a completely open and honest assessment personally and corporately).

I recommend this book to any who are seeking to move their organization from where they are to where God wants them to be. He has targeted the church with his text, but the truths are applicable to other types of ministries. A great read and a great tool!

Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church, by George Yates (Belleville, Ontario, Canada: Essence Publishing, 2012), 144 pages.

This week’s post is a guest post written by Rick Barnhart. Rick serves as the Office Director for Associational Missions and Church Planting with the Alabama State Board of Missions.

Contact George Yates at http://soncare.net

Outside the Box or Lateral Thinking

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them.

“I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Some would call Jesus’ illustration in this passage, out of the box thinking. I refer to it as lateral thinking. No one in the crowd was thinking of children or of being childlike as being the greatest of anything. The question was, “Who is the greatest in heaven?” Most thoughts would have been on being good, doing the righteous deeds, obeying Jewish law. The people around Jesus on this day would have been thinking surely one or all three of these will be included in Jesus’ answer.

Instead, Jesus calls a child over and has the child stand in the midst of the group. Then He said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Notice, He doesn’t address who is the greatest. He is saying, your thinking is all wrong. You are not focused on what the kingdom is about. It appears His questioners were concerned about social status in heaven. With this simple and plain metaphoric illustration, Jesus causes each one to abandon their original thinking.

Parents to pastors to CEOs can use lateral thinking. We all lead in some capacity. Learning to practice lateral thinking and deploying lateral thinking to those whom we lead is of great value and will bring success in family as well as business and ministry.

Lateral thinking requires metaphorically using a similar pattern of thought to convey one’s message. More than a simple metaphor, lateral thinking requires each listener to engage the higher order thought processes of the mind. This engagement will configure the illustration (metaphor) to the subject at hand.

Placing this child center stage and making His statement, Jesus literally obliterated the normal thinking of His day. In His day and culture, women, much less children, were not considered in levels of greatness or leadership. Until this very moment, this was not a conceivable concept. Yet, because this master teacher, Jesus, so simplistically laid it out, the mind of every person present began to construct the concept, what it meant, and what the kingdom of God looked like.

Jesus did not say you must become children. He said, unless you change and become like children. Like is the key word upon which the thinking now shifts. What is a child like? How are they different than adults? What about a child would gain him entrance to heaven and not me? Every person in earshot is now  thinking along these lines.

This brilliant use of lateral thinking by Jesus not only changed their thinking processes, it would have brought humility to those who thought through the idea. Once you realize the needed change Jesus is referring to, humility would certainly come into play realizing as adults we have abandoned the practices of children to which Jesus is referring.

Learning to use lateral thinking to create a new, more operative mindset, will always lead to more effective productivity and a growing disciple. Thinking outside the box is good. Taking it a step further to using lateral thinking will build stronger, growing disciples.

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist assisting churches, organizations, Pastors and individuals to reach their full God-given potential.

Metaphor = a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or idea used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.

We Need More Stick To It!

There are no overnight successes, with fruit trees, or in ministry.

In reading several articles this past weekend, I came across a statement that I find so prevalent for ministry today. Why is it that so many ministry leaders have such a difficult time staying on course? Perhaps it is the very reason the majority of churches in North America are plateaued and declining. Is it the excitement and intrigue of finding the next best thing, the latest, greatest ministry concept or program? Perhaps it is boredom with what we’ve been trying for the past six months. Or, could it be that we have a generation of ADHD ministry leaders?

There is a lot of good processes and resources available for ministry today. Granted, there are some not so good as well – at least not for every situation. A program or ministry that worked well in one location, may not be right for another church in a different setting. The programs and processes used to reach people living in the inner city may not be as effective in rural or suburban America. When we learn of something that “worked” for another church, we need not try to copy it. A copy is never as good as the original. Instead, we need to capture the principle. Principles cross all timelines, cultural, and racial barriers. Bring the principles of success to your ministry. Then apply those principles to your ministry endeavors. Do not copy models, capture principles. This is where true success is found, Godly, biblical principles.

While I truly believe the effectiveness of any church has as its foundation these Godly, biblical based principles, this is not the key to which I am driven to write about today. The sentence I read which produced my thought process and spurring of writing this post is; “All of the senior leaders must stay involved.” This is so vital for church leaders. And yet it is lacking in so many of our churches. Even when we find a “good thing” and begin to work it, it is not long before we are ready to move on to something newer, bigger, promising better results. As church leaders we need a better stick to it mentality.

I planted two apple trees on my property several years ago. I did not expect to reap a harvest the first few years. But that did not stop me from watering, spraying, pruning, and fertilizing those trees. Three years went by, four, then five. Those trees are now producing fruit. But it took time and patience. If I had treated those trees like we treat ministry processes in the church, I would have cut them down after the first year and planted peach trees expecting peaches in one year.

There are no overnight successes, with fruit trees, or in ministry. The leadership of the church must prayerfully decide which processes to pursue. Then like the fruit trees, we must patiently care for and nurture those processes, even when we see no fruit in sight. It takes three to five years for a fruit tree to bear fruit (some longer). It also takes three to five years to change the culture of a church or other organization (sometimes longer). When you start something and you have not given it three to five years before moving on to try some newer, “better” idea, your biggest accomplishment is informing your members that we do not stick to anything around here.

Capture the principles, find the right process for your ministry environment. Then stick with it. When you tire of it, thinking you’ve seen read, and heard it enough, your people are just getting it. Press on. Stay the course and stay involved.

George Yates is a church health strategist assisting churches, leaders, and individuals across North America in understanding and fulfilling their God-given purpose.

Doing the Right Thing

Matthew 8:1-4

When He came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. Right away a man with a serious skin disease came up and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his disease was healed. Then Jesus told him, “See that you don’t tell anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed, as a testimony to them.”

Jesus was willing to touch the leper, an untouchable. Not only touch him, Jesus healed this man of his skin disease, because it was the right thing to do. Leprosy was a disease that would literally rot away the skin of a person. In Jesus day it was believed to be highly contagious. Lepers were not allowed to live or travel in “normal” healthy civilization. Those infected formed leper colonies and lived in communal groups within a mile or two of larger cities. A leper was forbidden to come within a certain safe distance from persons without this dreaded skin disease. Lepers were outcasts from society.

For a healthy member of society to even rub against the hem of a leper’s garment made the healthy unclean. Any unclean person then had to be subjected to ostracism for a period of days to insure he had not contracted the disease. For someone to reach out and touch the skin of an infected leper, an untouchable, was inviting banishment and exclusion from the city and society.

Jesus having grown up in Jewish society, knew all of these ramifications. Yet, He never hesitated in reaching out to touch the leper in order to heal him. A true leader is always ready and willing to do what is right (righteous) to get the objective accomplished, even when it goes against conventional practices.

Are you practicing like Jesus, willing to go against conventional thought to do the right thing? Or do you live in safety, not wanting someone to think ill of you? We talk a good game, and maybe act from a distance, making a donation, saying a prayer. Yet our actions seldom have us touching the untouchables.

What situations in your life – at work, home, church, sports – do you need to adjust your actions to do the right thing, regardless of what others think or say? Are you willing to touch the untouchable?

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist, assisting churches, Pastors, and individuals to reach for their full God-given potential.