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Stewardship – The Red Line

Red_LineIn this time of financial instability, much has been made about good stewardship when it comes to our money and other resources. What about our most important resource, people?

Money, tools, time… these are all diminishing resources; we always wish that we had more and are constantly trying to figure out how to make best use of what we have; that is the most simple form of good stewardship. What bothers me, especially when it comes to church creatives and media-types, is that very few of them seem to be properly stewarded.

One church that I worked at had an associate pastor who, when he would walk through the creative department, would refer to us as, “the one department that actually has to do things”. While that was a long-running joke with him, at one point it struck me how much truth there was in the statement. It seemed that most of the other staff members came and went with little stress while those of us preparing for the weekend or the next big event were often burning the midnight oil for days on end. I network with a lot of church media producers across the country and found that this is a situation repeated in countless other churches as well. We are constantly at the red line.

red line; noun – a safety limit, as marked on a gauge.

Do you live on 100% of your income? If you have any amount of wisdom at all, you know that you are much better off staying shy of the red line and living on about 80% of what you earn. That way, you will have some margin for emergencies and to be generous.

If you look at the RPM gauge in your car, it shows you a red line that indicates the point at which, if pushed, you will put your engine (and your life for that matter) in danger. No one in their right mind ever pushes their vehicle to that point, unless you’re in a Bruce Willis movie.

Why should our best resource, our people, be any different?

What is the actual capacity of your team? I believe that one of a leader’s greatest tasks is to constantly evaluate the full capacity of his or her team and then pull back some. Have a frank conversation with your people and make a genuine determination on what that red line looks like for the current team and stay on the healthy side of it. This way, much like money, we maintain some margin for the big dates and busy times. A leader should have a true finger on the pulse of what the team is doing at any given time and be able to step in and change the speed in order to maintain the general health of the group and its individuals.

Anything, or anyone, constantly pushed to the limit will break down. And the saddest part is when we act naive and surprised when it happens.

After many years in ministry work I’m well aware of the busy seasons; they are what they are and will always be. The problem that I have is knowing so many incredibly gifted and talented people who used to work at churches, but have now moved on to other things because no one took the time to properly steward their people and they burned out.

I know that this post might not win me any popularity points with a lot of Church leadership, but I feel like something needs to be said. If you think that I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, check with the HR department of a church trying to hire a video producer or graphic artist; they are likely having a hard time finding someone to take the job.

For me, it comes down to one question; do you want the best church media (video, graphics, website)? Keep your team on ‘this side’ of the red line and you’ll get it.

Vroom-vroom.

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