If your only tool is a hammer, all problems are a nail
I am advocate for a good tool belt. Good. Not perfect.
In the last decade I have become far more competent at household repairs than I was before that. YouTube has been invaluable in this. Where before I would enter a new task with trepidation combined with a lack of knowledge, I can now only deal with my own trepidation. My knowledge is much higher.
In effect, I am increasing the number of tools, and skills, associated with my tool belt.
My tool belt is become closer to good. It will never be perfect. There will be times when what is needed to repair things in my home exceed my skills, my tools, and truth be known, my interest factor. Some of these things I am just not interested in. I am sure some of my pastor colleagues are just not interested in increasing their knowledge in numbers because their interest factor is so low.
For now, I want to focus on the number of tools in our tool belt, and less about analysis of numbers as a wrench, screwdriver, or hammer.
When I was introduced to the leadership at Hilltop United Methodist in 2012, one of the questions I was asked was focused on me as if I were the sole leader responsible for transformation. I attempted to turn the conversation around to leadership as a cooperative, and communitarian, adventure. One of the tools in my perceived tool belt is leadership development. Jesus developed twelve and that development changed our world.
In that same conversation, I was asked what I had learned in Colorado Springs that would work in Salt Lake. My answer was while some solutions might transport, I expected issues at Hilltop were different than in Colorado Springs, and we needed to be adaptive in our leadership, rather than technical. One of the tools in my perceived tool belt is adaptive leadership. Jesus displays his adaptive ability on multiple occasions, often in his use of parables and storytelling as a way of teaching and leading.
Clarity on purpose is another tool for that tool belt. Our focus in the military focused on mission, and clarity from leadership as to what was important and what was less important in our missional focus. One of the tools in my perceived tool belt is a laser focus on our purpose, our why, our mission. Jesus missional focus was on Calvary and the Empty Tomb.
The ability to absorb criticism is a critical tool. It doesn’t mean that you don’t let criticism bother you. All of us want to be liked and respected. And you can get too far in front of those you are leading. You must stay in contact with them, while, I believe, leading from the front. I once asked a key leader why I was getting a particular task and he said “you don’t let other people bother you” and I replied, “Another person I have fooled.” The truth of course is that like all of us, I want the respect and admiration of others, but there is a time for our skins to be a little thicker than it often is. A United Methodist District Superintendent once told me my leadership task at my church was as pastor to lead my sheep to faithfulness. Easy to say: hard to accomplish. A tool in my perceived tool belt is a thicker skin. Notice I said skin, not a coat of armor. Do I need to offer any specific Jesus example of a thicker skin at times?
Other examples exist of tools and skills. That is just four.
I like the ancient English word: compleat. It suggests finality, and the reality is that I have discovered that in reality, the more I know, the more I know I don’t know. So when I think back to this tool belt image, it isn’t a compleat tool belt, it is a more compleat tool belt. Closer to finality, and perfection but still a mirror that gives me an incomplete view of the world around me. Better but not perfect.
My hope in my blogs is that elements of this completeness in creating and managing our leadership tool belt will emerge.
A more compleat tool belt. With more tools than a hammer.