3 Steps to Teach Your Skill Set

Yesterday was the day. Time for my 13 year-old son, Kaleb, to ride the London tube by himself for the first time. He’s been riding the bus (a double-decker red London bus – not a yellow school bus!) to school by himself for two years, so he had some experience and was ready to move up to the next level of transport in the city.tube_map

He was invited over to spend time with his good friend, AJ Patel, who lives in Hounslow which is about 9 miles from our house in Shepherd’s Bush. Normally not a bad 30 minute drive but on Friday afternoon before Christmas, I was not in the mood to fight the traffic. Time for Kaleb to ride the tube.

I taught him how to ride in three simple steps: Instruct, Model and Guide.

Instruct – pass along the relevant information

My first step was to verbally communicate the information Kaleb needed to get from Shepherd’s Bush to Hounslow. Which train to take, where to look for the signs, what door to exit, etc. He need some basic knowledge so we reviewed this before we left home.

Model – show how it is done

To get to Hounslow from Shepherd’s Bush, you have to take two trains – the Hammersmith Shep Bush Mar& City to Hammersmith and then the Picadilly to Hounslow. This provided me the perfect opportunity to model for Kaleb how to ride the tube. Of course, he’s ridden the tube many times before, but this time, he rode with intentionality. I was with him as we checked our Oyster cards, and looked for the correct platform and observed tube etiquette (let people off before you get on, no loud talking, etc.)

Guide – help along the way

Finally, Kaleb was ready to ride the Picadilly line to Hounslow by himself. Thankfully, we both have phones so I was about to guide him along the way. “Remember to get the train headed to Heathrow”, “Text the Patels from Osterly” and “Hounslow West is your stop” where all reminders of what we had already discussed but were now reinforced while in the process of actually riding the tube.

This same pattern should repeat itself in many other areas as we seek to pass along skills to the next generation. Over the years, I’ve seen my father raise up many new bible study leaders again and again. He discusses how to lead a group as he models leadership in the small group. Over time, the leadership is passed on as he steps into the background to guide.

At New City our desire is to raise up new leaders for the next generation.  As part of our strategy, we brought on board a pastoral apprentice, Oong Lee, who joined us in September. Oong is developing as a preacher so we are following these same steps:

Instruct – we’re reading Bryan Chapell’s book “Christ Centered Preaching” together
Model – he’s attending New City with an eye on the preacher
Guide – we go over his sermons before and after to edit and evaluate

If we skip one of these steps, problems may occur.  Crucial mistakes, discouragement, or even a breakdown in the relationship can happen if we are not willing to take the time and effort needed to pass along skills younger people need.

What skills do you have? Are you passing them along to the next generation?

Is it time for you to Instruct, to Model and to Guide?

Quick Book Review: Tribes

Over the years I’ve enjoyed reading various business/leadership books that have helped me in my work with churches, charities and small businesses.  Steve Covey’s “7 Habits”, James Collin’s “Built to Last” and “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes and Posner where early favorites coming out of university.

In the last 10 years, I have been challenged by David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky and both of the Heath brother books – “Switch” and “Made to Stick”.  From a Christian perspective, “Leading with a Limp” by Dan Allender has been the best book on leadership that I’ve read.

Last week I finished “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin.  I had heard about Godin’s other books for several years, but none of them caught my attention.  They just Tribesseemed too focused on marketing for my tastes.  But after receiving an Amazon gift certificate and seeing a positive review from Michael Hyatt, I decided to give Tribes a try.  I’m glad I did.

Here’s a sampling of my highlights:

“Generous and authentic leadership will always defeat the selfish efforts of someone doing it just because she can.”

“Leadership…is about creating change that you believe in.”

“All tribes are made up of partisans, the more partisan the better.  If you’re a middle-of-the-roader, you don’t bother joining a tribe.  Partisans want to make a difference.  Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.”

“True leaders have figured out that the real win is in turning a casual fan into a true one.”

“The organizations of the future are filled with smart, fast, flexible people on a mission.”

“What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism.  We choose not to be remarkable because we’re afraid of criticism.”

“So great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders don’t water down their message in order to make the tribe bigger. Instead, they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be.”

“The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.”

“The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.”

“Growth doesn’t come from persuading the most loyal members of other tribes to join you. They will be the last to come around. Instead, you’ll find more fertile ground among seekers, among people who desire the feeling they get when they’re part of a vibrant, growing tribe, but who are still looking for that feeling.”

“The tactics of leadership are easy. The art is the difficult part.”

It’s a quick read – 125 pages with no chapters so it’s easy to pick up and put down.  If you want to lead change, no matter how small, Seth Godin has written a book which will spark ideas in your mind.

Plus, he’s got a great haircut!Seth-Godin-bald-head-profile

Falling and Failing

In Miami, where I lived for a few childhood years, I remember my first bike.  I hated it.  It was purple with a long “banana seat” – this was the 70’s.  I took a hammer and smashed it with as much power as a 5-year old can muster.  Ripped the seat, tore the spokes out and punctured the tires.

It wasn’t the design that disturbed me – it was the fear of falling. And falling meant failure.  I didn’t even want to try the purple bike with the banana seat.

I liked riding my “Big Wheel” – the plastic tricycle that every 5-year old rode around Miami.  Why would I get on two wheels and run the risk of falling when I could ride safely on three?

Eventually I did give up on my Big Wheel for a bicycle.  Failure to learn to ride a bike became a greater motivation than falling over on the bike.

The reality is that I did fall over sometimes as I was learning to ride.  Failure, which in this case meant falling over, is part of the learning process.  And failure is often the key to progress.

Don’t the fear of falling keep you from trying.  And by trying you might even learn to ride.

The 10 Social Media Commandments

After reading so much negativity these past few weeks on Facebook, I’ve been think about how I should use social media in a responsible way that is honouring to God and encouraging to my “friends”.

Here are some guidelines that I try to follow –  the 10 social media commandments:
1. Don’t post anything about someone (even famous people) that you won’t say in person
2. Don’t write about yourself too much
3. Don’t write about your significant other without his/her opinion
4. Don’t brag on yourself or your kids
5. Don’t talk about how busy you are
6. Don’t complain or whine
7. Promote interesting content
8. Be charitable to those who differ politically from you
9. Consider how much you should post (even if it’s good content!)
10. Think before you post!!!

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