Category Archives: Strengths

First Impressions

First impressions

Ushers and greeters are your church’s first impression.

I’m sure you have all heard the saying that you only get one chance to make a first impression. It is true in your personal life, and it is true in your church.   An area of serving that is often overlooked in churches is that of Usher.  Not everyone can be an usher. Just as not everyone can be a worship leader, work in child care, repair the building, or preach the sermon. We each have our unique God given gifts, and that includes people who are wired to be good ushers. I love how well Dan Reiland outlines the importance and “how to’s” of the usher ministry in the article below.

“Your Usher Ministry”

by Dan Reiland

One of my favorite ministries to lead is the usher team. Their role is so important, but often undervalued, undertrained, and less than organized.

The ushers are a huge force in setting the tone for worship and helping to prepare the people to hear and respond to the Word of God.

I’m pulling a portion of the training notes for our usher team and adapting for this article. If you would like the full usher training manual (free) CLICK HERE!

An usher is a spiritual ambassador for the local church – God’s ordained and organized body of believers. The usher serves as a “first representative” of Jesus Christ for a worship service. Though we thoroughly enjoy the creative edge of our worship services, make no mistake, this is a holy event where God is meeting with His people.

From the tabernacle in the Old Testament to the temple and synagogue in the New Testament, God’s presence and the teaching of His word is of supreme importance.

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Mark 1:21-22

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. John 8:2

Who Can Serve as an Usher?

Not just anyone can be an usher. In the same way that not just anyone can sing in the choir, work in children’s ministry or lead a small group. The right gifts, passion, and ability make a big difference.

As you recruit new ushers keep spiritual qualities, characteristics and usher responsibilities in mind. Please make sure you work in coordination with your section leader or a service leader rather than practicing “random recruiting.”

The fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 is a solid guideline for a good usher. This is not about perfection, but a heartfelt motive and desire to live a life of a spirit-filled believer.

Qualifications of an Usher

• You understand the vital role of the usher ministry.

• You enjoy and care about people.

• You possess a servant heart.

• You are committed to the vision of “your church name.”

• You are supportive of the leadership at “your church name.”

Responsibilities of an Usher

1. Committed leadership

• Prepare yourself spiritually.

A good usher comes prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is not to be seen as a duty, but a privilege to connect with God as part of your preparation. Don’t feel like this requires an hour of Bible study before you show up. God is far more interested in the commitment of your heart than the amount of your time. Take a few moments at home to connect with God and ask Him to use you as a representative of His love and an agent of His redemptive plan.

• Take initiative!

This is huge. The cardinal sin of an usher is to not pay attention. At all times watch what is going on in your section and jump in to handle it. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your section leader. The only wrong choice is to do nothing. Never assume “someone” else is taking care of the need. Pay attention, take initiative, and make it happen!!

• Absorb the pressure of the moment, don’t transfer it.

Most of the ministry of an usher is pure joy. Seriously, it’s a lot of fun. But on occasion there are moments of pressure when someone is upset or something isn’t working right. In these moments never transfer the pressure to the person entering into their worship experience. You are the leader. You absorb the pressure. Get help if you need it, but never make the issue their problem. You help deliver a solution.

• Own your section, lead your section, shepherd your section.

This is exciting. In an average environment with average ushers, once the seats are filled the ushers relax and mentally check out. As a leader you are empowered to take ownership of the area of seats you serve in and give leadership where needed. Think of your area like you are responsible to do everything in your power to ensure that all those people have the best opportunity possible to connect with and hear from God. You can shepherd the people by getting to know them, praying for them, learning their names, and meeting appropriate needs.

• Follow the direction of your head usher.

All good leaders are good followers. It is important that you follow the leadership of the person responsible to lead you. Be supportive and encouraging. Offer suggestions if you have good ideas, but don’t be overly sensitive if your ideas aren’t used. Your head usher will do his or her best to serve and lead you and the rest of their team well.

2. Core tasks

In each of these areas you will receive practical hands-on training.

• Help people find a seat.

This seems obvious, but there is an art to it. The art is all about making people, especially new people and people far from God, feel comfortable. Their insecurities can rise and their feelings of self-consciousness prevent them from connecting with God.

Imagine what it feels like to walk into an unfamiliar restaurant or other environment and not know what to do. Do I seat myself or do I wait to be seated? Who do I talk to if I have a question? Who do I tell if I have special circumstances? (e.g. potential medical condition)

Your job is to move toward and engage people quickly and with confidence to help them know what to do. Don’t leave people hanging. Let them know that you can handle anything they need, and that you are the one that can make this a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Don’t make them come to you and ask. You approach them with confidence and a smile. Take charge with grace and poise.

• Collect the offering.

On a divine level, the offering is part of worship. It is the opportunity for worshippers to express their love, trust and obedience toward God. On a practical level, the financial needs of a large church are significant. Your smooth and coordinated execution of an offering can and does impact the resources that fund the Kingdom. On a security level, this is one of the most detailed functions of an usher.

You will be trained in the actual physical process for receiving an offering in a live session.

You will receive detailed training that will help us ensure compliance with legal guidelines and practical security issues.

• Assist in the execution of special moments.

Many churches are known for creativity in their worship services. From motorcycles to doughnuts, to tractors and bottles of coke, you just never know what may be coming down the aisles! Some of the special moments are fun, some are crazy, and some are deeply spiritual. Things like crossing a bridge, writing in journals, or taking communion. The service of an usher is crucial to these moments being leveraged toward life-change.

We are depending on your flexibility. Don’t get flustered when last minute changes are made. That will happen. Just keep positive, stay flexible and know that creativity is at work “making the magic” that makes all the difference.

• Get an accurate people count.

Why does this matter so much? Why must these numbers be so accurate? Why can’t we just make a good estimate? The answer is that every number represents a person. We want to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us and therefore it matters that we know how well we are reaching people. Just like in the book of Acts, they counted, recorded, and celebrated how many people were saved . . . we count too!

• Re-set and clean up the auditorium.

People will leave papers, cups and “stuff”. The glamorous part of an usher’s ministry is cleaning up after each service. In addition, supplies such as Bibles and pens are replenished.

Remember, many hands make light work. If all ushers jump in and help, it takes about 10 minutes.

3. Common sense

• Maintain proper appearance and personal hygiene.

• Show up on time.

o Section leaders 40 minutes before the service. o Ushers 30 minutes before the service.

• Read the bulletin – get informed, stay informed.

• Wear your name tag.

• You are not required to usher every Sunday, but when you are on the schedule, give it 100%.

• If you are on the schedule and can’t make it, it is imperative that you call your section leader.

• Smile, talk to people, and learn their names!!

Yes, there’s more, and as mentioned, you can have the complete training booklet – CLICK HERE!

Happy Ushering!!


Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  – 1 Corinthians 12:20-25

My New book…HandShake

Handshake

Let your handshake reflect confidence

I am currently in the finishing stages for a new book titled Handshake: What the Great do that Others Don’t. As I stated, we are in the finishing stages, and plan to have the book completed early in January 2011. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing excerpts with you from the book, and I would love your feedback.

The book highlights different characteristics or choices associated with “the great” by examining the biographies of various highly successful people. Today’s excerpt is a glance into Chapter One and the reason why the book is titled Handshake. I sincerely look forward to your comments.

… After a few months of working with Brown’s Janitorial, my boss asked if I would be willing to work on a Saturday morning.  Needing the extra money, I said yes.  I met my boss at his home, and together we got in his truck and began to drive to a different location.  I had no idea where we were going until we pulled up to this large home and I asked him, “What are we doing here?”  He responded “This is Frank Colapinto’s house, and he hired us to help him move some items out of his garage today.”   Up to this point I hadn’t been thrilled about working on a Saturday, but knowing I was about to meet Frank Colapinto made it all worth it.

We got out of the truck, and Mr. Colapinto greeted us at the front of the garage.  He shook the hand of my boss and then looked to me.  He stuck out his hand, and I quickly responded by putting my hand out to greet him as well.  As we proceeded with the handshake he looked at me and said, “Frank Colapinto.”  I had never had anyone greet me by saying their first and last name, and I also have never heard anyone say their name with such confidence, self assurance and pride.  It was just a “Handshake” but it changed my life forever.

He showed us a few things that he wanted done and then he left to run some errands.  The man I had admired from a distance said only two words to me but I will never forget them.  Not necessarily what he said, but how he said it.  A few hours later, after we were done with the work, I remember driving in the truck and thinking to myself, “could this be it…could this be the reason for his success?”  Could it be that the only thing that separated Frank Colapinto from many others was confidence?  Can something that small make that big of a difference?  It was the only conclusion I could come up with, so I did it.  I decided right then that from now on, when people asked me my name or I was introducing myself to someone I would say with confidence, “Chris Sonksen.”

For some strange reason that handshake made me believe that greatness was possible for anyone who wanted it.  That it wasn’t reserved for the elite or the upper class, but that what separated the great from everyone else wasn’t necessarily talent or skill, but it was choice.  For Frank Colapinto it was the choice of confidence that he displayed and a belief in himself.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”

Peter T. Mcintyre quotes

When it’s scary… don’t look down.

staying on Higher ground

Those on Higher Ground will make courageous decisions

Excerpt from: In search of Higher Ground

There are many lessons to be learned from individuals throughout history who have displayed great Courage. From the forefathers who founded this country as, “One nation under God,” they had Courage. To the many men and women in the armed forces who have given their lives for their country, they have had Courage. For the Firefighters and Police Officers who have given their lives to protect and serve others, they have had Courage. For entrepreneurs, dreamers, and  inventors who have shaped  our country’s free enterprise, they have had Courage. For the great leaders our nation has and have had in the past, they have had Courage.

Courage is a great thing! For anyone who has a personal Higher Ground, courage is not an option, it is a must. Whatever mountain you are climbing, whatever dream you are dreaming, Courage must be something that is placed in your backpack as you journey up to this place we have called Higher Ground. Courage is what causes you to blast through the obstacles and opposition you will face. Courage keeps you going when nothing else will. It is the antidote to your fear and the prescription to your insecurities. Your success in life will be marked by the amount of Courage you have. Without Courage this country does not have freedom. Without Courage this nation does not have peace. Without Courage, electricity would not have been discovered, cars would not be driven, and airplanes would be a word that would only be foreign to you and me. Without Courage television would not have been made, Disneyland would have never existed, companies would have never began, and a man would have never walked on the moon. Courage built our country and it will build your dreams and help you reach Higher Ground.

In my own life, Courage is what has kept me going when facing different obstacles and pressures. Many times fear grips my heart and uncertainty of the future causes me to doubt, but it is Courage that keeps me going. Courage at the very core is always the same. What I mean is that it does not matter who you are or what dream you are attempting to live out, there is a kind of Courage that is necessary for everyone. The kind of Courage I am speaking about is the same kind necessary to be the President of the United States in times of crisis. The same kind of Courage that an owner of a company must have when facing difficulty. The same kind of Courage necessary for you to reach your highest potential or for you to make a dream a reality. Let me break it down for you and show you how Courage is lived out for someone like you who is seeking Higher Ground.

As I have mentioned before, the church where I Pastor is in the middle of a building project. Anyone who has been part of any building project knows that there are several challenges that are faced each day. One of the greatest challenges is finances. A great deal of money is necessary to buy the land and to build. A church is a non-profit organization so raising funds can become very difficult. Finding lenders who will finance your project can become extremely difficult.

There have been many times that we have continued our journey even though we could not see the road in front of us. Hiring architects and engineers before we owned the land, because we knew that for various reasons we needed to move quickly. Moving forward with our permit process without having all the financing in place. The list goes on and on of various times in which the road was unclear, but we needed to move forward. That’s where Courage comes in. Courage to move forward even when things are a little unclear. Most people make the mistake of waiting until there is no risk involved before they proceed. They create the largest safety net possible and wait for all questions to be answered before continuing their journey up the mountain. I agree with President Lincoln when he said, “Good things come to those who wait, but only what’s left over by those who hustle.”

Every great leader, dreamer, inventor, founder or Higher Ground seeker has to have the courage to make the tough decisions. Sometimes we are blessed with the luxury of waiting, contemplating, and seeking advice. Other times the decision must be made immediately and you have to have the courage to make it. That is not an easy thing to do, because no one wants to be wrong. However, the reality in decision making is part of the process for anyone who is on the road to Higher Ground. It has been recorded that former President Eisenhower nearly blew it on D-Day because of his fear to make a tough decision immediately. Before his decision to react he was quoted as saying, “No matter what the weather looks like, we have to go ahead now. Waiting any longer could be even more dangerous. So let’s move it!” He proved himself a great leader when he made the toughest decision in his military career and he made it quickly.

Throughout my life there have been tough decisions that had to be made. Sometimes I was right but often I have been wrong. That’s part of decision making, you gather the information you can, seek the advice that’s available, and you make the decision with courage. I have found that the right decision can become wrong when it is made too late.

Edmund C. Lynch, the founding partner of Merrill Lynch, said, “If I made a decision fast, I was right 60% of the time. If I made a decision carefully, I’d be right 70% of the time, but it was always worth it.” You are not always going to be right. When you are wrong, admit it. Correct it if possible and move forward, but do not be afraid to make the next tough decisions that comes your way. T. Boone Pickens once said, “Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready, aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome.’ You must be willing to fire.”

Years ago, I was put in one of those situations where I had to make a tough decision. The decision centered around the standards that need to be lived out by my staff and leaders. As I shared these guidelines with my staff and leaders, it was received well by most, however, there were one or two individuals who struggled with the guidelines. They met with me and shared their opinions, but I knew in my heart the decision I made was the right one. Looking back, I would have made the same decision, but I would have approached it differently. Unfortunately, one of the individuals left my leadership and the organization as a whole. I deeply regret this person’s decision because I care for them and enjoyed their contribution to the team. Tough decisions are part of being a leader and part of the journey toward Higher Ground. Bill Marriott Sr. expressed his view of decision making by saying, “Men grow making decisions and assuming the responsibilities for them.” Be willing to admit when you are wrong, but never lack the courage to make the tough decision.

David Mahoney said that the worst mistakes he ever made were because of the decisions he failed to make. In 1966 he was the head of Canada Dry. The stock was selling at a low price of $11 per share and with about 2.5 million shares outstanding, he could have bought the entire company for $30 million. About twenty years later, he would have been worth about $700 million.
The decisions a person seeking Higher Ground has to make will include:
• FINANCIAL,
• PERSONAL,
• STAFFING,
• VISION,
• MISSION,
• HIRING,
• FIRING,
• RISK TAKING,
…and the list goes on.

You gather the information possible, seek advice when available, but don’t be afraid to make the decision necessary. Courage to make the tough call will quickly mark you as a leader or follower, it will separate you from being a dreamer to being a doer, from a mountain observer to a mountain climber.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.”
– Win Borden

“20 Traits of a Great Leader”

Chris Sonksen Leadership

Reflect on yourself as a leader

The following is a snapshot of a great leader. I give these to you with no detail or explanation, but for you to reflect on them and be challenged. Take these twenty traits and use them as a sounding board to indicate your current status as a leader. Copy the list and give it to your team members and let it be a starting point for a much deeper discussion.

1. A leader is always full of praise.

2. A leader learns to use the phrases “thank you” and “please” on his/her way to the top.

3. A leader is always growing.

4. A leader is possessed with his/her dreams.

5. A leader launches forth before success is certain.

6. A leader is not afraid of confrontation.

7. A leader talks about his/her own mistakes before talking about someone else’s.

8. A leader is a person of honesty and integrity.

9. A leader has a good name.

10. A leader makes others better.

11. A leader is quick to praise and encourages the smallest amount of improvement.

12. A leader is genuinely interested in others.

13. A leader looks for opportunities to find someone doing something right.

14. A leader takes others up the ladder with them.

15. A leader responds to his/her own failures and acknowledges them before others have to discover and reveal them.

16. A leader never allows murmuring – from himself or others.

17. A leader is specific in their expectations of others.

18. A leader holds accountable those who work with them.

19. A leader does what is right rather than what is popular.

20. A leader is a servant.

Until Next Week,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY
“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort – it is ready to climb.”

– Pat Riley

Questions every team member should ask themselves

Ask questions in order to evaluate your effectiveness as an individual player on the team:

Ask questions in order to evaluate your effectiveness as a player on the team

A few years ago America was caught in a frenzy of game shows.  One game show that did extraordinarily well was a fast moving game called “The Weakest Link.” In this game contestants would work as a team answering a variety of questions and attempting to bank as much money as possible.  At the end of each round the contestants would privately vote on who they felt was the weakest link.  Typically the weakest link would be someone who was unable to answer some of the questions or took too much time off the clock when answering the questions.  The game would finally arrive at two players who would compete for the amount of money the overall team had won, but only one person walked away with the money.

The idea of the weakest link can be played in the teams of any organization.  You have heard the statement “a team is no greater then its weakest member.”  This is true!  The strength of your organization should not and cannot fall on the shoulders of a few.  Every team member must be working at being the best player they can be.  I am not saying your organization should be voting off players until it gets down to one, but I am saying that every player must be working toward becoming a player of substance.

Here are a few questions that you and your team members can ask about yourselves to evaluate your effectiveness as an individual player on the team:
1)  Do I add value to the team?
The team has to be a better team because you are a part of it.  You bring something to the table that adds value to the overall success of the organization.

2)  Do I add value to others?
In other words am I bringing out the best in those around me?  Does my attitude and actions cause my fellow team member to become bitter or better?

3)  Am I quick to give away the credit
A successful team has no room for those who are so insecure that they need the spotlight on every occasion.  A valuable team member is quick to give away the credit because it shows that they are caught up in the team’s successes not in their own individual accolades.

4)  Am I raising up potential leaders?
Truly successful team members are consistently raising up new leaders.  They do not hold down people out of fear of being outshined.  They understand the power from multiplying leadership.

5)  Is my attitude positively contagious?
Nothing can lift up a team quicker or tear down a team faster then attitude.  Make sure your attitude is healthy and positive.  Believing and speaking the best about others and about the organization you serve.

6)  Are you producing?
A team member must be producing.  This includes achieving objectives, creating new concepts, growing as a leader, lifting the value of the organization, getting it done and then some.  Be that kind of team player and you will never lack a team to play on!

Take these questions to heart.  Talk about them in your next staff or leadership meeting.  Challenge each of your players to live out these six qualities and your team will be playing a whole new game!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“You’ve got to have good athletes to win, I don’t’ care who the coach is.”
Lou Holtz – Former Notre Dame football coach

Soaring with your strengths

Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest your time in it

Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest your time in it.

Maybe you have heard the saying “people don’t burn out in their strengths, they burnout in their weaknesses.”  This is true! When you and I love to do something we usually don’t burn out in that area of our lives, it’s when we involve ourselves with areas of weakness that we are quick to be drained.  When we participate in areas that we don’t have a natural gifting or passion we find ourselves burning out and trying to figure a way out.

My son loves to play baseball and as many American children, has high hopes of playing in the Major Leagues.  He is not interested in any other sport except baseball.  He would play baseball day and night if he could.  I have also noticed that of all the other sports he has sampled, baseball is where he is most naturally gifted.  It is where his passion is strongest!  Now because he is passionate, loves the game and has some gifting in the area of baseball it is rare to see him burnout and say to me “Dad, I don’t want to play baseball.”

In any organization, church, company or team it is important for the leader to discover the areas of strengths for themselves and for the individual team members. The last thing you want to do is to have you or any of your team members spending a large amount of time on something your not good at and that you don’t even like to do.  Below are two simple rules to follow that will help you to move in the right direction of placing you and your team members in areas where you will receive the greatest amount of results.

Rule #1 –  Discover what you love to do and do it with all your heart
When evaluating where you or your team members spend the majority of your time you must ask yourself “What do I love to do.”  What is it that brings the most joy to my life? What I suggest is that you take out a piece of paper and write down your “likes” and “dislikes.”  Exhaust everything that comes to your mind and write it down.  You will find that there are things that you love to do and that you couldn’t imagine ever burning out in those areas.  For me personally, I love to communicate but I don’t love to administrate.  I love casting vision, but I don’t love carrying out the details.  The more I place my energy in the things I love the happier I am and the more effective I am!  Find what you love to do and spend more time doing it.

Rule #2 –  Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest the majority of your time in it.
Michael Jordan is known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  He is most known for his career with the Chicago Bulls and the incredible ensemble of players they had in the 90’s.  But do you remember when he retired from Basketball and tried his skill at Baseball.  In his own words it was the worst mistake of his life.  He is a Basketball player not a Baseball player.  He has a God given gift in a specific sport and he does his best when he stays within his gifting.  It is important for you and your team members to operate inside of their gifting.  What is it that God has designed you to do…what is your gifting?  You and your team members will be happier and more successful when you operate in your area of strength.

Chances are there is two or three things that you do very well and most importantly you love to do.  Discover those areas and spend the majority of your time doing them.  Your personal life and the life of your team will reach its potential when it operates with these two thoughts in mind…what do I love to do and what am I good at?

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“When you’re passionate, you’re focused, purposeful and determined, without even having to try.  Your body, mind and spirit are all working in unison towards the same goal.”                                                                   Marcia Wieder