I organized seven phone call and face to face meetings with friends here and abroad to sort some stuff out in my own head this week and I had a realization that made me a bit sad:
Most people don’t have these kinds of friends, and it made me wonder why.
We’re quite social and always have people over and I love how much bigger you have to think, especially when the people you hang with like to learn. There was a time in our family that we didn’t socialize much when we were young and thought we were busy, but now we make time for it.
But I also think the older some of us get the fewer friends we have and the easier it is to get comfortable, and getting to know new people is definitely a bit uncomfortable.
There are the joys of life which are lovely to celebrate with people, but maybe the more crucial times of pressure and trouble where we need people who know all about us and still love us. What I’ve found is that if we haven’t already started a conversation in the good times, we are unlikely to start them in the bad, and that’s when we hit a wall and lose things we never thought we’d lose.
I’m a church planter and Venue just turned 1 and I was in evaluation mode, which means taking a hard look at all the details. The trouble is that I’m an optimistic dreamer who can see a different world within reach if we could just look up a little, and some details bore or irritate me, as necessary as they are.
Venue Church is volunteer driven which frees up a lot of capital for us and gets amazing, talented people involved, but I honestly don’t know who’s scheduled for Venue Kids or running cameras because our team is almost too good at what they do. So when I hear about scheduling issues I can easily gloss over them with “You’ll figure it out:)” because they always do.
I would rather someone else deal with the dark side of the force while I do the dreaming, but surprisingly no one is volunteering to do that.
“Hi! Thanks for joining the volunteer team! Your job will be to handle all the negative or boring things and tell me everything’s great when I ask you how things are going!” …an attractive proposition for sure.
But there are other times when you have to look at the big picture. What I needed was to talk to some of my peers in what we do because I had no apples to compare my apples to, and am so driven that I’ll never reach the carrot because I’m constantly pushing the carrot further.
I really wanted honest feedback (not that I enjoy every random person’s “Can I be honest with you?” as it often is the prelude to “Here are my thoughts about everything that I may or may not understand”:), but I wanted it from people I respect and trust.
So I set up seven meetings.
There’s the obvious snag with why we don’t do this sort of thing more:
We might hear something we don’t like about ourselves.
Isn’t it funny that our egos get heavily invested in whatever it is we’re doing that we forget that what we DO is not who we ARE? It’s why it hurts so much to hear legitimate criticism from a good source, because we tend to translate it “Here’s why THAT isn’t working” to “Here’s why YOU’RE a failure!”
So I gave my friends access to everything and straight up asked for their thoughts about ALL of it including myself, and these are men and women who will be courteous, but above all HONEST because they refuse to sacrifice truth on the altar of the need to be perceived as nice by everyone (a Canadian thing:)
And it actually wasn’t all that bad.
Most of what I heard told me we were doing very well for our demographic etc. Most told me they loved what they see us doing (just baptized 22 people last week. Snap was THAT an amazing privilege!). Most mentioned a lot of things we were doing right to reach who we need to reach. Some said they wished they could be a part of what we’re doing.
But they all had… what’s the nice word for correction… “suggestions” for me, and some of it was personal.
It’s funny that I feel better now because I have some defined tweaks to make, which are much more attractive than a general sense of something not quite working but no one knows what it is…
But what seemed to come up most was what my mom’s been saying since I was two.
“Relax Corey, you’re so impatient”