I got to have coffee with the uber-sharp children's pastor Anthony Prince after reGroup last week. And he asked me what my secrets were to longevity (I've been here 21 years). After some thought, I told him that I'd made it this long because I work for an amazing organization, then I itemized what's great about it that's led to me staying for so long. Afterward, though, I kept thinking about this question and realized that in essence the things that make for longevity in an organization are also the things needed for the individual. So…here are my secrets I shared with Anthony (and my after-thoughts in parens).
* Healthy culture–Group is healthy relationally because we practice direct communication and people-friendliness. It's healthy in the way it's led and managed. It's healthy in its business practices and in its finances. It's healthy because it's God-seeking and God-honoring in every corner! (In the same way, individuals must be healthy in all these things to avoid burnout. If one of these areas isn't healthy on a personal level, it makes it difficult to thrive in a job.)
* Integrity–There is never a smack of shadiness or bending the rules here. I respect and am attracted to such stellar character in all our practices. (Ditto for people.)
* Vision–I'm committed to our mission: We equip churches to encourage Christian growth in children, youth, and adults (and yes, that was from memory this time!). It drives me forward and energizes me. (Without vision, the people perish.)
* Philosophy–Not just any philosophy, but I believe in REAL learning. It's powerful, memorable, and life-changing. I believe in all our developed philosophies: The equipping church, the externally focused church, our family ministry approach, and more! Beyond these, I love working here because we're always asking why? We don't just do things the way others do, but we do them innovatively. (That keeps me stimulated and challenged, but I also have to be a learner and striving for the very best on a personal level in my work.)
* Loyalty–I love and adore our leaders. I respect their wisdom and I trust their hearts. It's a joy to align with their vision and direction every single day. (For people to stay for the long haul, they need to be able to make their agenda the agenda of their leaders.)
* Personal Value–That said, above, I love that I'm still encouraged to be a critical thinker. I'd never thrive in a setting where I had to be a "yes man." I know that my "let's analyze that, dream it, rethink it, look at it in a new way" is perceived as a value to my organization. And I feel tremendously valued. (Enough said.)
So…I think that about sums it up. Thanks, Anthony, for asking the question. And thanks for being a young man, father, husband, minister who's committed to finishing well. That gives me goosebumps!