This is a tough one to write and you’ll see why.

One of the things I wrote about early on was the need to delegate tasks. The more that you take on – whether by choice or because it was dumped on you – the less effective you will be at all of it. Long to-do lists impede your ability to focus on the most important things.

Now… I was able to get a lot of shit done because I took the necessary preparation time, invested in building relationships, and constantly analyzed what was needed to make everything run more efficiently.

80% of being a good music director is analyzing and solving problems while making consistent progress toward improving processes. When starting from scratch as I did, it is important to remember that success does not happen overnight. Each level is earned with seeds that you planted earlier and obstacles that you tackle along the way. Every problem you solve is a solution that bears far more fruit than the initial “fix” because you will be able to build on it.

Instead of kicking the same can from one Sunday to the next, pick the damn can up! Then, it won’t be in your way five months from now. The best way to do it? Get someone else to pick up the can. As I’ve said before, if you are a music director and you ever stop recruiting, then you are garbage. One of your goals should be recruiting and training people to pick up all of your cans!

Trust me. You will always find more cans to pick up. The difference is that the road will be a lot clearer and more traffic will pass by. This does not come without its own potential dangers.

  • The more efficiently your operation runs, the more attractive it will look to others who would not/did not do the work. And yes, they may very well undermine and sabotage you, especially if there’s a chance they can find a way to take over your shit and take credit for building on top of it. (Much easier to do when you have already done the ground work and cleared the obstacles!)
  • The better you get at recruiting the right people to get things done, the more likely your pastor(s) may be tempted to deem you unnecessary. Why pay someone to do it if you have already recruited someone to handle that for you?
  • Micromanaging pastors – particularly those with no long-term strategy who want immediate short-term results – will fuck up your progress in a second if it slightly inconveniences them. Remember what I said previously about building and learning curves? They don’t recognize them. They will interfere with your attempts to fix a long-term problem and then blame you for the problem still being there!

Straight out: As a leader, you should absolutely, positively prioritize getting everything to run more efficiently. Not I said efficiently – not leanly, cheaply, or quickly – but efficiently.

Just know that as you get better at it, you draw more attention from opportunists jockeying for your position and less job security. And I hate to tell you this: Just because they say that they love your work doesn’t mean that they appreciate it… or appreciate you.

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