Many of us are very protective of our equipment.  We can also be very protective of how that equipment gets used.  This becomes evident when someone from the outside wants to use “our” equipment, or “our” room.  This could be a guest artist, or it could be the children’s ministry.  They have a certain way of doing things.  So do we.  They have been burned multiple times.  So have we.  They want it to be successful.  So do we.  But instead of focusing on the fact that we all want it to go well, we focus on all the ways we don’t agree, or aren’t seeing eye to eye.  As a result, we are seen as over-protective, territorial, and basically difficult to work with.

Much of this comes from the fact that we don’t know each other that well, and have not worked together very often.  There are a ton of unknowns at play, and most of the time, things can get worked out once we understand each other.

Here are a few ideas on how to seem less territorial, and more of a team player.

Decide what matters the most.  You can’t die on every hill that comes along.  After initial conversations, figure out which things are essential and which things you could let go of.  So often with guest artists, we would try to squeeze them into our way of doing things, making it impossible for them to even be themselves.  Instead now, we figure out what is non-negotiable in our particular situation, and then release the rest of it to the other person.

Explain the reason why.  Many times, when we start putting restrictions on people, they don’t understand why.  My wife and I took at parenting class when our kids were little, and one of the concepts was that kids will respond better if they understand the why behind something.  “Don’t run out into the street.” isn’t as effective as “Don’t run out into the street, because there are cars that might hit and kill you.”  The same idea applies when working with people outside of production.  They don’t understand what you do, so they don’t understand the no…or the yes.  Help people understand where you are coming from.

Broaden your perspective.  It is very easy for production people to be seen as hyper focused on the technical stuff, and not really aware of the bigger picture.  When trying to negotiate what needs to happen, help the other person see that you aren’t territorial, by asking questions about what is trying to be done, or what the purpose of the event is.  This helps people see that you care about the impact of the event, not just the stuff that matters to you.

We all have people or groups that push us into being territorial.  How can you use these ideas to overcome your territorial-ness?

photo by: Orin Zebest

creativity is hard

I have been absent for so long from blogging, I hardly know where to pick it up again.  Not only have I forgotten how to be disciplined and just write, but I have lost the spark, or my brain is empty, or I am not sure what I think at the moment.

For a few months now, I just assumed it was because I was devoting all my brain space to Gurus of Tech, a gathering of technical artists from local churches around the world.  I figured that once it was over, my brain would fill back up with ideas.  It hasn’t, but maybe I also haven’t given it enough time.

Which leads me to the idea that is starting to form in my brain.  I was privileged to interview Blaine Hogan, a very talented creative director at Willow Creek, whom I get to work with each week.  During the interview, we talked about how many tech people think that creatives just sit around and the ideas just happen, usually while drinking a latte at Starbucks and listening to Spotify.  The reality is that starring at a blank page is scary.  Especially when you are out of practice.  And creativity isn’t necessarily automatic.

This isn’t first time that I have wanted to post a blog, but it is the first time I have actually gotten any words to appear.

Creativity is hard.  I also got to interview my senior pastor, Bill Hybels and he talked about how precious an idea is…they don’t just happen, but one idea also has the power to change the world.  It takes discipline to be creative and to get the ideas out.  Plus there are so many ways that an idea can die, or be buried by stuff that doesn’t matter.

Writing this blog and pouring myself into Gurus of Tech have helped me to understand the world that people who have to constantly generate ideas live in.  It has helped me to understand what it feels like when one of your ideas doesn’t go over with an audience.  I understand how difficult it is to transition from one idea to another while standing in front of a room full  of people.  It is not easy to stare at a blank page, knowing that, in 5 minutes you need to come up with something that seems amazing…no pressure.

How can you empathize with your senior pastor this weekend?  Your worship leader?  Your creative director?  Creativity is difficult, and these people need grace and encouragement from us.

photo by: Adam Mulligan

unreasonable people

I love to read.  Unfortunately I have discovered that as I get older, I have trouble staying awake while reading.  I’m not really that old, and in reality, I have had this problem for at least 15 years…ok since college.  As a result, I have been reading the same book for 8 months.(it is 1200 pages, just for the record)

To combat my mild case of narcolepsy, I have gradually switched over to listening to audiobooks.  Not only do I have about a 30 minute commute to work and 30 minutes home when I can listen, but with iTunes, you can listen at 2x speed, making it possible for me to get around 2 hours of reading done a day.

One of the difficulties with listening to a book instead of reading one, is that you can’t underline anything.  I was driving to work the other morning and I had to keep rewinding the book, then deciding I should pull over to send myself an email with what I wanted to “underline”.

It was a quote by George Bernard Shaw, a guy who had just about ever profession during his lifetime, but is perhaps best known as a playwright.  Here’s the quote:

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.

This hit me like a ton of bricks for a couple reasons.

I wish people were more reasonable.  As someone who has to figure out how to make someone’s ideas a reality, I can easily fall into the trap of wishing they would come up with ideas that were more doable; or ideas that were easier to figure out; or ideas that wouldn’t require me to stay late to work.

If this quote is true, how can I embrace the unreasonable person’s ideas?  What if I want to be the one who helps change the world with my ideas?  How can I be more unreasonable? 

Most of the really amazing things I have been a part of, have been unreasonable.  If I think back on it, much of the reason why I love to work in production can be traced back to some crazy unreasonable task:  an all-nighter, a stupid deadline, being completely outside of my comfort zone.  I wouldn’t trade many of those memories for anything, regardless of how unreasonable they seemed at the time.  In hindsight, they are the times that I felt like I learned the most and grew more than any other time in my life.

As technical artists, part of our job is to make the ideas of “unreasonable” people a reality; to adapt to the world around us.  The other part of it for me personally is to begin adapting to myself the parts of my world that I have been uniquely created to adapt.

For our churches to move forward; for us as individuals to move forward; we need to adapt to our world, and make the unreasonable happen, but how can we embrace the unreasonable so that our organization can move forward?