does God speak…to me?

When was the last time you heard from God?  When was the last time you were listening for God’s voice?  As a tech person, I tend to find myself back in the booth just trying to facilitate what other people have heard from God.  Hearing from God is something that happens to other people.

I have been reading my way through the gospels and right now, John the Baptist has just seen Jesus for the first time and says “This is the Son of God.”  Throughout this encounter with Jesus, John is saying things that we would consider not normal:  doves descending, voices telling someone what to do, God’s son showing up.  Again, these are all things that happen to other people, whether that’s in biblical times or just other people I hear about.

I got to thinking, that I don’t expect anything remotely like this to ever happen to me.  I live my life, I make choices, I pray, I journal, I go to church…but I don’t typically expect to have God speak directly to me.

The sad part, is that I would say that I have had at least 5 encounters with God that I can’t explain, and yet I still assume that God speaks to other people and I just facilitate that.  My life would be very different if I hadn’t responded to those promptings.

What would my life look like if I really expected God to speak?  Or what if I slowed my life down enough to actually have space to listen for His voice?

Now I’m thinking, it is one thing to hear God’s voice, but John the Baptist actually did something about it.  He got down to business baptizing people, wearing burlap and eating locust.

Taking this a step further, what about the promptings I get that I don’t act on?  What would happen if I followed these promptings and trusted God for the outcome?

I feel like this applies beyond big life decisions to every day life.  I had a season in my life a few years ago where I felt very unsettled and wanted God to give me the answer to what to do with my life.  Instead, every time I asked the question:  “God, what do you want me to do with my life?”, I would put my pen down and wait for an answer, and it was always something like, apologize to this person for what you said yesterday.  I would get so frustrated.  I’m not doing that!  Where’s the big answer?

Eventually I realized that if I am unwilling to follow a prompting to apologize to someone or to give a gift anonymously to a person or write a blog post about hearing from God; why would I think that God would entrust me with some bigger life altering word.



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over communicate and don’t undersell

I am continually amazed at how expensive production equipment can be…I can only imagine what non-technical people think of the prices!


We have been in the process of upgrading a space here, and we are choosing to not go for the best long term solution, but rather a really solid intermediate step.  In other words, we aren’t even talking about wireless mics or changing out the 4:3 screens for 16:9 or doing any sort of lighting upgrade; and it is still a ton of money.  Just for the basics of audio.

I have learned (or relearned) a few things in this process.

If I think it is expensive and I understand what needs to happen technically, imagine what it is like for a non-technical church leader who only understands that it is going to cost a lot.  I probably still haven’t done a great job of this, but I have been trying to over communicate what can and can’t be done, and why things cost what they do.

The leaders at my church, and yours, need to know that we are being responsible with the money that has been donated by the congregation, and that what we are purchasing will advance the ministries of the church and not just be a bunch of cool new toys for the tech team.

The other big thing I have gotten a new perspective on, is that it doesn’t help anyone if I undersell the idea.  If after working through what is needed, I shouldn’t back down from the realities of what needs to be done.

As a type 9 on the enneagram scale, it turns out that I don’t love conflict.  When I get into situations where people are pushing on why things need to cost so much, I find myself trying to figure out how we could do it for less.  While working hard to make things the least expensive they can be is a necessary exercise and a responsible way to spend the church’s money.  However, if it needs to cost a certain amount in order to achieve the desired results, there is no reason to try to hide or down play that.

So maybe to summarize what I’m learning, over communicate and acknowledge that equipment is expensive.  But also, don’t back down from what is needed to achieve the desired results.  If the needs of the ministry cost “x”, don’t undersell to “y” and then not really help the ministry.

nostalgia is a dangerous form of comparison

I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a guy who took a trip through Europe using the EuroRail pass.  It turns out he was reliving a trip he took 30 years ago, just to see if he could do it now that he was 20 pounds heavier and had gotten used to staying in nice hotels and eating great food.

As he was living through the challenges of traveling for 15 days through Europe as a middle aged guy, he realized that all his memories of his previous trip were perfect.  He had fabricated a trip where nothing bad happened, and the experience was once in a life time.

This reminded me of a quote from Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly:

Nostalgia is a dangerous form of comparison.

For Alan Soloman, the traveler in this case, trying to compare his most recent trip to his first one might have ruined the entire experience for him.  Realizing that his brain had fabricated a fairy tale of the earlier trip, helped him to enjoy the ups and the downs of his train trip through Europe.

In my context, I often think back onto my days at Kensington Church as without flaw.  Even here at Willow Creek, we can sometimes get caught up in reliving the glory days.  This makes me think of a couple things.  One is that, like Alan, most of what we remember is made up, and never quite happened.  The second is that while we can learn from the past, only talking about the past doesn’t help move things forward.

As a technical artist, much of my existence involves working with other people’s ideas.  Not that I don’t have my own ideas, I just don’t exercise that muscle very often.  Because of that, it is easy to reach back in time and just compare what isn’t working today with what worked in the past.

How can I stop using the past as a solution for the future?  

Understanding the past is essential for not repeating the same mistakes over and over again, but the future needs new ideas and new thoughts.

perfectionism is a perception

I’m coming down off the Summit experience, and have a brain full of stuff to process.  For those of you who were a part of pulling off the experience at sites all over North America, thanks for your partnership and your commitment to excellence.  I always love the way we can come together to technically support such a far reaching event.

wpid-2497690512_04ae6f093b_o.jpgOne of the things I like to do in preparing for the Summit each year, is to read as many of the books written by the speakers as possible.  This helps me get my mind wrapped around the content of each session, and since I interact with all the speakers, it helps me get to know them in some way before I meet them.  It also makes it easy to make small talk about the topic they are passionate about while we are getting them mic’ed up.

This year, Brene Brown spoke about the science of shame and vulnerability.  I have been listening to her book “Daring Greatly” which I would highly recommend to every technical artist I know.

Here’s a quote that I love:

Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation. Perception is impossible to control.

As tech people, we tend to get accused quite often of driving for perfectionism.  That our attention to detail or our need to know exactly what is going to happen are because we want things to be perfect.  That a flawless execution is the highest value.

For me and for the team I have the privilege to lead, we do care about flawless execution, but it isn’t because that’s what matters most or because my self worth is wrapped up in a service with no mistakes in it.  The internal motivation is to remove potential distractions from people’s experience.  The goal is to make production as transparent (sounds better than invisible) as possible…that people are focused on worshiping or hearing the message with nothing getting in the way.

I am pretty comfortable with the fact that I am not a perfectionist.  I like to do my very best, which is all I can expect from myself.  With that, I am uncomfortable with being labeled a perfectionist, which is a perception.

While it might be impossible to control people’s perceptions, as Brene states, I need to do my very best to try to change that perception.  I can’t expect people to understand my motivation or my team’s motivation if I am not continually casting vision for why we do what we do.  I’m not so worried about the random people that come up to the booth and complain about the volume.  I’m mostly interested in helping the people I work closely with understand why I am after so much information, or why rehearsing things matters so much to my team.

What is your internal motivation for a flawless service?

What are some ways that you could help change the perception people might have of perfectionism?



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