As the school year was winding down, I started to have this familiar feeling that my life was, once again, slipping out of control. Trying to get all the end of the year responsibilities accomplished, gearing up for summer programing, connecting with returning college kids, made it in credibly easy to sacrifice my normal rhythms and be busy with no rest in sight.
What I found to be so challenging was that I really enjoyed everything that I was doing. In fact I didn’t feel over worked, I felt like it was killing it professionally. But every passing day, the hint that I was running a 100 miles an hour in a hundred different directions was getting louder and louder. That hint was that besides my job, I am also a husband and a father.
Ministry + Family = Hectic Life
And now that my kids are getting older, they actually need more from me. They have sports and their own social lives and their own end of school activities. This added chaos combined with my work schedule, made me feel like my family was running around like a chicken with their head cut off.
Then I came across Patrick Lencioni‘s new book, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family at a conference and bought it immediately. Who knew there would be a book that would help me navigate my life by asking 3 simple questions.
That night I opened the book and was immediately drawn in by Lencioni’s writing style. I have read some of his other books, and this is written in the same narrative style. After he developed they “typical” family, Lencioni moved to the meat, the practical help, the solution to help families who feel out of control begin to gain a sense of control.
Every chapter I took a ton of notes and developed my family plan. About every 20 minutes I would look over at my wife and tell her what a great book this is and what a great plan I am developing for our family. She would look at me graciously and say, “I can’t wait to talk about it.” After a week of work and with a complete plan, I was ready to share it with my wife.
So on Saturday evening we put a movie on for the kids, poured a glass of wine, and sat on our deck ready to get our family system under control. The problem was that I only got about two sentences in before my wife stopped me. She said that she was so proud of me trying to understand our family and get the frantic pace of our lives under control. She loved that I wanted to develop intentional relationships with her and with our kids. She loved that I was willing to wrestle through my job responsibilities so I could have better balance there. But then she made it clear that the franticness I was feeling was actually just my franticness.
My wife and my kids did not feel frantic at all. She has friends, she has a job, she has a rhythm that works. Are kids are loved by her and taken care of by her, seen and known by her. They have special jokes and rhythms that I have no idea about. While there were times in our past where this franticness was felt by all of us, this day, this season, the frantic pace of life was simply mine!
My life was out of control, and this book helped!
All that to say is my life was obviously out of control enough to the point that I thought everyone else was in the same predicament. Because this frantic pace was actually my problem, I was able to take my family plan that Lencioni maps out and write up one for my personal and my professional life.
He does this by getting you to ask 3 basic questions. How cool that all of the brilliance of Lencioni and all of his work he does with CEO’s and financial big wigs, is accessible for people like me. So what are these three questions?
1) What is your top priority right now? We all have 10 things we want to get after right now. But the truth is that our brains are limited, our time and resources are limited. After you take these 10 things you want to do, start chopping away until you find the top priority. This is your rallying cry. This is what is going to shape your time and resources.
As you get after this top priority you must outline your defining objectives. These are the new initiatives that will allow you to accomplish this priority. Then there are standard objectives. These are the objectives that you can not let go of that keep the rest of the machine working.
2) What makes us unique? You wouldn’t think that this is an important question, but this actually is the most important question. We are all unique, we all have different gifts, passions, and abilities we bring to the table. Instead of continually trying to keep up with the Jones’s in both a family sense, but also in a ministry sense, we should settle in on what makes us and our ministry unique and maximize that!
3) How will we talk about and use the answers to this information? This is Lencioni’s way of having feedback loops. We must have people, spouses, friends, supervisors, who will hold our feet to the fire, who will keep us on task, who will help us succeed. Without feedback loops, we are doomed to fail!
That is it. 3 simple questions that will focus us personally and professionally so we don’t find our selves chasing good and ok things at the expense of running after what is truly great!
I hope and pray that your life is considerably less frantic than mine. But if you find your self slipping and sliding out of control, then this is a great resource. This book is approachable, easy to read, and give you the step by step directions to develop your own plan.
My you find some space in your life this summer to reflect on the habits and pace of your life so that you will be defined by compassion, grace, empathy, love and joy and not as someone who is really busy. Don’t let your tasks or schedule master you. Develop your rallying cry and get after it!