Leadership Reading List: Anything You Want

A few months back, Seth Godin launched The Domino Project, a publishing venture partnered with Amazon that values putting good ideas into the hands of readers.  I have been picking up a number of these books, and have really enjoyed the thoughts presented by the authors involved in the project. The most recent release, Derek Sivers’ Anything You Want is a quick, easy read that makes some profound points… and while intended to be a book chronicling his business experiences has some great applications for church leadership teams.

Way back in 1998 Derek Sivers was a musician looking for a way to get his music out to his fans.  As an indie artist, it was nearly impossible to get his music into most retailers.  Deciding to harness the power of his website, he went and applied for a credit card merchant account, and began selling his CDs online.  When his friends noticed this addition to his website they began asking him to sell their music as well.  Before he knew it, what started as a way to help his friends became cdbaby, a company he sold for $22 million ten years later.  Anything You Want is the story of cdbaby, and the lessons that Sivers learned along the way.

While this is primarily a business book, I came away with four things that I think the church needs to hear from this book:

  • Heck Yeah!  If you are not excited about a new project, event, or initiative don’t do it.  Too often leadership teams will settle on a new program that they are neither passionate about nor inspired by.  It may be a good thing to do, but if it does not stir the hearts of your leadership, you are pursuing the wrong thing.  When considering new initiatives, you should be answering either “no” or “Heck yeah!  When do we start?!”  An uninspired “yes” is not good enough.  You have limited time, manpower, and resources… invest them in things that stir your soul.
  • Define Success.  It is impossible to know whether what you are doing is effective if you don’t know what you are trying to do.  Derek’s desire is to create useful things: songs, companies, articles, etc.  Often times in the church world, we do a poor job of defining what it looks like when we have done our job.  Know what it looks like  when you are accomplishing your vision… talk about it, help your team understand what it looks like, and pursue it hard.
  • Real People.  One of the unfortunate side effects of our over-connected age is that it has become easy to forget that on the other side of that email, text message, or cell phone call is another human being.  An abundance of emails, phone calls, or conversations can often be an annoyance when we are trying to get our “important” work done.  Keeping in mind that the person initiating communication is a person, not an irritation, is key to caring well for the people that God has entrusted to us.  Returning phone calls, emails, and taking the time to talk to someone, even when we are busy, is more than just common courtesy… it is part of our calling.
  • Finish On Time.  When I was in college one of my professors told us that when the time comes to leave a church, you will know one to three years before anyone else.  Your co-workers will know within three years of when you first realize that it is time to move on, and by the time your congregation recognizes it is time for you to leave (typically five years after you know) you have failed the church.  There comes a point when you know that you are no longer able to serve the church effectively, and it is at that point when you need to craft your exit plan. Sivers quotes a conversation with Seth Godin just before he decided to sell cdbaby: “If you care, sell.”  If you care about the church and you know you need to leave… get out.

Want a copy of Anything You Want?  Leave a comment below (make sure you leave a way for me to contact you) and I will send a random commentor a copy.  I will select the winner at noon eastern on Saturday, July 16.

How do YOU define success in YOUR ministry?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/chet.klope Chet Klope

    Boy, that “Heck Yea” idea is really powerful.  It doesn’t take away from the reality that some of the things that we need to do are not “Heck Yea” kinds of activities.  But even those things like cleaning the bathroom can be part of a bigger “Heck Yea” like “making the best possible first impressions on people who visit our church”

    • http://www.churchthought.com Matt Steen

      I can’t wait to visit the church one day and hear you screaming “woooohooo!” while you are scrubbing the toilets!

      Good point about making things into “Heck Yeahs!”

  • Gregg

    I’m all about the “heck yeah” and the “real people” is a key reminder. Sadly, that can be easy to forget. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bob

    I like the “Real People” idea, because it is so true. You said it all when you stated that, the person  making contact, or trying to make contact, is a real person, not an irritation. I try to always be accessible,whether after the service is over, or answering email promptly. We could be the first point of contact to some people new to the church, or a safe contact to some who are not so new. I try to never forget that.

  • Josh

    Good points Matt.

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