We have all been in meetings when we have been encouraged to think ‘outside the box’, ‘use a blank sheet of paper’ and ‘blue sky dream’. They are nothing new. However, the success of these meetings is dependent upon the attendees, the preparation and the ability to listen. Blue sky thinking quickly deteriorates into a rainy day when the managers begin to see the problems too soon and the potential for new things is swamped by the clouds of past failings. Setting up these meetings well is so important.
Here are a few steps that may help;
- Determine who will attend – these meetings need more creatives than managers. You want ideas to flow without restraint, in the initial stages, and therefore require the big thinkers.
- Guard the ‘rules of the meeting’ – the chair of the meeting needs to ensure that all voices are heard. However, this is not enough, the chair of the meeting must also ensure that clouds are not allowed to form – stay strong in this.
- Every new idea matters – there is nothing in blue sky thinking that should be out of bounds, the limitations come in the next stages of discussion.
- Positive energy – the meeting should be positive thinking, leave the negative views at the door.
- Reward the thinkers – rewards take all shapes and forms but we need to credit those who come up with new ideas, they are the lifeblood of any organisation and prevent stagnation. If we value these people, they will continue to contribute to the benefit of everyone. They are often taking a big personal risk in sharing their ideas.
- Listen well – attendees must listen to absorb what is said. Then ideas can flourish – we often listen to argue with what is said, this is not listening, it is combat!
There are many more that could be added to the list, these are just for starters…..keep dreaming!
Have we lost our missionary vision? In the Evangelical world, it can sometimes feel that we have lost the same heart and passion for seeing ‘souls saved’ in order that we can see ‘communities transformed’. It is true that one can lead to the other but the reversal of priority order is problematic for the evangelical movement.
It is exciting to see the people fed, sanitation restored, lifestyles improved, the poor cared for and these things should be mightily applauded but if the cost is an eternity in hell rather than heaven, are we selling ourselves and our faith short? Are we becoming satisfied with 2nd best?
In Numbers 32, we see the Reubenites and the Gadites seeking land that was not a part of the promise. Yes, they helped the promised land to be taken but they settled in an area on the wrong side of the Jordan – they forsook the promise for 2nd best.
As evangelicals it is my contention that we get the order right in our mission – souls saved and communities transformed. The former must take priority and the consequences will benefit all of society, otherwise we may fail to take hold of all that God has promised….that would be a shame.
“People don’t buy newspapers. They buy news. It isn’t glasses that are purchased; it’s better vision. Women who spend big bucks for cosmetics are really trying to buy good looks. Millions of drills have been sold; yet not a single person wanted one. They are buying holes. Diet books are not sold by publicizing the evils and risks of being overweight; they’re sold by ads depicting how attractive one can become by shedding a few pounds. Athletes do not go through the agony of practice and training to avoid losing; they do it to make the team and be a winner. Appealing to a higher vision is simply helping others become not only what they are capable of becoming, but what they really want to become.” John Maxwell
What is our higher vision? On whom are our eyes fixed?
There is something safe and secure about familiar things. They breed comfort, peace and can provide a sense of well being. However, we must be careful that we do not allow the familiar to prevent us exploring new things.
In london we have all the favourite tourist destinations, the places that people want to see, be a part of and take pictures of. However, London is more than its famous landmarks, more than the well trodden paths, it has plenty of character, hidden spaces and beauty beyond compare that is often overlooked and forgotten.
The same can be said of our lives, our families, our work places, our churches – when do we go exploring, get creative, plough new ground? We do not want to lose sight of the familiar and safe ground….nor should we lose sight of new possibilities and new horizons.
If you offer a reward to someone for achieving a goal, you must be careful that you do not force people to concentrate more on the reward than the goal. If you put the carrot in front of a donkey, it may miss the boulder, the wheel may fall off the cart and the goal will not be reached.
Rewards will serve far more if they help prod people to action rather than being the reason for action.