Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Marshmallows or Gum drops?

I recently attended Awana Commander College, training for Awana Commanders (what else would it be for?).  An unexpected lesson came out of a team-building exercise.

First off, credit where credit is due.  I did not come up with this idea - it came from Texas Awana Missionary Brad Iverson ... but I'm not too proud to re-use a good analogy!

In the exercise, each team was given a bag of dry spaghetti noodles, a bag of mini marshmallows, and a bag of spice gum drops, and given 10 minutes to build the largest, most stable structure we could.  I can't say it was a conscious decision, but my team used only the gum drops, ignoring the marshmallows ... the result was that our tower not only stood the tallest, but was still standing tall 24 hours later, after the ones built with marshmallows had collapsed.

The lesson from this is that a team is only as strong as its weakest link.  In the game, the marshmallows were the weakest link; in application, the weakest link may be a person that really does not belong in kidmin, or at the least does not belong in the role I as a leader have assigned to him or her.

As Commander, one of my most important responsibilities is making sure the leaders I recruit are properly trained and equipped.  Equally important though is being a good steward of the people resources God provides, matching their skills and passions to the club's needs.  I have one helper who freely admits he does not like kids -- and yet he has been a huge blessing by setting up the gym before club every week!  What would have happened if I had assigned him as a club director?

How many times do we take someone into our Awana ministry just because they are a warm body, and latch unto them praising the Lord?  If we are not careful, we may soon realize that we have added a weak link in the form of a trouble maker, team gossip, a do nothing leader, complainer, possibly even a child molester. Wise Commanders will take time to interview (and background check) them, set expectations as to job responsibilities and training, and make sure they will not be a weak link.
Having "weak" leaders can and will interfere with your ability to build a strong Awana Leader team. Reaching kids for Christ is serious ministry. It demands serious leadership.  Don't fall for the weak links, those marshmallows.  You want capable, passionate and trained leaders...those gum drops!

Do you have something to add? A question you'd like answered? Think I'm out of my mind? Join the conversation below, reach out by email at david (at) securityforrealpeople.com, or hit me up on Twitter at @dnlongen

Whois David?

My photo

I have spent the better part of two decades in information technology and security, with roots in application developer support, system administration, and network security. My specialty is cyber threat intelligence - software vulnerabilities and patching, malware, social networking risks, etc. In particular, I strive to write about complex cyber topics in a way that can be understood by those outside the infosec industry.

Why do I do this? A common comment I get from friends and family is that complex security topics give them headaches. They want to know in simple terms how to stay safe in a connected world. Folks like me and my peers have chosen to make a profession out of hacking and defending. I've been doing this for the better part of two decades, and so have a high degree of knowledge in the field. Others have chosen different paths - paths where I would be lost. This is my effort to share my knowledge with those that are experts in something else.

When not in front of a digital screen, I spend my time raising five rambunctious teens and pre-teens - including two sets of twins. Our family enjoys archery, raising show and meat rabbits, and simply enjoying life in the Texas hill country.

For a decade I served as either Commander or a division leader for the Awana Club in Dripping Springs, Texas; while I have retired from that role I continue to have a passion for children's ministry. At the moment I teach 1st through 3rd grade Sunday School. Follow FBC Dripping Springs Kids to see what is going on in our children's ministries.