I read an interesting quote the other day, by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp…”Perfectionism is slow death *by self.*It will kill your skill, your spark, your art, your soul.” I am a huge fan of Ann’s writings but I have to admit this quote wasn’t my favorite mainly because it made me squirm in my chair, stepped on my toes! I struggle with my own perfectionism, every.single.day! I do grasp the value of her words and there’s great wisdom in what she says. Perhaps for me the goal should become pursuing excellence rather than being perfection-driven. I am (slowly) grasping that as much as we’d like to deliver a perfect experience for our donors every time they interact with us, sadly we will fail. We can come mighty close to that goal though if we consistently strive for excellence and pay attention to details!
So, where am I going with this? What I can’t stress enough is the emphasis on striving for excellence (I so want to say perfection!) when handling donor information. There’s such value in sending out correspondence in which the donor’s name is correctly spelled and we include the correct last gift information, if pertinent. Does it ever irk you to receive mail in which your name is misspelled or even the wrong name, but your address? When a donor calls with an inquiry about their pledge or gift information we want them to hear the correct pledge amount or to be assured that we are drafting their account on the day they requested, using the proper payment information. If we promise a certain premium or giveaway, it matters that we fulfill that promise in a timely manner, sending the correct item. In situations like these, details truly matter; are the things we should strive to get right, every time! Now do you see why I’m driven to perfection??
The bottom line is this…although it may sound as boring as watching paint dry; data entry is a key element in delivering a great experience for our donors. See, I’m learning…I didn’t say perfect that time! Getting it right might generate enough trust for the donor to call us with yet another gift or even make the jump to trusting us with monthly automatic payment information. “Suzy Jones” receiving a piece of mail addressed to “Suzy Owns” isn’t likely going to create the experience we were hoping for! A single gift of $100 being charged $100 monthly could cause quite the angst for a donor! Imagine the disappointment when a family receives an XL shirt after the mom requested a small shirt for her little boy, at the time she made their pledge. My goal in sharing these examples is to help you appreciate why we data entry types focus so much on details and why they are important to our donors. I leave you with this point to ponder…As you staff your phone rooms for Sharathon, hire your office staff you likely want to choose people who have an eye (and ear!) for details and perhaps a small bent towards perfection.
Director of Partner Services
Recently I saw this story and it really made an impression on me…
“A man who was in construction was commissioned to build a massive bridge over the Mississippi River. This required him to be away from his family and friends. He also had to work long hours, six days a week. But when he returned, he told me what a great joy his six months working on that bridge had been. ‘A joy?’ I asked. ‘Yes, a joy,’ he said. ‘It is a rare and great thing to have your life used for something bigger than you. We leaders ought to be reminded frequently of what a joy it is to have our little lives caught up in something bigger than ourselves.’
I shared this with some of the PAR leadership team as a reminder that our work for PAR is something far greater than ourselves.
As I’m writing this, it’s 4:14 in the afternoon and I see Adam McCain down the hall finishing a time sensitive project. He’s been here since 5:00 this morning. He’s not still here because he’s trying to benefit himself. Instead he’s a person with a mission bigger than himself. He understands that excellence for God is what we are all trying to achieve.
One of the great joys of working for PAR is that our halls are full of people who “get it”. They understand who their work is ultimately for and they are the reason that God is blessing our stations with unprecedented growth in finances and ratings and most importantly, in the number of lives that are being reached for the Lord.
So, today, rejoice! Be glad for the position that God has placed you in. Sure it’s a little overwhelming sometimes(like building a bridge over the Mississippi). But God will equip us for the job he has laid out before us.
General Manager, WCQR
I am going to write this article with as much generality as possible. One day, a few more miles down the road from here, I’ll be more specific.
The place where I serve is in a double, or even triple, sub cultural environment, religiously speaking. The listeners, the team members, the colleagues who help us deliver our product — most are in a subculture of a subculture (as if ONE subculture isn’t tough enough!).
To clarify what I’m talking about: being Christian is in itself a subculture. If Christians were unified with no disagreements, denominations, or digressions, we would be one happy, powerful, subculture. But, alas, we have many flavors of Christianity. Thus, enters another level of subcultural-ness.
Just today, I heard a principle: the deeper a subculture grows and communicates only to and with itself, the further away from truth it gets. The answer here is that we need other voices to keep us from getting weird. And worse: “far from the truth.”
Now, I could camp out on the theological implications, but there are better trained teachers to do that. I will, however, use that principle to speak to the mixture of religion and our craft.
Because our business is about spreading God’s love (something sacred) through technology and media (okay, we’ll call that secular), we sometimes are tempted to put a guilt-tag onto something that is counter to a “best practice” in our industry. And maybe there are some God-inspired cases where you push conventional thinking aside for the awesome work of the Holy Spirit.
(Just be careful not to confuse that with indigestion from last night’s pizza.)
What am I talking about?
As I mentioned, dealing with people who are passionate about a faith defined by a subculture-within-a-subculture often screams in the face of what we know to be a best-practice. If we simply argue and put up a fight that “research proves this” or “the entire radio industry operates successfully by these principles” and give it a “so, there!” attitude — what does that accomplish?
Bonus point for assertiveness and unwavering. Subtract two points for creating a divide and three points for a missed opportunity to teach.
If you encounter someone who challenges conventional thinking, I’ve found it is always helpful to give ear — hear them out. Make sure you aren’t interjecting too soon, devaluing their opinions, or jumping to conclusions. After you’ve really listened, and only after, maybe you’ll have earned the right to carefully explain the differences. On occasion, they may have a valid point, an outside-the-box approach, or they may simply be speaking a different language than you. Dealing with vastly different approaches to business, ministry, tactics, and strategy are part of what makes life fun!
Culture Integration is taking all walks of life, all opinions and experience levels and carefully weaving them together under patient (but focused) leadership that can bring the strengths of everyone on your team along to victory.
Oh, and don’t get discouraged if change doesn’t happen overnight, or after one staff meeting. It will take consistency in walking out your mission, showing compassion for people, and passion for the vision; for the future that is the secret “simmering recipe” for harmony and unity.
P.S. One day, more specific examples. Patience, patience…
Daniel Britt .::. VP of Culture Integration
I’m a fan of Andy and Barney. Millions love the Andy Griffith show and its iconic whistling theme song, including myself. The show is clean, moral, fun, humorous and non-offensive. Filmed in the 1960’s, Griffith was once asked about the family-friendly, clean-cut view of the world the show presented. He said, “We were trying to reflect the morals of the 1930’s.”
Those are all well-intentioned qualities. Yet, they fall short.
One of my greatest fears is that Christian radio is the Andy Griffith show. We’re “safe for little ears”, positive, uplifting, encouraging, moral, clean, humorous and good. But that isn’t enough.
It isn’t enough to be morality radio. It isn’t enough to be the station that doesn’t use four letter words.
We must be gospel-centered.
Morality never rescued anyone from his or her shattered self-image.
Family-friendly never offered the solution to a broken marriage.
Safe and clean never delivered someone from the crushing weight of guilt.
The gospel does.
At Positive Alternative Radio we have begun a quest. Our goal is to be gospel-centered. We want to live our lives in the light of the gospel and in so doing share our struggles, failures, and successes with our listeners and allow them to see us being changed by Jesus.
At this moment, program directors who are reading this post are about to set their hair on fire.
I’m not saying we bring in Rev. Fred and give him the microphone for 30 minutes and let him scream his guts out.
I am advocating we have authentic conversations with our audience. And never doubt that your audience WANTS and DESIRES authentic interaction.
Continue to be funny.
Keep doing the “What’s the worst pet name you’ve ever heard?” bits.
But – there are times when life demands you be authentic.
Share your parenting struggles – because your listener is struggling as well.
Talk about how Jesus gives us a new identity – because those who listen to us need to be reminded that they are not defined by their past but by the cross and the resurrection.
But do it in an authentic and relevant manner.
One final thing, we have made a commitment to be more intentional with the gospel.
When it is appropriate and natural, we will share the gospel on-air. We won’t preach. But we will simply share the message of Jesus in 60-90 seconds and invite those listening to follow this Jesus that has transformed our lives.
Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”
I say, “What does it profit us as Christian media if we have 1 million in weekly cume, and never share the gospel?”
Let us be authentic.
Let us be unashamedly Christian.
Let us be gospel-centered.
Positive Alternative Radio
I’ve heard a lot of talk about the ‘core listener’…listener’s age, predominantly female, soccer mom, stay-at-home mom, etc. Honestly, I admit that hadn’t fully sunk into my brain as deep as it should…until this one call from a donor…
I received a voicemail from a lady who wanted to update her declined credit card. She asked that I please return her call that day, or she’d try and fit in a time to call me back later in the week. I happily called but got her answering machine. In the middle of me leaving a message, an out of breath lady answered the phone, “Hi! I’m so glad you called but can you hang on a minute, please?” I told her, “of course, no problem.” Then I overheard her talking to her child; giving instructions on how long to walk the dog, how far to go, to hold the leash tightly, etc. She apologetically returned to our call and began explaining what had happened with her credit card. We were partway through updating her card info when another child entered the conversation, “I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?” …Mom responded with a list of reasons which included, “No, it’s close to dinner time; go comb your hair we have to leave for rehearsal soon.” After giving further instructions on what she meant by “comb your hair”, she once again returned to our call and apologized profusely for all the interruptions.
In that moment, I realized this mom was taking precious time out of an insanely busy (perhaps normal?) day to update her card information with us so that her gift could resume. I realized what a huge inconvenience this call was for her and yet she was determined to get this done, even while juggling many tasks and people that yearned for her attention.
I have always been deeply grateful for our donors. After speaking with this dear lady, I feel as if I got to climb inside her world a bit and it makes me that much more thankful! I won’t pretend that I always get it right with every call but I’m so glad that I didn’t sound impatient or annoyed with this lady. I even took a moment to thank her for making time for my call. Each time I answer the phone now I am reminded of this sweet mom and how precious time is for our listeners and donors; how awesome it is that they carve in time to speak with us!
Director of Partner Services
You were created by God.
He fashioned you. You are the result of His skill and care.
But the wonder and the drama of our existence doesn’t stop there.
There’s an often skipped verse in Genesis.
These overlooked words can help bring purpose and joy to your daily life…your daily work life. No matter if you’re a stay at home mom who home-schools the kids, a factory worker who clocks in 8 hours a day exactly, a doctor who works limitless hours or the leader of a major company these words grant you amazing perspective.
The scripture reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15)
God created the man.
God gave the man work to do.
That verse screams we are to work. We are not to waste our lives in idleness chasing after the cheap thrills from the edges of life. We were made to make an impact.
Work is from God. Folding the laundry, selling advertising, building cars, feeding the cattle on a dairy farm – this work comes from the loving hand of our God.
God “put him in the garden…” God gave the man a vocation. God gave the man a talent and a task. The task God gave the man matched his talent.
Whatever you’re good at…whatever you’re passionate about…God gave that to you.
Then there are the words “work” and “keep”.
The man was to work. He was to labor.
Your job isn’t a burden. It isn’t to be seen as a necessity to pay the bills. Our work is a gift from Him. I can write that with 100% confidence because the talents we have to perform our work come from our Lord…and talents are not to be wasted.
That changes my perspective. I now can now say that I get to work where I get to exercise the gifts Jesus gave me. I’m not there just to earn a paycheck…I’m there to honor Him with the skills He gave me.
You’re not there just to wipe noses and change diapers…you’re there to honor Him with the talents He gave you.
Finally, there’s the ‘who’.
- God put the man in the garden.
- God gave the man the task to work the garden.
- God gave the man the talents to do the tasks.
What we do reflects His glory.
I can delight in what I do because I delight in the One who gave me the talent to do it. I have joy in what I do because my joy comes from the One who put me in this “garden”.
The mandate also becomes bolder and clearer.
I’m not here just to build great companies. You’re not here just to do data entry, prescribe medicine, adjust spines, sell cars, or build houses.
You’re here to honor Him…to give Him glory…and to give Him glory and honor THROUGH what you do.
Whatever garden you are laboring in – you’re there because God put you there.
Tend it well.
For the garden belongs to Him.
Well, it’s that time of year. It’s time to get out in the sun and get in the garden. I have never had much of a “green thumb”. I’ve never tended a garden personally, but I do know that it takes a lot of work. As a matter of fact, as I researched the topic for this post, I was shocked at all the info and tips that were available. I read tips on picking the best soil. I read instructions on how to know if plants were “shade-tolerant” or “sun-loving”. I even brushed up on how to deal with “immature root systems”. I have come to the conclusion that, like anything, once you have a basic understanding, the proper tools, and practice…growing plants still takes work. What? You thought I was going to say “it’s easy”?
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with radio. You may be asking how this applies to you, your work, Christian radio, and the Gospel. I’d like to compare a few steps it takes to have a successful garden with some steps we can take to have a successful experience in our work.
Readers BEWARE… Many metaphors ahead!!!
Prepare your Soil
Soil is the most important element in a garden and probably one of the most overlooked by “first-time” gardeners. Soil supports plants physically and provides them with water and nutrients. Now I will ask you, “In what kind of soil are you rooted?” I have found sixty one verses in Scripture that have to do with being rooted. They speak of being deeply rooted in the Word, in love, and in truth.
You see it matters what type of soil we are standing in. We preach the Gospel! We talk about Jesus and His love for us, but where does that knowledge come from? Are we simply relaying messages that we hear in church? Are we just passing on information we gather in small groups, or are we taking time to root ourselves in scripture? If I’m being honest, I really struggle with this. I overuse the excuse of being too busy, and at the same time running the risk of spreading a false gospel on our radio station.
That’s something to really think about. Are we rooting ourselves in the Truth? Soil matters. Actually it matters most.
Care for Your Garden
Even if you are without a “green thumb” you still understand that gardens take work. You have to care for the seeds you sew. I found it interesting how watering your plant actually helps it grow. It is not the water itself that is beneficial but the fact that the water flow dissolves the nutrients in the soil and helps transport those nutrients to and throughout the plant. I’ve also read that plants don’t necessarily need sunlight to grow but of course they grow stronger and are better produce having had it. But there’s something else that your garden needs that’s just as important. Yes, this is the part where I tell you that you need to weed your garden. You knew it was coming, right? You have to work. You have to care for your garden!
So how do we care for our work? Well we “weed out” distractions! (No pun intended)…It’s easy for me to get distracted. I come in each and every morning fired up and ready to do the best I can and by 9am I have already lost focus. Maybe it’s my phone or perhaps it’s social networking. The internet can be a big “weed” for me. But going a little deeper than that I would say work becomes a distraction to my work. If I am focused on too many things then I am not focused on just one thing; therefore, that one thing suffers. Also, piling on too many tasks can lead to feeling overwhelmed which then drains your passion and leaves you just “working”. We do so much more than just clock in and out each day.
Let’s be sure and care for our work. Let’s be sure to weed out those distractions. Learn to say “No”. Remember that the details make up the bigger picture. Stay focused on what we do, and that is to inspire people to live passionately for Jesus!
It All Takes Time
Proper timing makes all the difference when it comes to planting your garden. If you’re like me you want results today! If you’re like me you want to be finished with a project before the sun goes down. Radio is such a “right now / moment to moment” environment, but let’s be sure to remember that goals take time. Getting yourself rooted in the right soil takes time. Getting in the habit of caring for your work takes time, but it’s all worth the investment. I’ll leave it at this:
-Get rooted in the Word
-Grow what you love
-Don’t let it stress you out
-Enjoy the fruits of your labors
Jeremy Wolfe / Walk-FM
Who has ever heard the stigma, “HR works for the companies, and the companies only care about their company, so HR only cares about their company?”
Ok, that may be a little on the extreme, but let’s look at it this way …Who wakes up in the morning and gets all excited about needing to talk with HR or any other corporate representative?
Now I know that approximately zero people are going to believe me if I spend the next few minutes proclaiming to you that the stigma is wrong, that management and HR are here for you, because the company cares for you, and you should just take my word for it. Why? Well, because relationships don’t work that way. You can’t just declare that you care for someone and then be invisible when things go wrong and they need your help. That goes against the basic definition of the word “care”.
Over the last year, we have made the conscious decision to live the definition of “care” when it comes to our team members. How does that make us any different from every other company out there? The key is in the word “live”. There is a big difference between proclaiming and living. We are dedicating ourselves to proving our statements and the only way to prove your dedication is to be consistent to your word.
We all know that life isn’t perfect. No matter how much you plan ahead, something can always pop up and surprise you. I don’t know about you, but if life just threw me a curve ball, the last thing I would want to hear from someone is “policy this” or “policy that”. So what will we do when that inevitable moment arises when the “policy this” or “policy that” stands in the way?
Even if policy dictates “this is or isn’t allowed” or “only this or that can be done” there are ways we can assist our team members in finding solutions. How? Maybe there is a different benefit provided that, although it may not help with their primary concern, it may be able to assist with the effects it has on the other aspects of life. Maybe there is an outside organization with which we have a relationship and they can provide the assistance that the team member needs.
There is an endless number of ways to show team members that we care and I know we continue to grasp the challenge with both hands. I know that we take every opportunity on every day to dedicate our resources in a way that proves management and HR are here for you and the company cares for you.
Director of HR & Accounting Services
I’ll never forget the morning that Sam shared his testimony with me. I had just finished leading worship at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Parkersburg, WV when I noticed him walking towards the stage. I could tell by the intent look on his face that Sam had something he wanted to say to me. I was thinking “Did I say something Biblically incorrect? Did I get some lyrics wrong? Was my singing that bad?”
Sam introduced himself, thanked me for singing and for sharing my testimony. As he did he made mention that he really enjoys listening to Walk-fm. I was sure to let him know how much I appreciated the fact that he had heard of our radio station. We began to have a good conversation about ministry, the church, and Walk-fm. That’s when Sam’s demeanor totally changed. He began to speak about his marriage but was immediately cut off by the lump in his throat. He tried to get the words out but couldn’t. He was just too emotional. So here I am in front of this grown man I had just met and he is weeping. I struggled to find words of comfort but could only come up with “It’s ok. Whatever it is its ok.” After he collected himself and regained his composure I could finally understand what he was saying.
Sam had been married for 47 years to his wife, Kathy, but for the past 5 years they struggled with even being with each other. They argued constantly. They had financial issues. They even slept in separate bedrooms. Keep in mind that I had never met this guy, but here we stood having a conversation you would most likely hear in a counselors’ office…….or a courtroom. As I was thinking this very thought Sam floored me with his next statement. He said “I’m sorry to be telling you all of this, but I feel like I know you”. He said “I listen to Walk-fm every day, and every morning I hear your voice. Every day I listen to the songs you play and they speak to my situation”. I was taken back. This man from Parkersburg listens to our station every morning and God is using it to speak life and hope into his life. But nothing could’ve prepared me for what he said next. “Jeremy”, he said “I am so thankful for what you do because my God used your station to heal our marriage”. Sam explained how one morning he heard “Restore” followed by “Waiting forTomorrow” and in that moment made up his mind that God can be in control of his finances. He told me of how he decided then that God can have authority over his life. Even in his marriage.
That day as I was driving home from Parkersburg I kept praising God for working in spite of me. I had a lot of time to think about how God had used Walk-fm to restore a marriage and to rebuild a person’s heart. I also started to think about the details.
You know when we think of radio we usually think of “On-Air” stuff. Now we know that’s not all there is to it, but what if we didn’t strive to do our best in the small things. What if contracts hadn’t been prepared properly? What if someone didn’t keep up w budgets? What if we didn’t give it all we have to make sure our
stations stay on the air and a part of the community? If one little bolt falls out of my car’s engine it could stop the entire car from performing.
You see every little detail is important so in all you do give it your best. When you ask yourself “is what I’m doing important” remember that there may be a “Sam” out there listening.
Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you. Because It All Matters.