Jigsaw Leadership


I don’t like to do puzzles.

It’s not that I can’t do them, it’s just that I’m not particularly fond of the feeling you get when you finally get those thousand pieces together… and then have to put them all back in the box. I tend to dislike the reality of having nothing to show for hours of my effort.

Recently, my two-year-old son Gavin developed a new fascination with puzzles. His are much simpler with much less effort involved. So I’ve suddenly reentered the world of puzzles and I’m actually enjoying it more than I thought. But what I’ve realized in revisiting this old hobby is that I never actually left it.

Leading a creative arts team is a lot like sitting down to do a puzzle. Other organizations or other ministries of a church fit much easier into the standard business model of leadership. Just have everyone read the 17 laws of something and everything will run as it should.

Not so with creatives. The biggest challenge of leading the worship arts team at our church is how different everyone is. This means that they often interact unexpectedly with one another, it means that I have to continually rebuild our team structure and systems to leverage their unique strengths, it also means that I must be constantly tailoring my own leadership to encourage them and to see them fulfill their potential. I recently made two of my team members perform a dramatic reading of a Dr. Seuss book as punishment for a missed deadline. You can watch it here: http://tomorrowsreflection.com/best-idea/

The biggest pleasant surprise has been how much fun it is to lead a team like this. We recently did a teaching series on the Hall of Faith from Hebrews chapter eleven. To kick off each of the messages we created a video series called the “Not so Hall of Faith.” All seven of the videos consisted of action figures with voiceovers… and a lot of violence.

Not only were these videos a huge success—people literally applauded after each one—they were also unbelievably fun for our team to make. I noticed how everyone seemed to ratchet up the teamwork and go above and beyond his or her role to make the videos amazing. You can watch a three-minute behind the scenes video of us making it here: http://www.centralaz.com/blog/hall-of-faith-outtakes

Like a puzzle, you have to figure out a strategy to get the most out of your team. Whereas I always start with the edges first on a puzzle, I often have to find those guide rails with my team to put in place so that I can focus the group’s collective creativity. Oftentimes this means that I have to be the bad guy saying no to an idea (I once denied the purchase of a ukulele and you would have thought I stopped loving Jesus). This is usually balanced by the end result when they see their creativity go from some cloud in the sky to an actual, practical success story.

Unlike a puzzle, putting together the pieces and leading our creative team is unbelievably fulfilling. It stretches my emotions, my logic, and my sheer determination at times. But I never have to worry about a boring day at the office.

Jeremy is a second generation preacher with a passion for discovering and communicating truth. He is married to Michelle and they have two sons named Gavin and Madsen. He serves as the Worship Arts Pastor at Central Christian Church.
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  • Matt

    I couldn’t agree more… the “finding the edges” analogy is great. One of the biggest challenges of leading in ministry seems to be defining where your involvement is NOT going to go, before attacking what you will do!