Developing people

On Sunday mornings I run. First I run outside, a couple miles to get awake. Then I run at church, answering questions, troubleshooting the kinds of problems that occur when several hundred people of all ages gather in large and small groups in a 100,000 square foot facility.

Teachers need technology, people need conversation, rooms need heating and cooling.

One Sunday morning was particularly frantic. I tried to figure out what was happening to my attention. I realized that I was spending a lot of time fixing technology. I think I said it out loud. “I’ve got to stop fixing technology.”

IMG_0208Somehow, that started me thinking about what happens with my attention. After a bit of reflection over the next couple days, I arrived at a grid. Across the top, put “develop” and “fix”. These are two broad categories of tasks I perform. Across the side, put “people” and “technology.” These are two broad categories of things I work with.

Now we can talk about four things I do: Fix technology, develop technology, fix people, develop people.

Suddenly, these four items helped me understand a lot about my attention flow and priorities. The parts of my brain that work well with fixing technology (getting an iPad to connect to the network, to Apple TV, and to a monitor) aren’t necessarily the same as the parts that work well with developing people. In fact, when the class starts in 5 minutes and I’m trying to solve the connection issue, I guarantee that I lose the capacity to listen attentively to the heart of a person in the class.

What was even more clarifying was a description of what pastor and teachers are called to do. “Equip the saints for works of service,” Paul says. Focus on developing people, says my grid.


2 thoughts on “Developing people

  1. Bill Hanifin

    Jon, Unless you are more of a techie than I am led to believe, I am guessing that you are more a fixer of technology than a developer. With people, the opposite might be true. I’ll be you are a tremendous developer of people, but think the “fixing” needs to be left to our Lord. Maybe that’s all good news 🙂 as you only have to think about operating in 2 quadrants on the grid instead of 4 !!!

    Thanks for another thoughtful post.


    1. Jon Swanson

      hmm. that’s a good thought. When I think of developing technology, I think infrastructures. At least around me. But maybe, I’m not as capable of doing that as I lead myself to believe. I need to reflect on that more. Thanks!

      On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 9:19 AM, 300 words a day wrote:



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