It is surprising when a bank makes you say, “Wow!” I recently stumbled across the story of the genesis and growth of Umqua Bank in the Pacific Northwest. It is a fascinating saga about how ‘being the most’ brings out the ‘wow.’ As customers enter this bank they are greeted with, ‘Welcome to the World’s Greatest Bank, how can I help you?’ When Ray Davis took the helm at Umqua Bank in 1994 he focused on the belief that the difference in the future would be in HOW their bank offered the same products every other bank offered. Davis had a conviction - You have to be the most of something: the most elegant, the most colorful, the most responsive, or the most focused. Just pick your ‘most’ and then as a bank let’s become a passion brand in an industry that is famously void of passion. For Davis it was not enough to participate in the banking industry, he wanted to be different and distinct. So, this has been the Umqua way for more than two decades and their thirty-fold growth since 1994 indicates the power of a passion for being “the most” different, distinct, and dedicated bank around.
I have been wondering in recent days, what if we as church leaders set our sights on being the most of what matters most to the fulfillment of our mission in the world? As church leaders we often wrestle with the question, how do we motivate and mobilize a group of people to engage in the best way possible? What if the best approach is to make our own actions our first and best point of instruction. The best way to help people be their best is to give them an undeniable example of what it is to ‘be the most’ of that attitude or action.
For a leader who desires to see a team of excellence, positivity, respect, and risk taking the best approach is for that leader to ‘be the most’ excellent, positive, respectful and risk taking. For the pastor who longs to see his or her staff and congregation ‘notice the newcomer’ the best instruction is the action of that pastor in ‘being the most’ aware and engaged with newcomers whenever they cross his or her path. For the youth leader who seeks to shape a culture of full hearted engagement it is best to save your breath on the pep talk and simply ‘be the most’ engaged when any youth event or gathering occurs. Only then do you pull out the pep talk because you have something tangible to point to – your own commitment to be the most of what you are asking others to be.
Be the most of whatever you say your values are and see what happens.
What are your thoughts on this challenge to “be the most” . . . ?