What Are Your Lids?

I’ve been getting up at 4:30 AM the last couple of weeks to spend quiet, uninterrupted time writing and editing my past Fertilizers.

I’m putting them into a book to publish. You’ll notice this is the 233rd Fertilizer I’ve written. I started in 2009.

I’m going through each one and painstakingly and cruelly editing them. Well, that’s a bit dramatic, and it’s pretty enjoyable to do. I cringe occasionally, but I like revisiting most of what I’m seeing. And some of it I just love!

But I’m not doing it alone. For a mere $139 per year, I’ve hired Grammarly to help me improve my writing skills. Ok, so it’s just an app that scores your document, finds errors, and makes suggestions. But it’s making me a better writer. (See, I usually would’ve written, “It’s actually making me a better writer,” but I’m used to Grammarly telling me that “actually” is overused or unnecessary.)

Turns out, I have a problem with creating tautologies. A tautology is when you say the same thing twice. Like “My own life,” or “he always over-exaggerates.” or “I want to see him personally.”

I
 also say “that” a lot. So after I’ve gone through the whole document, I search for instances of the word “that” and try to reword the sentences.

I like to add “just” to things. Not quite as often as your average twenty-something in their prayers, but… And Grammarly knows just how to make me change it. The prompt asks, “Do you want to sound more confident?” Ugh! Of course, I do, so I remove it. (See, there’s no “just” before “remove”?)

There’s a cool feature that grades your paper with a classic 0-100 score. Most of the Fertilizers start with a score in the 80’s, and I love working the post until it scores s99 or 100. It’s a little game I play.

Here’s how you can use this.

With the Great Reset we’re experiencing, take some time (get up early if necessary) and evaluate your leadership skill.

  • Think about your interactions with team members and ponder how you can improve them.
  • Imagine yourself as an unchurched person or a new believer and listen to the things you say on the live stream.
  • Watch it again with no audio and look for your physical quirks.
  • Send the link to another worship leader and ask them to (lovingly) tell you two things they like and two things you could improve.
  • If you can listen back one track at a time, solo your instrument and check for sloppiness or a lack of musicality.
  • Think of a change you’ve wanted to make. What’s stopping it? How is the way you lead, contributing to the delay?
  • Read (or re-read) John Maxwell’s classic The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership book.
  • Sign up for a free coaching session to finally find out what they are like
  • Do an audit of your songs. Find the ones you’ve only scheduled once in the past year and consider removing them. By looking at the top five songs you’ve led, what is the general theme you seem to go back to? (And here’s the most valuable question: why is that theme central for you?)


Make a game out of it. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Work to be better.


Maxwell’s first law, the Law of the Lid, states: “
leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential.”

This means you want to work to “raise your lid” or take off the limits you’ve place on yourself. You may be a fantastic musician, but if you can’t lead people, you won’t be a very effective worship leader. You might love people, but if you don’t know how to create change, your effectiveness is capped. You might have significant energy and ambition, but if you don’t understand the principles of leadership, it will just frustrate you!

I’m NOT saying you have “all this time since you’re just sitting at home doing nothing because of the quarantine!” You might have to join me in getting up extra early for things that matter. :)

- Dave
ps. Full disclosure: Grammarly found 28 necessary changes in this Fertilizer...so, we all have a ways to go! :)