Do You Have An Eye for Detail?

A small bottle containing urine sat upon the desk of Sir William Osler, the eminent professor of medicine at Oxford University.  Sitting before him was a class full of young, wide-eyed medical students, listening to his lecture on the importance of observing details.  To emphasize his point, he announced: "This bottle contains a sample for analysis.  It's often possible by tasting it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers."

He then dipped a finger into the fluid and brought it into his mouth.  He continued speaking: "Now I am going to pass the bottle around.  Each of you please do exactly as I did.  Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case."

The bottle made its way from row to row, each student gingerly poking his finger in and bravely sampling the contents with a frown.  Dr. Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students by saying, "Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details.  Had you been observant, you would have seen that I put my index finger in the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth."

Do you have an eye for details?  Answer these questions...
  • Do you know if there are any lights out in your children's area?
  • Were there any typos put on screen last week?
  • If you promised to take care of something for one of your volunteers, did you do it?
  • Were all phone calls returned within 24 hours?
  • Do you know if there are any spots on the walls that need painted?  
  • Do you know if your brochure holders are filled?
  • Do you notice trash on the ground and pick it up no matter how small it is?
  • Are your chairs in a straight row?
  • Do you notice when a check-in or pick-up line is backing up in your preschool area and do something about it?
  • Do you notice when signage needs to be updated or changed?
  • Do you notice when traffic flow needs to be adjusted in your hallways?
Some people have a natural bent toward seeing the details.  But even if you don't, it can be a learned skill.  Here's some ways to improve your eye for detail.
  1. Carry a note card with you on weekends and force yourself to jot down at least five details that need to be improved.
  2. Walk with your team through your children's areas and make a list of details that need to be improved. 
  3. Personally go through your children's areas solo and make a list of details that need to be fixed or changed as possible.  Then invite someone who has an excellent eye for details to do the same thing.  Compare your list to his/hers.  What did you miss?  What do you need to pay more attention to?
  4. Ask volunteers to look for details and share them with you.  What did they see that you missed?
  5. Make a list of details that you check on a regular basis.
  6. Train yourself to read slowly and catch typos.
Details. The quality of your Children's Ministry depends on your ability to notice and care for them.  You's the little details, done consistently, that make the big difference.