Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it.
Think in Steps
No matter what kind of leadership you exercise or what kind of ministry you’re involved in, because of the constancy and busyness of life, it’s very easy to get focussed exclusively on getting the next event organised and executed. Especially if you’ve got a regular, consecutive program such as a church service every Sunday that needs to be organised. The focus can become simply getting the next event in the program accomplished.
And the natural corollary from this is that the main goal becomes getting people to be at the next event in the program. And the aim you have for your people is that they would be faithfully committed to attend your program and be at the next event in that program.
Now there’s nothing wrong with hoping and having people faithfully committed to attending your program in and of itself. But the kind of thinking that thinks exclusively or primarily in terms of programs is dangerous. And the kind of thinking that’s highest aim for people is that they attend the program is thinking that aims too low. We need to love people better than that.
Rather than thinking programs we need to be thinking steps.
Jesus’ desire for people is not ultimately that they attend our program. And the job Jesus gave me is not ultimately that I would get people to attend my program. Those might be good means to an end, but they’re not the ultimate aim. And sometimes they might not even be a good means to an end.
As we looked at last time, form follows function. You run programs because they help you achieve your goals. The goals are primary, the programs are secondary. The goals are the main game. And that means you need to break down your goal/s into steps that people would take to get from where they are to where they need to be.
For Christian ministry and Christian leadership that means we want to make disciples who are totally devoted to Jesus and totally competent to go make more disciples. What steps might be required to get people there? That’s the question that needs to be asked. So instead of that being the first question, we often ask, “What programs don’t we have?” That’s, at best, a second tier question.
In fact, a better way to ask that question is, “To help someone take this next step along the path, is a program the best way to help that happen? And if so, what would the program look like?” It’s all about thinking in steps, and those times when you do think about programs the thinking more often than not should still be within the context of the steps needed.
And then as you reflect on your ministries and programs designed to help people along the path toward the goal, you should be asking questions like, “Is the distance between Step A and Step B too big? Is it a big jump for people to go from here to there? Is it too big for most people? Do we need to put another step in there? If so, is a program the best way to help people?”
And every step or every program or every event needs, “What next?” asked of it. Where do we want people to go next? After someone comes to this event where do they need to go next? What step do they need to take? How will we help them get there? What do we need to tell them? How will they know? Otherwise people will come to the event but will have a hard time getting traction and direction on how they can keep moving forward towards where they need to be.
People who think mainly in terms of programs are focussed on getting the event accomplished and finished as best as they can. People who think mainly in terms of steps are focussed on what needs to happen next to help people keep moving forward.
Think mainly in steps not programs.