Michael Hyatt recently featured a guest blog post from J. D. Meier entitled 10 Proven Practices for More Productive Leadership. While Meier’s practices target a marketplace audience, I think they are applicable to the ministry leader as well. In yesterday’s post I offered the first five keys; today I will finish with the last five…
6. Focus on outcomes, not activities. Getting lost in the production is a sure path to missing the desired outcome. Take programs, for instance. Churches are full of them and some have become the equivalent of the sacred cow. If the desired outcome of a particular program is to encourage spiritual formation, but the people involved are stressed out, angry, and frustrated…well, it’s missed the mark. To refuse to let the program die is to allow activity to take precedence over outcome.
7. Pick a theme or focus for the year. Meier suggests doing this for the month, but in the life of church ministry, a year may be more practical. I once spent a year with my adult discipleship team simply focusing on spiritual formation. We worked on a common understanding of formation, what contributes to it and what does not, how we could develop programs that would encourage the congregation towards deeper formation.
8. Ask better questions. As we talk with others about their unique design for ministry, we want to cultivate the habit of asking open-ended, non-directive questions that will guide people to the answers they have within themselves. When dealing with ministry, we need to ask questions that will get at the real problem, need, or issue (see key #1). I love Meier’s suggestion of asking, “What does success look like?” It’s a great catalyst for visioning!
9. Get their fingerprints on it. My favorite art activity as a child was finger painting. I loved the experience of using my hands rather than a paintbrush to create a colorful masterpiece! For whatever reason, those paintings felt like a truer expression of me. Same holds true for ministry today. When I can get my hands on it and in it, I’m much more motivated. I take ownership and truly care about the outcome. I want to offer that same experience to those I lead, which creates significant buy-in.
10. Focus on “good enough for now”. Two key points to this one: “good enough” and “for now.” Perfectionism is a real joy-stealer. It’s often unobtainable, and so it flings wide the door to discouragement. The Amish are known for their exquisite quilts, yet it is said that even the finest of their quilts will have a mistake in it. How? The quilter will intentionally (if necessary) make a mistake because they profess that nothing is perfect except God. That said, I’ve learned from my own quilting experiences that I can take what was “good enough for now” and learn how to improve it the next time.
As with the Meier’s original post, I encourage you to make a checklist of these 10 keys for yourself. We all know that checklists are useful only when they are consulted, so put it where you will see it regularly. Pick one thing at a time to work on…and, when you’ve noted some improvement, practice key #10 and move on to the next one!