Often times in ministry we can experience a cloud of confusion rolling over our best laid plans and strategies. It seemed as though everyone was on the same page at one point, but maybe it doesn’t’ look so much like it now.
Have you ever experienced that feeling? Maybe you have had several meetings on an issue and felt like the direction was clear only to find out it wasn’t. Chances are if you have ever had this experience it is because the description of “success” had not been clearly defined for the issue.
Example: How we describe success matters – You invited 20 of your friends to a race this Saturday around your neighborhood, and let them know that the winner would receive a great prize at the finish line. – If that is all the specific information you convey, you have just set yourself up for some unmet expectations and disappointment.
Some of those friends might of assumed you meant a bike race, so they brought their bike, others – running on foot, others – walking, others in their car. Also, your idea of a great prize, might be not so great, to your potential winners after all because it didn’t meet their preconceived expectations of “great”. Typically without extreme and specific clarity of definition, imagination paints a very different picture of process and ultimately success.
If you want a specific type of success to be achieved you must be very specific in describing what it would take to be successfull. Leave nothing in the description to chance and nothing to remain unclear.
As a team you will have to communicate as to what level you have to go into specifics for each project or process. Defining success should not be a practice in hand cuffing your ministry teams or boxing them in. It should, in fact free them up to reach that target in the best way as their skills allow because it gives them the necessary information to formulate a best case scenario solution within defined boundaries.
As a team discuss the following questions:
- Describe a time in the recent past when we failed to properly define what success would look like with complete clarity?
- What effect did that lack of clarity have on the team?
- What effect did that lack of clarity have on the project or process?
- What are some ways that we could do a better job of defining success as a team?
- How will we strike the right balance of clear direction and freedom to reach success by using our individual gifts?
- Is there a project or process on the table right now that we need to define success for, more clearly?
- How do we achieve consistent clarity and clear definition in our creative process?
- What new habits can we create that will keep us more focused on clarity in defining success?
By addressing these issues – before the race begins – your outcomes will be much more on target and in full alignment with expectations.
So I will start the discussion by asking you the first question – “Describe a time in the recent past when you failed to properly define what success would look like with complete clarity?”
With so much talk about leadership, with so many books written, with such a focus on the concepts and ideas surrounding leadership – you would think that the simple definition of the term is clear. However, where there is a diversity of individuals, there will be a diversity of ideas and definitions concerning leadership and the role it plays in ministry. The following exercise will help you determine the current underlying definition and mindset of your team concerning leadership and the responsibilities and desired outcomes associated with it.
1. First, On a whiteboard or piece of paper write down the word “Leadership”.
- Ask the team to fill in the blank in the following question and ask for as many responses as possible from each person in attendance and write down each response on the board.
- The most effective leaders _________________. – (You should get a large variety of answers, the more the better.)
2. Now, when you feel like possibilities are exhausted, write two heading statements on the board or paper. Character Trait and Action Oriented.
- As you look over the responses given, label each one appropriately. An example of each would be “The most effective leaders are humble.” (Character Trait) or “The most effective leaders provide direction.” (Action Oriented). You may simply mark each to the side with a “C” or an “A” as determined or relist them under each heading.
3. Now that the answers are segregated, ask the following question,
- Which of theses responses would be required of an effective leader to truly lead well?
- Then, go through and mark through the responses that a leader would not necessarily have to possess to lead. For example, a leader does not have to be humble to lead. It is better if he is, but not absolutely necessary. Case in point, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump or even Hitler.
What you will discover through the process is that, primarily a leader must be action and results oriented to truly lead well. At a base level positive character traits are icing on the cake, but not necessary for leadership. That is an unfortunate reality, but a reality none the less. So often in ministry we choose leaders in response to their outstanding character and not on their ability to produce action and results. Obviously in the context of ministry the role that character plays is paramount in filling roles within our ministries. I am not suggesting that results trumps character. A healthy God directed balance must be achieved. However, this exercises will reveal, that if you are filling a true ministry leadership position, then character alone is not enough. The candidate must also be able to produce action and results to truly lead.
Not seeing this reality is how leadership teams find themselves filled with team members who are great people who everyone loves – that unfortunately, months or years down the road, it is revealed by lack of positive results that they never never really do what it takes to lead.
This exercise can be a powerful insight into the preconceived ideas of what leadership looks like to ourselves and our teams. Be prepared for a deconstruction and reconstruction of thought and a lively discussion.