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6 Essentials of Leadership - Part 6 - ACTION

Your only way forward requires action

Dreamers dream about it, talkers talk about it, leaders do it!

I don’t know about you, but I love a good conference. The opportunity to take some time away from the busyness of everyday ministry and get alongside like-minded youth leaders, to share ideas, pray together and encourage one another. Love it.

Because we youth leaders are great talkers, right? Get us together and we can easily spend hours sharing stories, wrestling with the challenges we face in youth ministry and discussing the ever-changing landscape of youth culture - and that’s great! But with that comes a potential danger…

If we’re not careful, we can spend so much time talking about it that we convince ourselves we have actually done something about it! But talking about it and acting upon it is not the same thing. Not even close.

Leadership is primarily expressed in behaviours. Leaders function, leaders do, leaders act. Leaders take hold of the reigns and drive change. Leaders don’t just have great ideas, they make ideas happen.

My office is based at the head office of the Elim Pentecostal Church (where I have the great privilege of serving as the director of youth ministry for the movement).

Each year all our staff go though an appraisal where we are asked to consider a hugely revealing question, a question that I encourage every reader to spend a few moments reflecting on today: ‘Describe how your work has brought about actual change in your department in the past 12 months.’

Not, ‘what great ideas did you have?’ Not, ‘what did you spend time talking about?’ Not, ‘what did you dream about making happen?’ But ‘what has actually happened in the last 12 months as a result of your leadership?’ Brilliant.

Great leaders are disposed towards doing, they are action-oriented. We find this Essential at the tip of the triangle intentionally (see diagram above), because this is the quality that gives the leader their sharp edge. It is what empowers them to cut through whirlwind of everyday life and enable progress.

If you lead a team, be they volunteers or otherwise, you know first hand the value of action-oriented people. This is why North Point Community Church have developed a principal they adhere to when hiring new staff: ‘Recruit Doers, Not Thinkers.’

Their Lead Pastor Andy Stanley defends this policy, explaining, “it is much easier to educate a doer than to activate a thinker. You can hire the thinkers on a short term basis but you really need the doers in order to start to get the work done … I don’t need people who are going to just think about doing something, I need people who are just going to do it.”

Now let me be clear. I am not for a moment suggesting that we don’t take time to talk, to think and to dream - far from it. But I am saying that leadership doesn’t allow us to only do those things. Leadership lands ideas in action and makes dreams a reality. Dreamers dream about it, talkers talk about it, leaders do it!

Yet all this comes with a rather large, very important, caveat. Whilst I strongly believe that the bias towards action is an essential for every leader, it can quickly become destructive if not rooted in the private foundations we described in previous articles.

When our activism is not rooted in our relationship with God, we begin to define ourselves by our accomplishments; our achievements become our identity; our work for God starts to become a substitute for actually knowing God; and doing more for him becomes easier than spending time with him.

We mistakenly confuse motion with progress, and misinterpret our busyness as fruitfulness. So what we are aiming for is the whole triangle together, not individual elements of it. This is what Peter Scazzero describes as a “contemplative activism,” where our doing for God flows out of our being with God.

So with all that said, leader, go lead! Don’t put off until tomorrow what God has called you to do today. Don’t allow apathy, or procrastination, or the fear of failure, or the pursuit of perfection, to prevent you from taking action today. Jump in. Because dreamers dream about it, talkers talk about it, but leaders do it!

Questions for reflection:

  • What has happened, started or changed because of my leadership in the last 12 months?
  • Do I usually have to be asked to do something; or do I have the initiative to notice and attitude that compels me to do something about it without being asked?
  • Am I slow to complain about what I can’t control and quick to improve upon what I can influence?
  • Do I deliver on deadlines (both self-set and assigned) on time, every time?
  • Am I content to leave things as they are when I can perceive a way to make them better?

 

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