Okay, I said it…I’ve got issues. Now it’s your turn…Alright, let me ask it more delicately: Do you lead your teams as if you have no issues, no personal problems, no difficulties in your life, and no doubts in your faith. If you answered honestly to the question above, then you’ve got issues.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but leadership involves a measure of transparency. If you busy yourself with theatrical perfection, eventually, you will miss a mark or forget a line. The surf/skate culture has been kind enough to give us a term for that kind of person: a poser.
What I’m not saying is that we throw Romans 11 out the door. We must lead knowing with certainty that he is in all and through all. What I am saying, however, is that you will endear yourself to your teams if you risk a bit of honesty. Is the goal to be endeared by the team, no. But, to be a fruit-bearing leader that is laying out vision he/she wants the team to give their to, they need to like you a little bit :).
Proverbs 26:12 reminds us that we aren’t supposed to have it all together.
Do you see man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Take a brief minute today and examine your heart. Are you a leader who is always right? Are you burning energy concealing weakness? Put Christ on display in your leadership today. Admit that you need him to come through. High-level leadership is no place for posers, just men and women who are also in process.
2 Timothy 2:15 & 4:2
The final entry in this Root to Fruit series is my favorite because the visual illustration is so strong to me. We come to the final idea in what it means to be a leader who produces fruit, through inspired vision, solid systems, and precise execution.
Imagine with me a scene from your favorite medieval movie…or something close to it. No really, townspeople with bad teeth, suits of armor, long flowing dresses, and green tights. Got it? Okay. Now look at the ubiquitous archery target that always seem to show up in these movies. See the bull’s eye? You’ve seen it before. The one guy gets up, aims, hits bull’s-eye to the cheers of the unwashed masses. Then, the next guy (or girl) takes aim, and in a moment of over-electrified drama, the loosed arrow also finds it mark. But not just its own mark, the mark made by the other guy…no really…it hits the first arrow in the feathered end and splits it to splinters! The exact same spot. The ultimate dark ages “in your face” moment.
Thanks for indulging me on that little romp. Lets look at two things that just occurred and apply them to what we are discussing about leadership.
If given the right conditions, practice, distance, bow, and size of target, almost anyone can hit a bull’s-eye. It happens by accident on dartboards and archery ranges around the world. Somebody has probably hit one since you started reading.
However, the thing that separates the pros from the lucky is being able to hit that bull’s-eye in succession. The first shot is called an accurate, the second shot, if also in the bull’s-eye is called a precise. The true leader understands the difference between accuracy and precision.
Paul tells Timothy to handle God’s word with accuracy.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB)
The word “orthotomounta” rendered as “accurately” in the New American Standard Version doesn’t have its roots in archery…but go with me for a minute.
In English, the stretch is easy…Paul tells Timothy to get it right, hit the center, find the mark as he handles God’s word.
In 4:2 he tells him to be ready to preach the word in season and out of season. The Greek rendering says literally “seasonly” and “unseasonly.”
The two directives combine to form a beautiful image of leading accurately, but also leading with precision. As a leader, it is one thing to get it right when the weather is clear. It’s quite another thing to get it right in the blinding blizzard of the urgent.
The fruit-producing question then is: are you a leader who not only seeks the center of the target, but longs for repeatability? You realize your team is watching right? You realize your customers and vendors are watching right? Do you get it right some of the time, or strive to get it right all the time?
Executing with precision means not only getting it right once. It means getting it right the next 500 times you do it. The great leaders know repeatability or reproducibility. Great leaders inject trust into their teams with good planning consistent execution. Give your leadership to Jesus. Do what you do, through His power, with a mind and heart that desires to lead consistently, from a place of confidence, knowing He is guiding your arrow home.
In this short series, we are talking about producing fruit as leaders and as a team, through inspired vision, solid systems, and precise execution. Lets go deeper into the notion of what it means to develop solid systems.
Earlier I referenced my Floridian upbringing when talking about growing up around orange groves. Another…more freaky… feature of Florida living that is that at any given time your house can suddenly disappear in what is known as a “sinkhole.” (It took them countless meetings on that name I’m sure) On a recent evening in the Tampa area, a dude was lying in his bed, minding his own business, and the foundation beneath his bedroom literally caved in. In seconds, he was sucked down to his death like the scene from Return of the Jedi. His roommate got to the door only to discover a sandy pit where his friend’s room used to be.
In a sentence, sinkholes occur in Florida because most of the state rests on ancient coral reef structures with sand piled on the top. Think of the ground beneath Florida as onegigantic piece of Swiss cheese. When it decides to cave in, the residents have problems.
I use this illustration not to minimize this poor guy’s death, but to describe a key factor in the fruit-bearing journey. As a leader, you have most likely experienced that sinking feeling that comes with system failure: shortness of breath, fits of rage, the sudden desire to fillet a teammate.
Proverbs 6 points leaders toward diligence. In the previous entry we talked about waiting on His vision to fill your heart before you make a move. Once you get the vision, once you get that calling, it is game time. Proverbs 6 instructs us to:
"Go to the ant, O sluggard and consider her ways; and be wise"
By now you should know that ants are the poster children for diligence and persistence. We won’t spend time unpacking the image here, but let it suffice to say, God instructs us to look at natural systems and be wise. This is a part of his beautiful “general revelation” we are a witness to on a daily basis.
2 quick thoughts on good systems and process development:
1. You took Algebra for such a time as this. Remember the importance of the “order of operations.” It can make or break your projects. Spend time on the architecture of your decisions and how you are allocating resources, both human and otherwise, to do the work. If your processes look like a big smelly block of Swiss cheese, you and your team will consistently miss steps along the way that can cause your mission to implode.
2. Clean house. Everybody needs a good junk drawer. I purposefully allow my desk drawer to be a catchall. However, when your workspace becomes your catch all area, chances are, you are going to miss a step inside one of your systems. Okay, I made a big leap there. Let me explain. A smart guy told me that our desktop and our minds are directly linked. As one becomes messier, the other becomes messier also. If you are buried underneath piles of stuff you need to get through and feel terrible about it, clean house, break the self-shaming cycle, and get back to work. By spreading your mental RAM across a crazy workspace, your are more likely to cave in the middle of something important.
Great leaders understand the importance of great systems. Where I work, we are often told that planning creates freedom. Whether you are swinging a bat, leading worship, selling cars, arguing a case, designing a building, repairing equipment, or doing your taxes…devise systems that keep you moving toward the vision God has given you in your heart.
Be creative! Be diligent! Be wise!
So…I’m an idea guy. I admit it. Half of my mental processing power is taken up by discrete processes running in the background. If I go unchecked, I have a tendency to be in about five different places at once. I think the doctor called it A.D.D. or something…I don’t know…I wasn’t paying attention. :) Whatever it is, I call it normal.
Life in in my twenties was one unending rampage of furious idea development. On my best day, my mind would be activated by a God-given thought that would flourish. On my worst day, I would tinker with explosive vision that would frequently detonate in my face. I would also wear myself out with pointless trajectories. Namely, I would be so intent on “aiming my actions” to produce some desired outcome out in my view of the future. That is the part of youth and self-centered planning that will steal your energy. Every time Pastor Gregg reminds us to live a life that requires God, I am reminded of how hard I worked it.
From the previous entry, we understand that we are to be fruit bearing leaders, following Christ on the journey from root to fruit. There are three ideas I would like to briefly introduce in this and two subsequent entries. Those ideas are: Inspired Vision, Solid Systems, and Precise Execution. Each of these ideas highlight the point of origination we referred to in part one. They form a great “team theme” that helps us clearly focus on producing fruit as leaders and as a team, through inspired vision, solid systems, and precise execution.
Acts 16: 6-10 is a great New testament example of how God will drop vision on you like a ton of bricks if you have a listening ear.
“During the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
I love the fact that the vision came at night. I can’t help but think that Paul’s body was still from the day and God chose that moment to communicate with him. I also like the word “concluding” (sumbibazontes-together stepping) used here. Paul got the vision and they “together stepped” from there to the mission in Macedonia.
The root of fruit comes from vision that is given by God alone. Leadership means listening.Usually, God lets me think my ideas just popped into my head. He is funny like that. Stop trying to force it. Stop trying aim your life and actions in some perfect trajectory so that you’ll achieve what you think will make you and your team happy and successful. Be still and let Him drop vision on you. Then, you and your team can “together step” toward truly fruitful outcomes that matter.