7 Markers of a Great Leader

There are some characteristics which set a great leader apart from mediocre leaders. Markers, if you will.

Great leaders are multidimensional. While continuing to improve, great leaders have achieved certain characteristics which help them achieve success.

If you see these qualities combined, you’ve probably found an amazing leader.

Here are 7 marks of a great leader:

Humility. Great leaders are willing to surrender “their” way when it’s not the best way. They realize and appreciate the strength of a team.

Intentionality. Great leaders continue to learn. They have mentors. They read. They continue their education through conferences or school. They know they can’t help others grow if they aren’t personally growing.

Compassion. Great leaders consider the needs of others ahead of their own. They care about people beyond what people can do for them personally.

Integrity. Great leaders never separate character from their definition of quality or success. They know there can be nothing of real value if those who are trying to follow can’t give their respect to the leader.

Passion. Great leaders have the ability to rally a team and articulate the path to victory. They can communicate to spur momentum and garner support.

Vision. Great leaders see things others can’t see or, for whatever reason failed to pursue. They take people where they need to go, but may be afraid to go on their own.

Strength. Great leaders have the discipline to follow through on commitments. They weather the storms of time. They are still standing firm when others are dropping out of the race.

I’m not claiming all great leaders excel in each of these areas. And, I am certainly not saying I have these markers, but I do believe there should be a certain level of accomplishment, a progression towards each of these in a leader’s life. At the very least, a desire to achieve these markers should be a goal of great leaders.

10 Ways to Keep the “Favorite” Pastor Hat

I read somewhere leadership expert Peter Drucker once said the hardest jobs in America (not necessarily in order) are President of the United States, university presidents, hospital administrators and pastors. I don’t know about most of those, but I talk to struggling pastors weekly. I can believe it makes the list.

Having been in the business and political worlds, and now as a pastor, I have a unique perspective. I can definitely say the hardest job I’ve ever done is being a pastor.

Yet every pastor I know wants to do a good job. They want to be successful in their Kingdom-building efforts. At the same time, they also want to be liked. No one likes to be unpopular. (Frankly, the desire to be so can even be the detriment in a pastor leading well.)

I was actually talking recently with another pastor how hard it is to pastor effectively and make everyone happy. He admitted he was a people-pleaser and I was telling him how impossible this will be long term. To illustrate the point in a humorous way, we began to cite examples of ways to keep people happy. It triggered this post.

So let me say this is written sarcastically. On purpose. Sometimes it’s easier to say the hard stuff if I say it in a humorous way. (Or at least what I think is funny.)

There are some serious issues addressed here that many pastors face. But, after all, I want to be the favorite pastor too, so I’m keeping it lighthearted in my approach.

In fairness, I serve in a healthy, supportive church. Most of what I write now is to support other pastors who may not be. 

Here are 10 ways to remain favorite pastor:

Never turn down a social invitation – Sacrifice your family time. Sacrifice any actual Sabbath. (That command applies to your church, you should teach it, but you’re exempt.) By the way, it might ruin your family dynamic but you’ll keep the church happy.

Don’t talk about money – Jesus never did, right? Don’t be meddling in people’s business.

Never mention sex – Good Christians don’t. They just don’t. They don’t even think about it.

Stick to the sins everyone else is doing – Stick to things which the world is struggling with – outside the church. Don’t mention things like gossip or gluttony. Those hit too close to home.

Don’t challenge anyone. – People don’t want their toes stepped on and definitely don’t want to leave with homework. Don’t make them think how the message impacts them after they leave.

Preach “feel good” messages. – Tell them things like God is going to keep their life problem-free and how they can name it and claim it.

Wear the right clothes – Dress like Jesus did, right?

Don’t mess with traditions – Especially the ones which were started by pastor so and so. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And, it ain’t broke if they are still comfortable with it.

Play everyone’s favorite music – Every Sunday. (You miracle worker.)

Don’t lead – just preach – Give your “best” message every Sunday, and don’t take people anywhere new. Change is never popular.

On a serious note – pastoring is a tough job, but remember, our calling is not to be popular. It’s to be obedient. And, not to a crowd, but to a King.

And, when we are obedient, it’s the best job ever! (Every job is when we are in the center of His will.)

Ever tried to be a favorite pastor? Do you have any you’d add?

You’ve Been Fired from the Pastorate – What Now?

7 Suggestions

I’m at that point in my ministry where I feel like I’d rather cut grass for a living than serve Christ as a preacher of His gospel. That’s just not healthy. But that’s where I am.

Wow! I’ll never forget receiving this text from a young pastor. A few  deacons had asked him to “consider” resigning or they would bring a vote before the church.

In my opinion they didn’t have the guts to actually fire him. They know they probably didn’t have enough votes at the church level. But, he loves the church, and didn’t want to cause division, so he did what he felt was the right thing and stepped away gracefully.

Of course, there are always issues on both sides, but church can be brutal on a pastor at times. 

What do you do when the church fires you? Or, when the proverbial rug is pulled out from under you?

Here are 7 suggestions:

Assess how you got here.

What happened? You probably already know to a certain extent, but it’s good to evaluate. Where did you push too hard? Who did you cross you shouldn’t have? What was the actual line you crossed? You may not change anything if you had it do over, but this will help you as you move into another position at some point.

Own your mistakes.

If you can’t admit you made some, you may have bigger problems. There are always things you could’ve done better. Own your junk. Admit your failures. These are the best teaching tools you will ever have for future development.

Contact some friends.

You’ll be tempted to keep to yourself It may be embarrassing, but you need people around you. It’s easier to hide. You need people who will look deep into your heart and speak into your soul. Obviously, you should have these people developed before you get into the situation, but either way, you have to have an outlet for your current emotions.

Protect your family.

There will be rumors and half-truths and speculation and gossip. It’s what people do. As much as possible protect your spouse and children from it. Important caveat – don’t shelter your spouse from you. 

Rest and receive grace.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:16) One of the worst things you could do is to step back into something immediately without giving your heart a chance to heal. 

Network while you figure out what’s next.

And, next may be taking a season to heal. Or simply finding a healthy church to be a part of for a while. (I have loved being a part of churches were dozens of pastors I have “hung out” while they prepared for the next season of ministry.) There are healthy churches, which will help you during this season. this is the time to contact your network of other pastors. Don’t be bashful, and don’t be too proud. Be honest with where you are and ask for help finding your next position. You may need to take a secular job for a while. Whatever you do, make sure you take adequate time to think through next steps.

Begin again – in God’s timing.

This is the great advantage of grace. There is an opportunity to begin again. Read the story of the prodigal son. Remind yourself of David’s failures. Read the reconciliation of Peter with Jesus. If God has called you He has not given up on His call. Your next season may look different, but He still has great work for you to do.

The ministry can be brutal. So can people in the church be. If you are a casualty in ministry, please know there are people who care, and your best days may be ahead of you yet.

7 Secrets to Staying Sane In Church Revitilization

I am on the “other side” so-to-speak of church revitalization. Our church has not only stabilized, we’ve been blessed with healthy growth again. The first few years were hard. I’ve told people, with over 35 years in leadership, these were some of the hardest years of my career.

Now, I have the opportunity to speak to dozens of pastors attempting revitalization every year. Some are successful. Some aren’t.

From my personal experience and walking with others, I have learned there may be a few secrets to lasting through the hard days of revitilization.

Here are 7 secrets to staying sane in church revitilization:

Dogmatically protect my time.

Established churches will eat your calendar quickly if you’re not intentional about it. I needed to focus my energies in the right places. There will always be interruptions, but I have to have sufficient time to plan, meditate on the Scriptures, and prepare for Sunday. Also I knew I needed to be strategically investing in our staff and key leaders of the church.

Someone else controls my calendar.

This helps protect the first one. Someone else has an easier time saying no. And, no is said a lot. In order to be strategic, frankly it can be several weeks sometimes before you could get on my calendar. This was simply a reality of being in a large church and trying to be strategic with my time. Thankfully, we have lots of pastors who can assist people in their moments of need, and again, they’re always interruptions even in my own schedule. I realize many pastors don’t have other pastors to rely on, but many of the requests I received could even be handled by a volunteer.

Don’t cower to the few bullies.

This one is huge. There are always a few people who will try to derail anything positive taking place. Some people don’t like change. Let me correct that – most people don’t like change, especially if it makes them personally uncomfortable. You can’t allow a few people to dictate the direction of the church. There were actually times I had to schedule a meeting just to confront someone who was stirring rumors or gossip about the church or my leadership.

Save encouragements.

I have a file where I save encouraging notes and emails. This was so incredibly helpful in the days where there seemed to be more negativity than there was positive encouragement. Reading through this file reminds me of the people who support what we are doing. And, in my experience, people complain faster and more fluently then they take the time to encourage.

Pick battles carefully.

Some things are simply not worth the fight. Plus, I didn’t want to steal the culture from the church in the process of revitalizing it. Not everything needed changing and some things I could live with even if they never did.

Pace myself.

I can’t do everything in a day, month or even year. I tried to focus on no more than two or three objectives at a time. Usually these were major changes we needed to make and we took a year to make most of them. Church revitalization requires a long term approach.

Slip away frequently.

I knew going in I wanted to protect my marriage and my heart. During the busiest and most stressful seasons Cheryl and I took more time away not less. I was working plenty, but I knew we needed this time to ourselves even when it seemed I couldn’t possibly find time to be gone. These times refueled me to continue the journey.

Those are a few secrets I’ve learned. Are you attempting or have you attempted revitalization? Any suggestions?

10 Ways to Add Value to People (and Organizations) as a Leader

If you are going to lead – wouldn’t you want to lead in a way which creates value in the lives of others and the organizations you lead? I think this would be true for all of us.

The older I get and the longer I lead the less I care about personal recognition and ther more important it is to me that what I’m doing as a leader really matters. Of course, I want to first and foremost honor Christ with my life, but I believe doing so means I would desire to add genuine value to others in my leadership.

How do we do that?

Here are 10 ways to add value as a leader:

Be open to challenge. Everyone has an opinion and they aren’t usually afraid to share it if given an opportunity. Granted, sometimes they do so in less than gracious ways – and that can sting a little. Actually, it can sting a lot. But, you demonstrate humility when you open yourself to correction. Humility is an attractive trait for leaders.

Quickly share credit. You didn’t get where you are without the help of others. Leaders do well to recognize this regularly.

Notice what is missing. The leader should consistently be in a development mindset for the organization. No one else will dream bigger dreams for the organization than you. This shouldn’t translate into never being satisfied or failing to celebrate current success, but leaders should consistently help people see future potential.

Generously offer praise. People appreciate being appreciated.

Remain accessible to people. You may not always be available – there is only so much time in a day, but you can be accessible to people, especially those closest to your leadership. It shows you value them.

Embrace change. I am not sure there is leadership without change. When the leader fails to allow things stall for the organization, but also for individuals within it.

Condemn slowly. There are plenty of critics in the world. Leaders do best when they are cheerleading more than fault-finding.

Diligently protect your character. The character of the leader impacts the character of the organization – which impacts everyone in the organization.

Serve others. Jesus said the greatest must be a servant. So it goes for leaders who add value to others.

Take risks. People will be willing to take risks only when leadership is out front, leading with faith, vision and courage.

Any you would add to my list?

7 Things Forgiveness IS NOT

I have posted and reposted this for over a decade now. (If you see this list elsewhere, I must offer the reminder this is not the first time I’ve put these in print. I simply bring it forward because it remains such an important topic in leadership and life. 

The fact is, we get confused about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. Maybe we don’t really know sometimes.

I would contend forgiveness is not an option for the believer. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. For most of us (all of us if we will admit it), there’s a whole lot of forgiveness which has been extended to us.

Understanding forgiveness doesn’t make it easier to forgive, but it does make it more meaningful – perhaps even tolerable. I believe understanding the process could make us more likely to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to give.

In the next post I will share elements which are true of forgiveness.

In two posts, I want to share what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.

Here are 7 things forgiveness IS NOT:

Forgetting

When you forgive someone your memory isn’t suddenly wiped clean of the offense. I know God can do this – and I’m thankful He can. Honestly, thought, it almost seems forgetting the offense would be the easy way. If we could simply not remember what was done wrong to us by choosing to forgive, who wouldn’t? My suspicion is God wants forgiveness to be more intentional than this.

Regaining automatic trust

You don’t immediately begin to trust the person who injured you when you forgive them. And, if you think about it, that wouldn’t even be logical. Trust is earned, and the person who wronged us must earn trust again.

Removal of consequences

Even though you forgive someone, they may still have consequences to face because of their actions.

Ignoring the offense

You don’t have to pretend nothing happened when you forgive. The reality is an offense was made. Acting like it never occurred only builds resentment and anger.

Instant emotional healing

Emotions heal with time. Some pain runs deep and takes longer to heal. Emotions are not something you can simply choose to control.

Restoring the same relationship

The relationship may be closer than before, but it might not be. One thing is fairly certain – most likely the relationship will never be exactly the same.

A leverage of power

This is huge – and you’ll need to read the next post to fully grasp this one. Granting forgiveness does not give a person power over the person being forgiven. That would violate the entire principle and purpose of forgiveness.

Look for the companion post 7 Things that Forgiveness Is.

Just a note before you get there: This post may have seemed easy, even freeing, but the next one may be more difficult.

Leadership in Marriage: I Now Pronounce You Leader and Co-Leader

A Guest Post by Timothy Paul

At the time of this writing, I have been married for ten months. It’s been an incredible ride with Christie, my wife, and I’m very lucky to have found someone like her — beautiful, affectionate, sophisticated.

I always joked when people ask me how marriage is going – “It’s marital bliss! Everyday is better than the last!” And while I love my wife to death, everyday is not always better than the last. Some days there are arguments, uncomfortable situations, and emotional storms that come with the complexities of sharing every part of your life with another person.
Weirdly single for most of my life, I did not always know what to expect when preparing for a lifelong relationship. Confrontation-averse, I thought the greatest of couples wouldn’t squabble and could really only go as far as kindly disagreeing. Compromise killed arguments like Round-Up on weeds. Or at least I used to think.

In knowing that a marital relationship is not always going to feel like a tropical paradise, I now understand that taking an active leadership role in the relationship is critical to a healthy and successful marriage. Mitigating challenges with finances, occupations, and children are ongoing and need constant attention.

To date, I have learned two valuable leadership lessons that create a healthy relationship.

KINDNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS

As an aspiring cookbook author, naturally my wife loves to cook. And I consider myself the luckiest man on the planet because she cooks dinner for me every single night when I get home. Always a healthy meal, she is relentless in the kitchen. She whips up some of the best meals a man could ask for.

Not only that, she does a hefty amount of chores that I, admittedly, do not like to do. She’s a bathroom cleaning, dish rinsing, dog washing, laundry folding, sheet changing, interior decorating, grocery shopping machine! All she kindly asks is that I take out the garbage and put my dishes in the dishwasher. Full disclosure, I usually bat .500 with that.

It has taken me a while to realize that she doesn’t do these things because she necessarily enjoys them. She does them because they need to be done! And she is sacrificing her time and energy for me! Her self-interest routinely takes a backseat to my occupational needs. This kindness is not weakness, but rather awesome strength.

Even more, her kindness is not a method of surrender. It is an active an strategic process that is rooted in self-sacrifice.

It is not enough for me to simply acknowledge her efforts, although that’s all that she asks for. It is imperative, as a co-leader in this marriage, to thank her for her efforts. Dinner for two, weekend away, or a simple thank-you note is all it takes to let that special person in your life know that you recognize and appreciate everything they do for you.

And don’t be scared to go to town on some greasy dishes, fold some laundry, and spray the dog down with the hose.

MARRIAGE, LIKE LEADERSHIP, IS A DECISION

It takes far more than love to keep a marriage alive and well. In fact, love is the easiest part of the entire thing. Relationships get tangled quickly when we fail to recognize that change is a large, non-moveable variable that is always in the equation. And with change, comes the decision to stay committed.

We don’t live life in a vacuum – every year, every day, every moment is unique and varying degrees of different from what we have experienced in the past. It takes a potent combination of wisdom and resiliency to continue to thrive with one another.

To assume a leadership role, it is imperative we make the conscious decision to give your partner, staff, or team the attention they need to feel the love. Take deliberate and direct action to have their best interests at the forefront of your frontal lobe. This purposefully translates into making every decision with them in mind.

Assuming a leadership role in a marriage is tall order. However, in ten months of being legally bound to someone, I have learned that it will take every ounce of effort to allow both people in a relationship to thrive and accomplish everything they want to in life. I sometimes come up short, but every day is a new day to be better by making her better.

Tim Paul is the founder of LeadershipStrikeGroup.com. A Lieutenant in the US Navy and a 2010 Naval Academy graduate, he has been training and performing as an operational leader for more than ten years. He currently lives and serves as the nuclear engineering officer recruiter in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Christie, who is an aspiring cookbook author.

The Work Life Balance Myth

A Guest Post by Shawn Lovejoy

Family and work can’t be balanced. The good news is that it’s not supposed to be. You heard me. It’s not in the Bible. Not one time in Scripture, are you and I encouraged to live “balanced” lives.

You know why? For one reason: life CAN’T be balanced! If it could be balanced, Jesus would’ve at least gotten it done, right? Does it surprise you to know that Jesus didn’t balance family and work well?

Rather, Jesus saw His priorities to family and work as equal “rhythms” that demanded ALL of His attention at a given point, rather than two competing loyalties that must be balanced at a given point. Here are some examples:

• When Jesus was 12 years old, He disappeared from his mom and dad and went to the Temple. When His mother found him and chastised Him, what did He say? “I must be about my Father’s business.” In other words, “Mom, right now, the most important thing I could be doing is learning to do what God has called me to do.”

• Jesus also didn’t have the typical mantra: “God first; family second; and work third.” I don’t know where we got that idea, but it wasn’t from the Bible. Jesus didn’t live this way. Jesus’ family was NOT ALWAYS more important than His ministry. Three Gospels record the true story that tells of a day in Jesus’ life when He is teaching great crowds and his mother and brothers show up and ask him to come home and be with them: “As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers were outside, wanting to talk with him. Someone told Jesus, “’Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.’” Matthew 12:46-47 (NLT). Upon hearing this request, Jesus refuses to even come to the door! Why? Because He was in the middle of His work!

• If Jesus would have valued family over work or ministry, He never would have died on the cross! Think about it.
Don’t get me wrong: Jesus highly valued relationships!

Here are some examples:

• Jesus picked 12 friends to do His ministry WITH. And He was closer to three of them more than anyone else.

• While on the cross, Jesus was very concerned with the welfare of his mother and his best friend John: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27 (NIV).

• Jesus passionately loved people! So much so that He died for us!

Jesus wasn’t balanced. He lived life in rhythm. When He was supposed to be working, He gave it His all: His very life! When He was supposed to be doing life with God or people, He was fully present physically, emotionally, and mentally. No one has ever been more passionate about people than Jesus. However, He didn’t just live at the whims of people, even his own family!

So what do we learn from Jesus? Wherever you are, be there. When you’re at work, be at work. Don’t be on Facebook. Don’t be on the phone every hour with your family. Be a good steward of your job! That honors God.

When you’re at home, be there! NOT on the phone; NOT on the laptop; NOT on Facebook; Be WITH your family! Be fully present: physically AND mentally! THAT honors God! THAT’S following the way of Jesus! Life in Rhythm!

Does that set you free?

Balance says that we should give equal energy and attention to everything at the same time. However, not only is this idea not possible…it’s not Biblical! Take the Biblical idea of Sabbath. The very word Sabbath means: “to stop or cease” something. God wants us to work 6 days! Work is not a curse! It doesn’t deserve our 2nd best. It’s not a sin to go to bed exhausted every day!

However, every 7th day, God COMMANDED us to rest (in the same list of commands He COMMANDED us not to murder). Every 7th day should be an opportunity to STOP our normal routine and replenish ourselves physically and spiritually! This might challenge you, but think about this: This means that you are NOT supposed to “keep all the plates spinning”! God says to stop spinning them and let them all fall every week! I love that!

The greatest challenge is that most of us agree with the idea of Sabbath and believe it to be a good thing, we just don’t know how to get there! How do we work the idea of Sabbath into our life rhythms?

Here are some ways that we can build Sabbaths into our lives:

• Take your day off. Simple. Do you trust God enough to do life according to His pattern? The answer is either YES or NO.

• Do all your “honey-do” lists, and house-catch-up tasks on Saturdays. Go ahead and work hard around the house of you need to. The Biblical idea is just to have ONE DAY that we stop EVERYTHING.

• Honor the LORD on the Sabbath. Go to church. Worship Him. Serve Him. Give to Him. God knows what’s best for us. God refreshes us through His people, His worship, and His Word. Be faithful to church! Stop making excuses!

• Take your vacation time. All of it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t answer your cell phone. That’s what voicemail is for. Set up your voicemail to say: “I’m on vacation. I need the rest from work, so I will only be returning phone calls this week that have the word ‘emergency’ in them.”

• Tell your kids they can do 1-2 seasonal sports. That’s it. Train them to rest. Train them to do 1-2 things, rather than allowing them to try to do everything!

• Have some YOU and GOD time. Find the quietest part of your day EVERY DAY and BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD. Take some time to read God’s Word and pray! No, you won’t get quite as much done if you stop for 30 minutes and do nothing. But, you’ll be reminded again that YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET EVERYTHING DONE!

How do YOU rest? What are the steps YOU need to take to rest? Which of these are the toughest for you?

Shawn Lovejoy is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com a coaching ministry for leaders. He loves coaching leaders through what keeps them awake at night. CourageToLead employs multiple coaches all over the U.S to work one-on-one with leaders and ministries. Shawn’s new book for leaders: Be Mean About The Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters, released in April 2016. Shawn lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Tricia, and their three kids Hannah, Madison, and Paul.

22 Things Learned in 42 Years of Ministry

From a Mentor Dennis Newkirk

I saw this on one of my mentor’s Facebook wall and felt it might be helpful to some of my ministry friends, so I asked his permission to share it. These are random thoughts about his time in ministry. They may not be equal for everyone, but I think many will resonate. 

As my pastor, Dr. Dennis Newkirk was the first pastor to speak into my life as a young adult and encourage me to be a leader for the Kingdom of God. I had been leading for several years already in the secular and business world, but never in the church. He was only my pastor a few years, but they were impactful years. I doubt I would be where I am today without his influence.

Dennis is retiring from his church this Sunday, but he is’t retiring from his calling. He is beginning a new ministry ministering to pastors. You can find him at Facebook.com/NewkirkMinistries

Dennis posted:

For those of you in the vocational ministry, let me offer some reflections on 42 years of ministry. For the rest of you friends, you may be a little interested, I don’t know.

1. All good has been done by God and has not been my doing (Isa 26:12).
2. My family must come second only to Christ.
3. My wife’s job is harder than mine.
4. My children experienced things that they shouldn’t have because of my job.
5. Preachers must always focus on prayer and study.
6. A pastor’s personal spiritual disciplines and the pursuit of Christ is vital.
7. Criticism cannot be avoided. It will always be part of the calling. Some of it is valid.
8. The example we set is as important as what we say.
9. God is faithful all the time, even when we don’t think so.
10. Disagreement is not disloyalty.
11. Satan is always looking for an opportunity.
12. Success has little to do with numbers and everything to do with faithfulness.
13. Ask God for vision, share the vision, give the vision away to those who see it.
15. Pastoring is a marathon.
16. Never give up on people.
17. God’s timing is never our timing, and His is always perfect.
18. Don’t talk or make important decisions when angry or hurt.
19. All church fights are terrible but some are necessary.
20. Pastoring is a lonely assignment.
21. Don’t talk or make important decisions when angry or hurt. (He must have felt this one was worth repeating. Wisdom.)
22. Members will love you and care for you if you give them a chance.

Your Structure Can Impede Your Progress

It should do the opposite...

Whenever I post about how structure can get in the way of progress I hear from people who remind me we need structure to prevent organizational chaos.

And, I agree. I also learn people are usually opposed to micromanagement (and, many times this is in principle or theory more than practice), but when you push against structure the very structured people come out of their proverbial shell.

When I push against structure am I referring to micromanagement?

Well, yes and no. Micromanagement is an impediment to organizational health, and many times structure is micromanagement, but I when I mention structure I simply mean structure.

So what’s my push against structure?

I agree we need structure. Structure is good for organizational health, but we don’t need structure for structure sake. We need structure for progress sake.

And there is a huge difference.

If I use a spiritual example, I see it as similar to the concept of grace, freedom and the law. We don’t need laws if we are bound by grace. Grace is actually a higher standard than the law. But, we have to have an established order in our world for progress. It is a wicked world and we could never get anything done without some sense of structure.

In an organizational sense, if we all did the right thing we wouldn’t need structure. But structure allows for progress. When structure becomes a problem – when it gets in the way – and the kind of structure which causes me the most concern – is when well-meaning structure impedes progress.

Consider this example:

Imagine a rule which says everyone has to be in the church office from 8 to 5. (I would say this is a fairly common structure.) Now imagine I am someone who greatly respects authority. Perhaps I’m even a rule follower, therefore, I obey the structure and am dutifully at my desk from 8am to 5pm everyday.

The fact is, however, I work at my absolute best from 5am to 9am in the morning – out of the office. I have a room in my house set up for maximum efficiency. I can do what would normally take me most of a day in 4 hours in this setting.

Sticking to the structure in this case would limit my ability to be at my best. The organization (or in my case the church) suffers because of the structure. It impeded my progress.

At the other extreme, because I’m following the structure, I may not go to the emergency hospital visit at midnight. After all, office hours are over by then.

This type example is why I am far less strict on when I see people in the office. I would rather measure people’s contributions to the team based on their overall productivity and performance – are they meeting the goals and objectives for their position. (And, I think the individual should be the primary one to set their own goals and objectives.)

The bottom line is structure should enhance not impede progress.

Good structure should always help you accomplish what God plants in your heart to accomplish. It shouldn’t distract from it or get in the way. The best leaders are always looking to help their teams lead through the things which get in the way of progress or achieving the overall goals and objectives. This includes bad structure.