As we approach our annual planning retreat and evaluation season, I feel like it’s time for me to do a self-evaluation.
17 Tips for High-Impact Leaders
1. Tough decisions only get tougher.
You are only one decision away from a totally different life. I believe that. One change in diet or exercise can radically change your health status. One change in spiritual disciplines can open up new dimensions of grace and power. One change in a relationship can lead to intimacy. What do you need to stop doing or start doing? Your destiny isn’t a mystery—your destiny is the cumulative decisions you make. What tough decision do you need to make? What are you waiting for?
2. Negativity is cancer. Kill it or it will kill you.
I am wide open to rebuke. Constructive criticism is the avenue to excellence. But I have zero tolerance for negativity. How do you stop negativity? Positivity. One of the ways we do that at NCC is sharing wins before every meeting. It reminds us God is moving, and we get to be part of it. Sharing wins creates positive energy, and it’s positivity that gives us the energy we need to deal with negativity. Don’t let one staff member, one board member, or one small-group member hijack what God has called you to captain.
3. No Margin = No Vision.
If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll become nothing to nobody. I have focus days and meetings days. I meet with people on my meeting days. I meet with God on my focus days. I need days where there is nothing on my agenda so I can read or write, dream or rest. The lack of margin will kill your creativity. If you don’t control your calendar, your calendar will control you. It starts with establishing boundaries. Then you need to guard against the Messiah complex. You can’t save everybody. In fact, you can’t save anybody. You aren’t doing anybody any favors if you make yourself available to everybody all the time. Take a break. Take a day off. Take a vacation. Take a sabbatical.
4. If you listen to God, people will listen to you.
People don’t need a word from me—they need a word from God. I want my messages to have a prophetic edge to them, and that happens when I get into the presence of God. The presence of God is where problems are solved and dreams are conceived. Get in the presence of God. At the end of the day, I am nothing without God’s anointing. I need to keep an ear tuned to the people, but more importantly, I need to keep an ear tuned to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.
5. Don’t let your budget determine your vision.
Too often, we allow our budget to determine our vision instead of allowing vision to determine our budget. That doesn’t mean you hire lots of staff you’ll need to fire. It doesn’t mean you let expenses get out of control. It does mean that you hold tenaciously to this simple truth: when God gives a vision, He makes provision. You need to budget in a way that gives God the room to do miracles. And make doubly sure that you have vision beyond your resources.
6. Everything is an experiment.
One of the greatest dangers we face as leaders is inattentional blindness. We stop noticing our environment. When that happens, we lose creativity, we lose excellence. You’ve got to make some mistakes! You’ve got to take some risks. Over time, there is a cognitive shift from right brain to left brain: We stop doing ministry out of imagination and start doing it out of memory. Do something different. After all, if you want God to do something new, then you can’t keep doing the same old thing.
7. If your life is interesting, your messages will be interesting.
The reason why many of our messages lack impact is that they aren’t interesting, and they aren’t interesting because we’re not interesting. Get a life! You need a life outside of church. Go on an adventure. Take up a hobby. Learn something new.
8. Don’t just dream big. Think long.
We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in two years, but we underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. Zoom out. Your mantra shouldn’t be “as soon as possible.” It should be “as long as it takes.” Your vision isn’t just too small. It’s too short.