Autopilot is wonderful for our car but dangerous for our ministries!
We are on autopilot in our ministries when we become comfortable with what is rather than constantly asking what could be. As a ministry leader I am amazed at how quickly we become comfortable with where we are and stop asking the important questions about our strategies, effectiveness and how well we are accomplishing our mission.
It is human nature to crave the stable and comfortable. However, the more comfortable we become, the less missional we become. The words comfortable and stagnation are synonymous words for good leaders, and not good words..
There is a poster that says, "If you always do what you always did you always get what you always got." Here is the danger: The longer you remain comfortable the harder it is to get out of the comfort zone and do something different.
One of the significant contributors to stagnation is the pace at which we live which robs us of time to think, to evaluate, to ask critical questions and to explore what others might be doing that is seeing success. The busier we are the more likely it is that we do not have the time or energy to think and evaluate Ironically, our ministry pace may well rob us of ministry effectiveness!
Avoiding the comfortable and stagnation is one of the responsibilities of every leader - whether of a team, a division, a ministry or an organization. Even if you are not naturally an innovator!
Leaders who keep their organizations from the comfortable and stagnation have some common characteristics.
First, they take time to think, to read, to pray and to strategize. This is the "do less to accomplish more" principle. Wise leaders actually build time into their schedules when they are unavailable to others so they can think about the ministry they lead.
Second, they always ask the question: "Is there a way to do what we do differently that would increase our effectiveness?" As a mission leader, I am convinced that many mission agencies are doing the same thing today that they did fifty years ago, good work, but not very effective work given the way the world has changed.
The problem is that they have been comfortable for too long and neither leaders or ministry personnel are asking the effectiveness questions. The same is true for many churches that cruise along without much change year after year.
Three, they are never satisfied with the status quo. The status quo is a danger zone. Good leaders know that there are always better ways to leverage effectiveness They keep gently pushing their team or organization to keep looking for ways to see better results for their time, energy and resources.
Four, they are always looking at what others are doing for better ways to do what they are doing. We don't need to be innovators to innovate. What we do need is both a radar and relationships that keep us informed as to what others are doing - and where appropriate - what we might be doing.
Fifth, they are deeply missional and keep the mission in front of their team or ministry all the time. Instilling a deeply missional mindset among everyone in our ministry will go a long way in helping them avoid the comfortable. People who are driven by mission are never satisfied with the status quo.
One of the ways to know how comfortable you are is to ask the question, how many significant changes have we made in the past five years? The smaller the number, the more likely it is that you are living in the comfort zone. This is not change for change sake. It is innovation for the sake of greater effectiveness.
We either innovate or we stagnate.
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