July 30, 2012

Be Present

For the last year or so, the leadership organization/movement known as Catalyst has been exploring the theme of "Be Present". It's been all about making sure that as leaders we have one foot firmly planted in the "here & now" instead of being consumed solely with "what could be." After all, if you don't know where you are, you can't really get a vision for where you can go.

One way I've seen this tension at work in ministry leadership is the constant temptation for ministry leaders to focus primarily on what they can't do or aren't allowed to do in their current structure or tradition. I'm sure this is a tension in every area of leadership, ministry or otherwise, but the area of ministry leadership is what I know & live in everyday. There's not a leader in ministry, volunteer or paid, who hasn't struggled with this tension. In addition to that, there's the fact that church culture is a little more resistant to change than the culture in many businesses or other organizations. It's no wonder there's a little frustration on the part of leaders.

However, leaders' responsibility is to lead. That means progress has to be made, & if it can't be made in one area, there's a good chance there's another area where it can. The only problem is that if we as leaders are only focused on what restricts us, we'll miss out on the areas where we have freedom & flexibility to influence change or growth.

Here's a simple truth that we as leaders often miss: "To Be Present, Focus On What You Can Do Instead Of What You Can't." You can't "be present" as a leader while you're missing out on opportunities around you. Don't waste chances to lead in areas where you can make progress because you're angry or frustrated about the areas where you can't. After all, leading in the areas where you currently have the freedom to move may very well lead you to have future freedom in the places where you wish you did. Being present now in the things you can do may open the door to taking action in the things that you can't.

It's a tension we all have to manage. Just because you can't currently move in an area where you think you need to doesn't mean you shouldn't push a little. However, you cannot allow a roadblock in one area to distract you & consume you to the point that you miss out on the opportunities that do exist around you.

What areas in your leadership currently frustrate you because you don't feel you have the freedom to lead? On the other hand, what are the areas where you do have freedom? What are the opportunities in those areas that need your focus in order to see progress? How could seizing opportunities where you currently have freedom open the door to the areas where you don't?