Go! No, Wait.

How much of leadership in a church (or any organization) is about leading groups of people, and how much is about individuals? If there’s a new thing happening, is the pastor helping to gather a team to work on it, or is the pastor pouring time and energy into one person, so that s/he can gather a team and do the work?

It sounds like a minor distinction, but it feels consequential. I was trained to, when someone approaches me with an idea, send them out to “run it up the flagpole,” see who else feels called to the idea, and then to come back. Then, as the pastor, I’ll get involved and help lead.

I’m realizing, though, that “running it up the flagpole” is by no means self-explanatory, and that many people who feel a calling to solve a problem feel far less called to rally their peers to solve it with them. It’s a confidence issue. So, nine times out of 10, I send them out to drum up interest and they never come back.

“I don’t think that’s a good way to lead,” a fellow pastor told me recently when I described this method. He said, “This is our job, not theirs. They have a job. They don’t have a bunch of extra time to do those things. But it’s our job.” (That’s a pretty loose paraphrase).

Instead, he says, he commits to some concrete steps toward exploring the idea and the person’s sense of call to work on it. That exploration is time-bounded and open ended, so it’s possible at least one of them will discern that moving forward is a bad idea.

So I’m trying this. Somebody came to see me yesterday with an idea, and I promised to do two concrete things over the next two weeks to see if it’s something that energizes me and seems good. He’s doing some things too. We’ve set up another meeting together in two weeks.

How do you channel new energy and new ideas?