When Leaders Go Missing

I wrote this post back in 2012, so some of the stories have passed, but I think the truth is still the same. I hope you are encouraged and challenged as you read it.

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Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed this week with leukemia. Early reports are that it’s treatable, and he may “only” miss 6-8 weeks of football time with his team. Obviously that is less important that his health and the well being of his family and friends. Though football is a business, and important (in some respects), it should take a back seat here to the larger, personal issues.

For a moment though, let’s look at it from a leadership perspective.

The Colts have lost their leader for the foreseeable future and are expected to keep going.

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Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, emailed his congregation recently to notify them that he has been having some health issues. His situation too does not appear life threatening at this point, but his email was about the strength of their church without having to rely on his presence.

When I read that my first thought was, “that’s a little naive”. He’s Rick Warren. Are we supposed to believe that his church will just run smoothly if something were to happen to him? I mean, he’s Rick Warren.

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How much of the church, team, or company you lead is dependent on you?

I didn’t say how much of it reflects you? is because of you? or was built on your personality, leadership, style or strengths?

How much of this thing you lead depends on you?

If it all depends on you, if all decisions are made by you, if you lead the meetings, if you train the volunteers, if you are justifying right now why you need to do all those things…then you are building something that dies when you die. It gets sick when you get sick.

There are two conversations in play here:

1. What’s your longterm succession plan?
2. Who would run things in the short-term if you can’t?

A good leader answers these questions.

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One day, probably sooner than you hope, someone else will wake up with the task of leading your former team.

What are you doing today to make sure they’re ready?

Being Patient Stinks

The first week of December 2014 I found a commercial lease space that I felt would be the new home of MPNCanton from the second I drove into the parking lot. The next 6 weeks we negotiated a contract, met with our key leaders, elders and Trustees. We signed the contract at the end of January 2015. There was some buildout to be done but we were told that would take 30-45 days. So we were hoping to be in by Easter.

We announced it to our congregation. We started the architectural drawings and submitted paperwork to the city of Canton. Easter came and went…but maybe we’d be in by early summer.

Then we found our we had to get a conditional use permit to temporarily rezone the building so a church could meet there. We filed some more paperwork. Then we waited. Eventually we met with the city Planning and Zoning commission who had several meetings and considered our case. It was eventually approved. Summer came and went…but maybe we’d be in by the fall.

Then it had to go before the city council…twice. Eventually it was approved. Now we could get our building permit and start building out. But now our plans had “some issues” and the inspectors had to review our drawings again. We had to make a few changes. Fall came and went…but maybe…

As I write this I have been told that the plans are being approved today and we can finally get our permit and start building. I’m excited. I’m frustrated. I ready to get started…

I don’t know what you’re waiting on, but what I’ve learned over the last 11 months, and the last 9 months, and the last 6 months, and the last 3 months, and the last 3 weeks is this…

I can’t make something happen faster than it’s supposed to happen.

None of the details above are meant to cast a negative light on the people making decisions, reviewing plans or involved in the process somewhere along the way. It’s just the way the story has played out.

But something interesting has happened along the way while we waited.

New people showed up to our church at the school where we meet every Sunday. When we asked “how did you find out about us?” we heard something really interesting. More than at anytime in our nearly 4 years of existence we heard “I was just driving by and saw your flag (or the cars pulling in) (etc) and decided to try it out.”

Because I’m not God I don’t know if those people would have driven by the new building 7 miles away if we had moved in at Easter, or in the Summer, or in the early fall. But we’re still in the school…and now so are they.

When I get emotional and frustrated about having to wait I miss that something else might be going on.

So, again, I don’t know where you’re having to be patient, or what you’re waiting on, but ask yourself this question:

What is God doing NOW that I’m missing because I’m focused on what’s NEXT?

Once you see it, you might not be in such a hurry to move past it.