When each of my kids were learning to count they would mess up. I remember Tucker always skipped 15. Every single time it was 12, 13, 14, 16…It was funny to me, and frustrating at times, but it reminds me of a leadership principle.
I was at a conference a few years ago and Pastor Chris Hodges made this statement.
“If you don’t know what you want to do you can’t measure it. If you can’t measure it you don’t know if you’ve done it.”
What are you counting in your life? In your church? In your business?
His quote obviously stretches beyond counting. It’s about goals. It’s about success. It’s about…well…a lot of things.
But for this purpose I want to talk about counting.
In churches we’ve often stuck to counting “nickels and noses.” How many people attended and what was the offering? We even had wooden boards hanging in the front of our sanctuaries in days gone by showing us those totals. Then they were placed in permanent ink in our church bulletins. It told a story, but I’m not sure it told the whole story.
Recently churches have been very intentional to count some other things. At our church, for example, we count things like salvations, baptisms, people in Life Groups, people serving in a ministry, first time guests, and more.
If you aren’t in the church your business may count sales, expenses, ROI, customer acquisition costs, etc.
No matter what you’re counting here are 3 principles that guide me in counting as a leader.
1) Never exaggerate!
Let me be clear…NEVER! I realize that if you have 24 you want to say “nearly 25.” Don’t do that. I used to do that and it had unintended consequences. First, I lost credibility with people who knew what the actual numbers were. They may have started wondering what other areas of my life I exaggerated. Second, it robbed me of the joy in future success. If we have 40 kids in our youth group on a Wednesday night but we we had a lock-in with 80 one time so we tell everyone we are a youth group of 80…guess what?!? When we actually get 80 kids on Wednesday night the feeling isn’t quite as sweet as it could be. Instead of celebrating a huge milestone we have to push the exaggeration further down the road to keep up with the pace of our exaggeration.
Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
2) Count accurately or get someone who can.
Don’t count the 25 cars and multiply by 4 and say you had 100 people. Count the actual people. Don’t count the pregnant lady as 2 people since she is carrying a human. Just count her as 1 and pray she has surprise triplets to grow your children’s ministry. Don’t double count volunteers in 2 services. If you have someone else who counts make sure to let them off the hook from your expectations. Don’t cause them to fudge the numbers because every time they give you negative information you get angry. Or because you are constantly griping about something. Tell them you want to know the numbers..good, bad, and ugly.
3) Count everything.
No number is too small not to be included. Don’t just count the attendance. Count the guests. Don’t just total the kids up, count the nursery and grade school separately. Don’t just count the total of the offering, count how much was cash, checks and online.
You will have to make leadership decisions in the future that will be much easier if you have a set of records that lets you know the numbers and the trends. If you don’t count, you just have to guess.
There are several more things I could include, but this is a great place to start. If you don’t exaggerate, count accurately, and count everything you’ll understand where you really are. Then you can put the rest of Pastor Hodges’ quote into action…but we’ll talk about that another time.