THE FOURTH “R” OF THE LEADERSHIP MODEL
At the end of my first month on campus as a new staff member, our area directors paid us a visit. I was excited to see them, and even more excited to learn that I would have a personal appointment with my leaders.
After some initial conversation, Susan asked me, “Andrea, how do you feel about the evangelism you are doing?”
It was a relief to have someone ask – I was dying inside trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I had been feeling really lost on campus; the situation was so different from the campus I came from.
She clarified that indeed I wasn’t doing what was expected. “Did you know that there were expectations for new staff ?” “No,” I said.
Then she did something that I will never forget. She looked me in the eye and said, “If I were you, I would find some way to think about how to structure my week so that I could do what was expected.” We went on to talk about how I could do that so that I could have a different outcome in the future. I was so motivated when we finished our time together that I shared with as many people in the next two hours as I had the previous week.
Susan modeled to me how to use the results she was seeing on my reports to investigate my situation, not to condemn me. And in her investigation, she uncovered several realities: I didn’t know what was expected, I was having a hard time adjusting to a different type of campus and I was frustrated with my own results. She was able to come alongside me as a coach and help formulate a strategy to accomplish what was expected of me.
“Results” are the fourth “R” of the leadership framework
They tell us where we are on the journey of pursuing the vision God has given us. The things we measure tell us something about how we are doing in our God- given mission. How much do things look today like we’re praying they will be in the future? As simple as that sounds, looking at results can be a really tough thing to do. In working with leaders, I have witnessed their responses when what’s on the report doesn’t match their own perceptions of how things are. I have struggled with it myself when I hit seasons that weren’t as fruitful as I had hoped or prayed for.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT RESULTS
1. LOOKING AT RESULTS MAKES ME FEEL BAD
When our results don’t match our hopes or aspirations, it’s easy to feel bad. The evil one gets in there and begins to whisper just how bad a Christian worker you are. Don’t listen! Whatever the fruits of our labor are, they have nothing to do with our worth and value before God and others. The worth of anything is determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it. Nothing changes the fact that our worth is measured by the price God has paid for us when He redeemed us – His Son. We did nothing to earn His love and grace in the first place.
2. BUT WHAT’S ON THE REPORT DOESN’T TELL THE WHOLE STORY
Results never tell the entire story. Our identified measurements do not account for motivation, prayer, diligence or activity. They measure outcomes – what has happened as a result of our motivation, prayer, diligence and activity? Each team leader needs to understand the results in the context of all those things as the team evaluates them and brings perspective to the team.
3. GOOD RESULTS MEAN “I’VE GOT IT TOGETHER”
Plenty of godly people have served in places where they saw little to no fruit for many years. And there have been too many leaders with good results who had character deficits that caused harm to the ministry. While we may consider before the Lord if there’s something in our lives that’s hindering His work, we cannot draw conclusions about our faith or character (or anyone else’s) from only the results.
4. WE ONLY COLLECT STATISTICS FOR DONORS
This is perhaps the greatest misconception of them all. Measuring results is primarily for our own benefit as leaders. Have we moved forward? Why or why not? If we are not considering how we are doing, we can deceive ourselves into thinking that things are better off than they are. Max DuPree says, “The first job of a leader is to detect entropy.” That is, I need to know when things are beginning to go off-course. Evaluating our results gives us valuable information about our effectiveness and staying on track in pursuing our God-given mission.
5. “THEY” WANT THEM
Apart from the adversarial nature of this misconception, the idea is that I, as a leader,
don’t need an objective measure of what is happening on my turf. Positive momentum and enthusiasm of a large group can mask underlying realities, especially in areas like evangelism. We can be hearing about lots of evangelistic conversations and assume things are going well, only to find when the results come in, that few people have come to Christ. A good leader will celebrate the stories as well as look at the numbers.
Part of our problem looking at our results is the conflicting emotions that surface when there is a gap between what we desire (vision) and where we are now. Leaders need to be able to manage this gap without reducing our vision or denying current reality. Guilt and shame overtake some people as they see this gap. They immediately see that they haven’t prayed enough or done enough. They can drive themselves in a cycle of condemnation and working harder. Others see the gap as the result of outside circumstances, things we cannot control. They release themselves from any responsibility for the outcomes. Neither response is what we want to have happen.
The best use of our measurements is to approach our results as a way to investigate what is really happening. They are a place to begin asking questions about our own effectiveness. The same statistics from any two movements can represent very different realities. We can never judge a situation entirely by the numbers we see. We must, as leaders, find out what the numbers mean. Our results can and should push us to ask questions and seek answers, to question our assumptions and to learn.
In order to really use our measurements in that way, we need humility and grace to be able to look at our results. Humility as a leader means I am willing to see the results for what they are, neither inflating them, nor excusing them. Grace gives me the ability to know that I am secure in Christ. I don’t have to be insecure about who I am if the results aren’t what I expected. I may need to adjust what I do, but who I am in the Lord is never threatened in reporting or evaluating results.
We must also be committed to examining our results in a spirit of dependence on the Holy Spirit. It can be really easy to look at reports and think strategically about what needs to happen, without ever engaging with the Lord about it. The leader’s heart needs to be connected to the Lord as we look at the fruit of our labor. That deep dependence means that we will not rely on our own strength or ability; we will seek the Lord’s direction and wisdom for changes that we need to make.
Our results may also shed some light on leadership roles we may neglect. Sometimes you can see discrepancies in the numerical results that point to more focused time needed as a spokesperson or a coach. A good question to consider is how do these results inform my leadership as to where I spend my time?
When I go back to that conversation with area leaders as a new staff member, I realized that Susan used my results in a healthy manner to come alongside me and help me be more effective. My hope is that in like manner, we will evaluate and investigate the results we are seeing so that we continue to move closer to everyone knowing someone who truly follows Jesus.
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