6 Practices of Unfocused Leadership

D.L. Moody said, “Give me a person who says, ‘This one thing I do,’ and not ‘These 50 things I dabble in.’” He was likely referring to several biblical passages where believers described their single-minded focus on the Lord (Philippians 3:13-14 and Psalm 27:4, for example). When it comes to our spiritual maturity, focus is powerful. As we gaze at the Lord and pursue Him with single-minded focus, He transforms us more and more into His image.

Focus is powerful in work, in ministry, and in life. When you focus on one thing, the best of your energy and attention is leveraged in the same direction. With focus, leaders and team can accomplish much. The antithesis of a focused leader is, of course, a distracted one. Unlike a focused leader, a distracted leader moves in a plethora of directions and accomplishes little. Here are six warning signs you may be an unfocused leader.

1. You cannot grind out work.

The Memphis Grizzlies are known for being a team that “grinds it out.” They embrace the mantra given to them by the city, play hard, and go to work until the final whistle blows. Grinding out work means, at times, long sessions or long days. To grind out work takes an incredible amount of focus. A distracted leader can’t stay on task and has to exit the grind.

2. You hop from idea to idea.

A distracted leader hops from new idea to new idea, rarely realizing the potential of any of them. A distracted leader constantly seeks new ideas, searching for a new magic bullet. A focused leader reads, learns, and seeks development as well but with motivations to mature and develop in the same direction.

3. You never question your execution.

A distracted leader is always tweaking strategy without looking at execution. Instead of the work of plowing through a challenge, a distracted leader would rather just change direction. A constant change in strategy can mask deficiency in execution.

4. You are always reorganizing.

Jim Collins cautioned against continual reorganization in his book How the Mighty Fall. When there is continual reorganization, teams are not able to find rhythm and execute well. Distracted leaders enjoy continual reorgs because instead of really working, they just hypothesize about how work can get done.

5. You are attracted to chaos.

Distracted leaders love chaos because they believe it gives them value. They are able to step in, bark out some orders, and feverishly work. Distracted leaders are not only attracted to chaos, they create it. Distracted leaders foster constantly changing direction, which in turn fosters chaos.

6. You are always somewhere else.

Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” A distracted leader is never fully present, not during dinner with the family, not when tucking the children in bed, and not in the meeting.

Really, this is a spectrum, a spectrum between focused and distracted leadership, so perhaps one or two of these points are potential areas of growth. We are likely never as focused as we could be, and distractions threaten to steal effectiveness from our leadership.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
 
— Carter Kerns
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 

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