In any organization, how decisions are made and how things get done are extremely important. Volumes have been written about strong organizational health, effective managerial principles, and efficient company-wide practices.
The same holds true for the local church. Ensuring wise decision making and encouraging effective work habits are important and of eternal significance. Jesus gave his followers principles related to this idea. He said things like, “be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” And “Let your yes be YES. Let your no be NO.”
Seems simple, right? However, in my 30 years of ministry, I’ve learned that decisions and actions are actually more complex and hold greater significance than one might think. Making decisions and taking action can have far-reaching impact on hundreds, if not thousands, in your church and community. Therefore, it’s important to give this topic its due consideration, and to get this right. So, here are three principles to consider when making decisions and taking action.
What you do
Getting the job done efficiently is the bottom line in many organizations. Managers assigns tasks, provide instructions, give deadlines, and expect follow through. And your job, as a faithful employee, is to do it. Do it well. Do it on time. Exceed expectations, if possible. And, especially if you work in the church, do it joyfully. That’s simply how effective businesses are run.
But for church employees there are additional thoughts to consider. In some work environments, it seems what is done is all that matters. But in other environments, like a church, how it’s done is also important. So, it’s a good idea to consider how you do what you do.
How you do it
Decisions and actions never happen in a vacuum. They always rub up against others. So ask yourself, did I do it with a good attitude? Did accomplishing the task rub anyone the wrong way? Who did my actions affect? How did it affect them?
Then, once you get used to asking those questions after you complete a task, try asking them before you begin. This will turn your thoughts from being reactive to proactive. Being proactive in considering how you do things will not only increase your personal productivity, but also improve your interpersonal relationships that are so vital in maintaining a healthy work environment.
How it’s perceived
How you do a task is one thing. How it’s perceived by others in an entirely different issue. You certainly can’t control how others interpret your actions, nor your reasons for doing them. Motivation is typically an internal thing, not easily seen by others. Still, it’s worth careful consideration.
Even in the church (or, especially in the church), how things appear is often as important as what actually happens. For example, if you conduct a successful, three week stewardship emphasis, but it looks like you used heavy handed tactics to raise the money, it will reinforce the commonly held idea that the church as always asking for money, and is bound to turn people off.
So consider how your actions might be perceived by others in the congregation and the community. The Apostle Paul reminds church leaders to be “above reproach” in matters of ministry and life. Make sure what you do reflects the heart of God, your motivations are pure, and all your actions are above board.
A final thought
These three steps may seem a bit unnecessary. After all, working in a church should be different, right? We’re working for the kingdom of God and dealing with members of God’s family, right? While those things are certainly true, working in a church can have many of the same realities that are common in other businesses. Wise Christian leaders will go the extra mile to ensure the quality of what gets done, think about how they accomplish their work, and consider how others perceive it. Giving proper attention to these three ideas will help ensure maximum productivity in your church and ministry.