Build Energy Before Growth

Tom-portrait-150x150Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H). Here’s his post:

For a vision to be meaningful, it must capture employees’ excitement and fill them with urgency. But these two emotions need constant refueling, or the energy stores will run dry.

An article in Harvard Business Review called “Don’t Manage Time, Manage Energy” explains the nature of energy: “Time is a finite resource, but energy is different…. It can be systematically expanded and renewed.”

Human energy can be restored by taking breaks throughout the day, rejecting the role of victim in every situation, and avoiding the constant distraction of e-mail. The HBR authors used these tactics in an energy management program for a group of Wachovia Bank employees. They outperformed a control group and reported substantially improved customer relationships, productivity, and personal satisfaction.

The book of Acts reveals other energy-management techniques. The church fathers organized their followers into specialized groups whose individual purposes fit uniquely into the overriding mission (see Acts 2:42-44). After dividing their labor, the leaders employed these four tactics to spark the growth of the church:

1.  They affirmed common values.  Some early churches met in temples to express their beliefs and corporately worship God. Feeding off each other, they boosted their spiritual energy and common purpose. Individual agendas had no place in worship.

2.  They connected and deepened relationships.  Many early believers made new friends or deepened existing relationships in the church. The church’s unity and energy strengthened when its members suffered together and when they locked arms to overcome challenges.

3.  They met people’s needs.  Jesus’ disciples prioritized the needs of those inside the church body as well as those in the community. The believers enjoyed camaraderie as they helped others. Feelings of usefulness and satisfaction filled up their energy stores.

4.  They personally reached out to new people.  The church grew through the power of personal testimony, and still does. When the public witnessed a miracle performed by one of the apostles, or when unlikely people became Christ-followers, word spread. The curious and truth-seekers flocked to investigate, further firing up the Christians.

People need a daily flow of energy. I believe the church fathers understood this when they connected their members to an unlimited fountain of organizational energy: each other.


Guest Post by Tom Harper: 13 Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves

The following is a guest blog by Tom Harper, Publisher of and President of the Society for Church Consulting.

Every leader needs to ask introspective questions. Several of the ones on the checklist below have caused me to reevaluate not just where I am, but who I am. They are in no particular order.

As this year unfolds, now is a great time to recalibrate yourself.

1.  Is narcissism 90% of Twitter?
I mean come on. How can I really follow and read what 1,736 people have to say? Isn’t it really all about having an audience of my own? So then, what is my motivation for doing it?

2.  Is social media your newest time-waster?
In a recent blog post, Seth Godin wrote, “I’d like to posit that for idea workers, misusing Twitter, Facebook and various forms of digital networking are the ultimate expression of procrastination. You can be busy, very busy, forever. The more you do, the longer the queue gets. The bigger your circle, the more connections are available.”

3.  Are we insulting Jesus with all the books and blogs denigrating his church?
I’m reading a thought-provoking book called “Why We Love the Church.” The authors ask this same question.

4.  Do you lead your organization too softly?
Humility is honorable, but is it time to shake things up and perhaps lose a few friends for the sake of the vision? Why not be bolder?

5.  Are you blinded by your own vision?
Is it time to get a new one, even if the old one was unique – though not yet achieved?

6.  Is it time for you to make a personal leadership change?
Maybe you’ve done your best and the ride has come to an end. Leaving may be exactly what you and your organization need for rejuvenation.

7.  If you were hired to replace yourself, what would you do differently in your job?
Zero-base your position. What would you do if you started from scratch? Why aren’t you doing it now?

8.  What excites you these days?
Why aren’t you doing more of it? Maybe your followers would be more enthused if you were.

9.  Do you need to be more accountable to someone?
Someone needs to know what’s going on in the world of your heart. God often speaks to me frankly through my wife and close friends.

10.  What do you pray about?
Is it the same thing all the time? Is it always about yourself?

11.  Is your near-term future one big question mark, or do you have a plan?
Our God is a God of plans. Think two or three years out – what’s your next destination?

12.  Who was the last person you witnessed to that accepted Christ?
We are called to make disciples. Is it time to hone your skills or simply step out of your comfort zone?

13.  Do you read enough books?
It’s hard to grow without putting new ideas into your head. I get inspired by books on leadership and management. They encourage me to try new things.