Build Energy Before Growth

Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a…

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.