Monday, October 23, 2006


Willie Mays was right on when he said "It's easy to go out and be good once in a while. The magic is to do it every day."

As you are developing competence, develop another "c" - consistency. With competence and consistency comes credibility. Your leadership level grows as you consistently add value to others over time.

On both a personal and corporate level, you have to be consistent. As a pastor you are an important symbolic figure. When people see something significantly “different” about you, they tend to question all that they believe they know. Consistency is reassuring. Your behavior can either bestow or withdraw legitimacy. The world is too unpredictable. Leaders should not be.

Consistency is also important to your ministry. When the worship experience is unpredictable people become hesitant to invite others. They don't know whether the service will be up, down or sideways. They don't know whether the teaching will be good, bad or indifferent. One of the bigger questions on the mind of a potential "bringer and includer" is "Will I be embarrassed if my friend comes." When the answer is clearly "No" you have upped the possibilities for friends inviting friends significantly.

Once you arrive at an acceptable level of competence, turn your attention to benchmarking and reinforcing that new level. Better to consistently deliver a 7 than to deliver a 9 one week, a 3 the next, and a 5 the next.

Consistency is one of the things that separates great leaders from average ones, and great ministries from average ones. Can people count on you to deliver? Can they count on the ministry to deliver? Is the impact predictable?

Here are some things I have done to try to develop consistency in ministry....

• When I uncover a "killer" message idea I try to think of how I can develop a series out of the idea, instead of just a single message. Sure, I could "load up" and hit a home run if I packed one message with a concentrated dose. But I could also deliver several weeks of consistently meaningful truth if I spread it out.

• When a worship team has come up with a great worship set, I have made a mental note. What were the songs? Maybe that set should be executed regularly. At one point I asked a team to get 10 songs down cold, and only use those songs for a period of time. By narrowing their focus they were able to bring about a more consistent worship presentation.

• When I see someone doing something right (a greeter, usher, etc.) I try to reinforce their behavior, "This is where I’d like you to be standing every week" or "If you keep smiling like that, there are going to be a lot of happy people around here." Believe it or not, people don't always know the level of performance you are looking for. When they know, they can start to turn their attention to consistently delivering.

• When I discover a "special" kids ministry person, I try to position them for maximum impact. Don't schedule them for the class or service that is poorly attended. Schedule them for the highest leverage. And for consistency in kids ministry, better to have someone serve a class of kids every week than to have several teachers with varying levels of competence rotate each week.

Consistency involves pushing yourself when you'd just as soon "mail it in." The difference between great leaders and average ones is that great leaders don't quit at quitting time. They stick to their knitting. They go the extra mile. They deliver. Consistently.

There is a relationship between preparation and pressure. Chuck Knoll, former coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, put it pretty well when he said “Pressure is something that you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Mary Matalin is a political advisor and author. Her father often reminded her that only one thing separates successful and unsuccessful people. "It isn't money or brains," he would say. "It's confidence. And what creates confidence is three things: being prepared, having experience, and never giving up."

“Preacher’s panic” on Saturday night could stem from spiritual warfare. But is can also come from personal insecurity derived from lack of preparation. Choose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. Do what is necessary to do what is necessary.

Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.

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