Part of your job as a leader is to speed it up when it needs speeding up. That is something we must have the skills to do. Some people, maybe most people, will go too slow when doing something essential and if we perceive something is going too slow we need to pace set as leaders. Most humans are not good at setting their own pace – they go too fast or too slow, mostly too slow. We need to work out the right speed as leaders, and prepare our people to go at that pace too.
The most important skill in speeding up the pace for a task in your organization is empathy. You have to be able to understand what pace the people around you are going and what speed they would actually be more comfortable going. A super-dooper speeder-upper understands that pace is done by people, so he learns about the people.
Now, he does not take the pace from other churches, other people, other businesses, but from what the Lord is showing him and what the people can do. But if you are needing to change, refocus or handle a problem pace is so important.
When the lockdown started I knew I had to get my people online. I had to get the Word of God into them, I had to get them hearing notices because they were not getting a notice sheet anymore, I had to get them out of panic and walking forward at a dignified pace. I needed to speed some things up for people. You need to speed up some processes!
Amazon Prime can deliver anything you want in the UK next day! So when your team takes three weeks to reply to an enquiry about whether your church is online, you have failed that person in their mind. They are comparing you not just to other churches, but to other companies, and other experiences they have had! If another church had a more streamlined website they might have gone there.
One of the biggest hindrances to the pace of change in any environment, but maybe in a particular way so big in most churches is the history of the group – “this is the way we have always done it”. There are people in your church whose minds must be changed for you to progress, and that can take time. You can go too fast, but often we are going too slow and need to speed things up. I believe nearly every church in the UK should be growing faster, not slower. You need to speed up the pace and inject that faster pace into your people! Be fast, but not harried and hurried! People need your message, they need you to contact them, they need you to have some pace about you. When lockdown started, our team called over a thousand people, at least eight hungred of them twice. I did not make many calls, I was working on technology, I was writing messages, I was sending emails, but as the leader I set the pace for those calls and injected some life into volunteers to get them done. I praised publicly those doing loads, I shared stories on our social media and in sermons about successes, and I increased the pace because that task was essential and time-sensitive. When you have time-sensitive tasks, you need to set the pace.
The only thing that should stop you moving faster is your integrity. Growing responsibly is important too! You should also pause to plan, and pay attention to details. This is all part of setting the pace. If the pause button is pressed, you as the leader should be tbe one pressing it. If something is working, you should be disseminating what is working and letting people know and celebrate that win. If something is not working, you should be stopping it and quickly. These are times you need to set the pace.
You need your empathy to know what pace people can handle as well. To be a good pace-setter you need to understand the speed your people can be fruitful and not harried. You need to up the pace, but not so much that people cannot have a healthy life-balance. There’s not really a right or wrong answer to this, you need to know that some people are superstars and can do a lot more than you might think possible. There is one volunteer in our church who does so much, and is at the top of his game in business. I have often asked his wife – do you see your husband enough, because if not, I will take church responsibilties off him, but he really is that fast! Other people if I put that workload on them as volunteers it would be unkind of me. You need to understand people to be able to set a pace. It is that simple.
I like being around superfast people – people who can see what needs to be done, people who can set a pace, people who can move things forward. But I am empathetic enough to know not everyone is like that. I am not being judgemental here, I am just remind you that people are not all the same. Some people take a while to catch on, but when they do they will be the most loyal people you have. You cannot burn them out at a pace that for someone else would be fine. Move things faster, and let those people handle things that are less time-sensitive.
In the Bible, there are two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is straightforward time, the hours, days, months and years as they pass. Kairos is an appointed time for something – the moment where things have to be done. We all have kairos moments given to us by God’s grace, our job is to recognize them and get the pace going. If you change things too quickly, no one will ever agree and you will cause resentment. If you change things too slowly you will not be able to do anything of value. You have to learn how to set the pace.
In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he said that timing is one of the keys to having a great company. It’s also vital to a great church. You need to know when things are changing and respond in the right timing, you need to know when things are an urgent threat, you need to know what to do. It’s not a question of going at one speed or another, it’s going at the right speed because things are changing.
If it is a time of slow, go slow, let the people rest and heal. In a time of fast, set the pace and make sure people know why it needs to be done fast. Big changes with no time sensitive nature, you can take them slowly. You need to develop this skill.
Next week, I will give you some very solid and practical advice to speed things up just slightly. You would be amazed how much a small increase of pace can change everything.