When I played golf, my back swing was the hardest part for me. I had so many things to track: aligning my feet, my back, my legs; raising the club slowly; getting the club high enough over my head; making sure one arm was straight, the other bent over my head; in swinging, not letting my hands take over; keeping my eyes on the ball; making sure my lead shoulder dips while keeping my hips from rotating too much; holding still my body while my arms swing through; holding my head down after I’ve hit the ball.
All I truly wanted to do was to go up to the tee and swing away. Period. Forget the preparation. Not surprisingly, I easily gave the game up.
Preparation for a thriving leader is even more exacting than the backswing of golf. Yet how we prepare ourselves and our presentations ahead of time is 90% of the work. The adage is true: “Prepare to fail if you fail to prepare”[i] whether we are pastors, program directors or volunteer leaders.
For the meeting I am leading or overseeing: What is the purpose the group (meaning the team, committee or task force)? Is there a printed agenda; if so, is the agenda aligned with that purpose? Have I ‘networked’ ahead of the meeting (that is, made sure one or two people in the group are apprised of what’s coming)? Are people in other groups alerted should cross-team coordination be needed? Have I prayed for the participants on the team? Have I made sure minutes are taken and distributed afterwards? Are there clear action steps and people assigned to do them after a group decision has been made? Who will follow up to see if the work is being done? Thriving leaders ask these kind of questions ahead of time.
For the talk, teaching. presentation or sermon I’m preparing: Have I spent time studying the material adequately? What is the main point of the passage or material studied? Have I prayed over the passage or material ahead of the preparation? Is my presentation clearly organized (such as telling what the point is, developing it, and concluding it)? Have I prayed through the presentation? If needed, have I done a run through with someone ahead of the presentation? If needed, have i prepared visuals such as PowerPoint, slides, handouts, etc. that will help me as I present? Have I asked God to be glorified and the people taught in the presentation?
As important as these questions are, they rank less in value as a thriving leader’s inner life (click on Blog 4 The Inner Life) Thriving Leaders: Lessons From the Front Lines of Ministry (pt. 4 “The Inner Life”) Who you are says so much more than what we say or do. A thriving leader’s invisible inner life and visible outward ministry combine to be agents of God’s purposes in the church and the world.
[i] Attributed to Ben Franklin