How Leading a Team is a Lot Like Cross-Country

I was never very good at cross-country in high school. Any time my picture was taken during a race, I looked like I was passing a kidney stone or had been kicked in the face repeatedly. I may never have won a race, but did learn a thing or two about running one.

In any race, you have to pace yourself. You can’t sprint the entire time and must know when to push a little harder and when to rest. It’s the same with leading a great group or team.

There’s a time to plant and push and a time to give space, rest, and be thankful. Over the year, these two sides should ebb and flow, one leading to the other. If you try to plant when your team needs a rest, they’re going to burnout- fast! If you try to rest when they need a push, they’re going to get bored and quit. I often find myself assessing the season as I prepare for meetings to make sure I’m doing the right thing at the right time. (I don’t always get it right.) What about you and your teams? What does your team need right now? Some rest? A challenge?

Here’s a rough overview of the seasons of ministry:
Sept.-Oct.: Cast Vision/ Plant/ Challenge
Nov.-Dec.: Rest, Give Space, Thank Your People
Jan.-Feb.: Cast Vision/Plant/ Challenge
April- May: Depends, possibly prepare for any summer initiatives
Jun.- Aug.: Some Planting and some Rest

Besides the months of the year, there are other factors that can play into the needs of your team.

  • If there are college students on your team you should be aware of finals. (What part of their semester are they the least stressed? Work then.)
  • If a person’s kids are in sports, what part of the year are they the most busy? (When are they between sports? Work then.)
  • Be aware of upcoming holidays. (Sometimes it’s good to schedule a meeting a few weeks before or after a holiday).

 Assessing Your Team Energy:
Using the same chart you might see at a doctor’s office to describe pain, which smiley face would you use to describe where your team is right now? (Think energy level, excitement, commitment)  pain chart

  • Is there one person on your team or in your group who’s especially discontent right now? (They’re probably a person you need to focus on)
  • Is there one person especially excited about your team? (They’re probably a person you need to invest in)

When you find your team’s energy and attitude dropping, there’s one clear way to improve their mood: thankfulness. Take some time to write your team a letter or note and thank them for their service. Let them know why you appreciate them and how what they do matters.

The Goal:
I want people to serve at a pace they can keep up for the long term. When it comes to helping people serve and lead, I’m looking for marathon runners, not sprinters.  

The Flash 2