Ford Motor Company’s CEO, James Hackett, says he likes to think in the abstract and often considers problems along three time dimensions simultaneously, the “Now,” the “Near” and the “Far.” Likening the view to a bull’s-eye with those words in concentric circles his job, he says, is to manage and lead Ford in each of those circles to ensure success.
In my experience, it is rare to find a church leader who is skilled in all three dimensions. Most of us have a bias or strength in one, or maybe two dimensions. This is to be expected as different skills, mindsets, and priorities are required in each dimension. Further, there is an opposable tension between managing and leading in the Now and in understanding and shaping the Far.
Experience further suggests most church leaders are working in the here and now, just doing what is necessary to make next Sunday happen. This is understandable as the pull is toward the present, and church members’ demand and reward concrete results in the now. But, it also may help explain why most churches struggle to stay relevant.
No doubt, the near term is ambiguous and the far away is unknown. But, to be an effective leader you must address the challenges and opportunities residing in the near and far. So clearly, the church needs leaders who know how to lead and manage the Now, Near, and Far……leaders who can perform today, but also position the church for the near term and the far future.
Successful church leaders of the future will understand themselves and have an acute awareness of their time dimension preference. They will augment their capacity to lead and manage in all three time dimensions by surrounding themselves with people who fill their gaps. They will be able to navigate the unique requirements of each dimension by bringing to the table people with skills, experience, and biases in the Now, Near, and Far.
This “Tri-Dimensional Leadership” will require a new mindset, new training, and new practices for most church leaders. A new mindset that acknowledges the Pastor can’t effectively operate in all three time dimensions. New training that provides a way to assess time dimension strengths in staff and lay leaders. New practices that sees standing and ad hoc committees and teams put together based upon strengths in all three time dimensions.
Bottom line….in the future only leaders who can effectively think, move, lead, and manage in all three time dimensions simultaneously will create enduring churches.
Posted on May 28, 2019