If you’re old enough, you may remember the anti-drug abuse campaign: SPEED KILLS.
If you’re even older, you may remember the highway safety campaign: SPEED KILLS.
I do believe in strong, bold, courageous leadership. Oswald Sanders said:
“More failure comes from an excess of caution than from bold experiments with new ideas…A leader cannot afford to ignore the counsel of cautious people, who can save a mission from mistakes and loss. But caution should not curb vision, especially when the leader knows God is in control.”
That’s a great quotation from a great man, but I’m sure Sanders would agree with my observation that doing things too quickly gets leaders in a lot of unnecessary trouble. I guess I should know, as I’ve probably been guilty of all of the following mistakes at one time or another.
In leadership, SPEED KILLS when we:
(1) Give in to temptation too fast, without thinking about the long-term consequences. The essence of maturity is making decisions in light of long-term, not short-term, benefits.
(2) Decide too fast. The research behind the groundbreaking book, Pastor Unique: Becoming a Turnaround Leader (Lavern Brown, Gordon Penfold, Gary Westra), demonstrated, surprisingly, that the most effective revitalization leaders are NOT quick decision makers; they are actually careful, methodical (but decisive) decision makers.
(3) Implement change too fast. When implementing significant change – in some churches this could include changing a light bulb – the “Mr. Rogers Method” (“I like to take my time and do it right”) is helpful. Taking the time to do it right involves praying a lot, counting the cost, listening to critics, testing the waters, working through concentric circles of leaders, and seeking wise counsel.
(4) Listen too fast. I’m thinking of the story of the little girl chattering away to her father, who wasn’t paying much attention. When the accused father insisted that he really was listening, his daughter replied, “Then listen SLOWER!” I know a couple of poor listeners who are so anxious to respond that their mouths start moving when they’re still supposedly listening.
(5) Read too fast. Some things, like humorous social media posts, can be read quickly. But the Bible, great Christian books, and our own writing, should be read slowly and carefully. I just killed a portion of my beleaguered lawn by not reading the words “and grass” on what I thought was strictly a weed killer. SPEED KILLS!
(6) Forward emails too fast. I’ve been burned a couple of times by pastors who didn’t slow themselves down enough to read the emails I’ve sent before forwarding them on to others. This can easily become a “talebearer separating the best of friends” type scenario (Proverbs 16:28, 17:9).
(7) Speak too fast. It seems to be trendy right now to talk fast, casually and passionately. But the unchanging Book of James says:
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James 1:19
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
(8) Adapt/adopt/embrace trends too fast. Not every trend is bad and not every tradition is good. Some trends are downright great, in fact, like Indian food finally appearing in our American grocery stores. Other trends are foolish or downright evil. Leaders, of all people, with the eyes of God and man upon them, should carefully evaluate trends in light of their conformity to Scripture (1st) and their usefulness (2nd).
(9) Resign too fast. There’s a time to walk away from a ministry, especially if it’s damaging our health or our family. I’ve made some good departures and one notable premature resignation. I needed to move on, but I did it way too fast and have regretted it for many years.
(10) Work too fast and rest too little. I’ve been guilty of this so many times that it’s hard to know which story to tell. At about twelve years old I received a vacuum tube powered, high-fidelity amplifier kit for Christmas. (At the time, I was a real gun-slinger with my soldering gun.) Instead of beginning the project when I was well rested, as my parents urged, I stayed up most of the night on Christmas eve putting it together. The first time I plugged it in – about 6 am on Christmas Day – it blew out all the tubes immediately.
As leaders we can be bold and decisive without being rushed, frantic or careless.
SPEED KILLS, but walking with God at His pace is steady and sure.