Tension is Good


“I just want to know how you do it.  How do you listen to all the conversations and see the it all from the 30,000 foot level?  After watching an amazing video by Andy Stanley, “The Upside of Tension,” my assistant, Tanisha, wanted to know how do you keep a healthy tension of moving the church forward, while maintaining value for the numerous individuals.

I want to empower and support everyone while executing the vision of the church in the most efficient, productive manner possible.  I have a lot of wins in these areas…and failures.  Since both exist in the vortex of growth and progress in relationship with people and feelings, the tension never ends.

I told her that I totally agree with Andy Stanley – Tension is good.  A rubber band laying on a table is ineffective and it doesn’t serve its purpose.  But when tension is placed on it, it fulfills its purpose, it brings things together and it has the potential to propel objects forward.  If I can do my job effectively, than it is not eliminating tension.  Rather, it is harnessing the potential of it to be a catalyst for growth.

There is a fine line between healthy and unhealthy when constant tension is applied.  I am learning that the view from the 30,000 level is challenging.  It is one thing when you make a decision and you say, “I own it.” (Love it when people do this by the way)  Take that same ownership and apply it to an organization where your decision affects over 120 staff people, their families and a congregation of 10,000 people.  Now, the tension is real.

Here are some nuggets I have learned in leading and the tension that comes with it:

  • The “Yes” and “Yes” decision is still a win.  Decisions these days are not right and wrong.  They both are right but you need to choose the “better” of the two.  This tension can be paralyzing or this can encourage you that you are moving forward.
  • You can communicate effectively.  When you make a decision, somebody is going to feel like they should have received better communications.  Sometimes that is justifiable and I need to be better at determining “who needs to know.”  Sometimes, it isn’t in their scope to be brought in.  This tension is always in my viewfinder and is one of my biggest growth tracks to date.
  • Decision making is best supported by collaboration and feedback.  We have tremendously gifted staff and key leaders who speak into the growth of GFC.  Why would I not invite their input, ideas and insights into decisions?  The tension in cultivating collaboration and feedback is challenged by timing and expectations of those providing it.
  • You do have time to listen.  Everyone wants to feel valued. (I know I do!)  Taking time for someone to share their story and thoughts doesn’t slow you down as a leader.  It gives you real time application of what you decision did for that person.  Sometimes it’s a win, sometimes you challenged them and sometimes…well, you just blew it.  The tension always runs that your decision affects real lives and you have to own it.
  • You can do you best.  There is a price tag for being a high level leader.  You pay for it in your relationships, commitments and ownership.  In the end, you do your best and continue to grow.  Every day, I pray that the Holy Spirit would lead me in my thoughts, words and actions.  Because of that, you would think I “succeed” every day.  Far from it.  I still make mistakes – where He is God, I am a fallible human.  The tension is that I want to do the very best I can to lead our church to reach more people for Christ.  At the same time, valueing and empowering people along that journey to grow in their own relationship with Christ.

The tension is me.  The tension never goes away.  The struggle is real.  God continues to grow me.



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