Preparation. We know that we must, but we wish that it weren’t always so! Am I right, church planters? My high school Latin teacher insisted that to define most anything, a thoughtful student must go back to the Latin. Pre means “before” and pare means “to furnish or supply.” Consequently, prepare means “to make it before you give it.” As a church planter who is used to operating in a state of flux at best or in a state of chaos more commonly, you set up everything – you get “your ducks in a row” – before you execute a plan. You make your pitch in your head. You visualize it. You assemble all its parts. You piece it together before you do it, show it, speak it, or “pull the trigger.”
Methodical preparation is a part of American lore. Benjamin Franklin is famous for his pithy advice: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Consider what I hope are a few thought-provoking principles of preparation as you function in your crucial role as a ministerial entrepreneur:
- Define your endgame in order to understand your objectives.
- Consider precedents so your planning will benefit from time-tested solutions.
- Wise leadership is contingency oriented and always identifies the valid, alternative routes.
- Seek to understand clearly the interests and motivations of those you endeavor to reach.
- Setting your strategy will help you determine the manner, format, and tone of your actions.
- Delineate a timeline with key milestones, but don’t let the timeline be a cruel taskmaster.
- Assemble your team with sensitivity to each person’s gift mix, experience, skill, personality, and passion.
- Sketch out literally the presentation of your message, plan, or proposal and share it tangibly with your coach, closest teammates, and overseers to check its effectiveness as well as to increase your own confidence as a leader.
- Value cross training (i.e. studying other leaders in a variety of fields) as a means of learning how to be a better preparer and more effective leader. As Rick Warren loves to say: “All leaders are learners.”
You can toss the Latin dictionary, but don’t fail to plan!