Over the years I have worked with lots of younger leaders and there has been this ongoing debate about the merits or harm of multi-tasking. I have heard numerous leaders, especially the younger, tell me that they can listen to music, watch television and work simultaneously; or check email and listen to a speaker simultaneously. What I’ve read recently has begun to increasingly say it just ain’t so!
But there is one thing I’m learning that really is so (regardless of your age) and that is that you need to cultivate the habit of being multi-focused. Multi-tasking, maybe not. Multi-focusing, definitely yes.
With that in mind, here are four focuses of a leader.
Focusing on your Lord
As a Christian leader, Jesus needs to be your primary focus. Leadership is essentially about him, not about you, the mission, or the people. When we loose sight of him, it’s the beginning of the end of truly biblical leadership. He needs to be the why we lead, the how we lead and the where we lead people. It is his church, his vision and his mission. I think Hebrews 12:2 says it best, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.” (ESV) He is the founder and perfecter of not only my walk with Him, but also my work in Him. It is as I am led by Him, empowered by Him and honoring him that my leadership as a Christian will become what he intended.
Focusing on yourself
As we keep Jesus central, we now need to pay close attention to ourselves --understanding ourselves, disciplining ourselves, leading ourselves. The key to being able to lead others well is in leading yourself well. There is a huge emphasis in 1Timothy 3 about leading yourself…about inward character, about fruit of the spirit…“above reproach, sober-minded, self-controlled, gentle.” In fact, this favorite chapter on leadership for many is long on what the leader is and short what the leader does.
Among other things, this means stewarding your time, your energy and your gifting well. As a leader, you need to lead from strength and health… pacing yourself well, eating, exercising, resting and carving out regular time to hear from your Captain. As I coach leaders and conduct seminars I’m concerned about how many exhausted, discouraged and leading-on-empty leaders I encounter.
Focusing on your team
As John Maxwell says, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Things always go better as we build and work through teams (See Exodus 18).
As you are led, empowered and honoring him, and as you continue to lead yourself, you are now set to focus on the team that God has given you. Because of your initial and ongoing focus on Jesus and your stewarding yourself well, you have the right motives and healthy energy to shepherd and develop your team as growing disciples so you can equip and empower them in their roles and responsibilities.
If the focus is only on you--with inadequate, or no, focus on Jesus--you will tend to manipulate, dominate and use those under your care (rather than motivate them) for your own selfish purposes.
Keep your direct reports low (3-5) so you have the time and energy to truly care for those under your supervision.
Focusing on your vision
A leader is leading people from where they are to someplace else. What is your vision, your burden? What keeps you up late at night and wakes you up early in the morning? What’s wrong in the world for which God has given you a passion? What do you want to change, give birth to or get rid of? You need quality time to think about your vision, put words to your vision and prepare to rally people to your vision. People follow leaders because they respect their leaders, and are and are excited about where their leaders are going.
The chances of you achieving your God-given vision will be directly proportional to allowing Jesus to lead you, staying healthy and strong by leading yourself well and genuinely caring for those whom you lead.
I’m convinced we can only be the leaders God intended as we:
- Focus on Jesus
- Focus on ourselves
- Focus on the team
- Focus on His vision
For maximum fruitfulness and productivity: up with “Multi-Focus” and down with “Multi-Tasking.”