The pastor sits at his desk pondering the next year at his church. When he began with this congregation, he was excited about the future. The people were enthusiastic about his leadership and he had limitless energy to respond to the challenges each day would bring.
But somewhere along the way, the culture of excitement and drive transformed into obligatory actions with unclear purposes. People stopped volunteering. Visitors rarely attended. The congregants seldom embraced a change — no matter how slight. In turn, the pastor stopped changing.
Years ago, it seemed impossible to lose. Now, that same pastor struggles to see a path to growth.
If he could only get inside the mind of his people, he feels like he could lead them more effectively and bring back the excitement that has long faded.
Although there are many possible reasons that an organization could find itself in this situation, Proverbs gives leaders some helpful guidance.
Wisdom’s actions in this Scripture focus on three core goals. These goals can pull a stagnant organization from a toxic spiral and turn a team from aimless meandering into mission-oriented achievers.
1. Build a strong foundation. The foundation of a team is its people. Wisdom knows that regardless of what happens in that house, if it does not have a strong foundation, it will crumble. The people on the team are the foundational issue of a thriving organization. The reason is simple: A good team can be redirected to a new effort more easily than a bad team can be re-focused on a better mission.
“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.” (Proverbs 9:1)
2. Build a healthy culture. After building a strong foundation, Wisdom sets the tone for a feast inside the house. The culture inside the walls is crucial for whatever happens outside the walls. A wise leader understands that the culture of the organization is the result of intentional planning. It is not merely the outcome of successes or failures.
“She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.” (Proverbs 9:2)
3. Build healthy and effective communication. Notice how Wisdom targets a specific audience. Then Wisdom uses an attractive appeal. It employs a clear call to action and then identifies a benefit to the action.
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.‘” (Proverbs 9:4-6)
When ChiefExecutive.net surveyed 174 executives over what feedback they would give their boss if they could do so anonymously, almost all responses focused on some kind of improved communication. The executives wished their bosses would “(1) be more transparent, (2) help us stay focused, (3) hold us accountable, (4) spend more time coaching and developing us, and (5) be decisive.”
The wise king who wrote the Proverbs understood this upside down business idea: The surest path to a more productive team is better communication from its leader.
Whether you are a pastor seeking to pull his church from listless existence or a CEO needing to energize her sluggish organization, understanding and following through on improved communication could be the most vital step you can take.