There’s a balance we need to keep in leadership. The balance is between unnecessarily recreating wheels and being creative and innovative in creating new ones. Many leaders are stuck on one side or the other. Those stuck on the side of “never wanting to create new wheels” can end up missing what God might be uniquely calling them to do. The flip side are those stuck on never looking at what’s already out there. These leaders can end up spending too much time trying new things, few if any work, and can simply spin their wheels ultimately being ineffective.
It’s easy to be innovative when there’s no model to follow. But in most cases there is something out there already we can look to. And, we look for them with vigor. This is not a problem in itself, but it can rob uniqueness and innovation. There’s a balance to keep.
Innovation, to me, is about me individually seeking God for what He’s uniquely calling me to do. Sometimes that’s something that I’ve never seen or heard of before. Other times it’s the opposite. Either way, I need to be in tune with God. In other words, I want to be an innovator.
There are 2 times in leadership that I believe we need more innovation:
- When we face immediate pressures. These pressures can be anything from needing more space to pressures put on us from people. In these times we tend to automatically revert back to our own experience or what we’ve seen or heard of being done in another context. This is not necessarily bad, but I believe in these times we need more innovators. In these times I ask myself two questions: What are we seeking to protect, promote or encourage? What’s gained and what’s lost in this decision?
- When we’re dealing with unhealthy cycles. These cycles can be people church shopping, hyper consumerism, generational chasms in our churches…anything. In these times we tend to not fight the battles to correct these cycles in our people and continue doing the same things. In these times we need more innovators.
There is a price to pay for innovation though. I’ve seen it play out in two major ways:
- Churched people not agreeing. I’ve found that this brings people to question us. There is a distinction in this though. Instead of humbly asking questions, they question the decision. This can be tough to decipher through and can even cause confusion, but this is where a true “innovator” can stand firm on God’s calling.
- Being caught on the defensive. When we are doing things differently, people tend to ask why we’re not doing the things they are used to. This puts us on the defensive, forcing us to explain why we’re not doing something. Innovators will change the focus from the negative to what they are protecting, promoting and encouraging and they do so because they firmly believe God is calling them to those things.
This comes from a webinar I did yesterday for the Southern Baptist Conference in the state of Texas on Innovation and Implementing New Ideas (to listen to that, click here). If you haven’t checked out some of the things they’re doing to train and equip their leaders, you should check it out. They are doing many great things.