Nitro Leadership

How fast can a leader walk 60 feet?

Professor Richard Wiseman has spent his life investigating studies mainstream research scientists avoid. For example he was poking around the observation that the pace of life is much quicker today than it was in the past. So he decided to measure the average time taken to walk 60 feet in major cities around the world. He was inspired by a study carried out in the early 1990s that showed our walking speed to be a reliable measure of the pace of life in a city, and that people in fast-moving cities are less likely to help others and have higher rates of coronary heart disease.

His findings of the fastest cities included Singapore in the number one spot, seven ahead of New York #8. I was surprised in some ways to see Dublin in the #5 position. Canada’s capital city Ottawa was #20 and the majority of the bottom ten were cities in the Middle East.

How fast do you walk 60 feet?

  • Are you a fast person in a slow city?
  • Are you a slow person amidst a fast paced culture?
  • Are you a fast leader in a slow organizational culture?
  • Or a slow leader in an organization going at light speed?
You can take Dr. Wiseman’s quiz here.

The majority of highly positioned Christian leaders are functioning like they are injecting nitro and it is taking it’s toll. (Oh wait, that’s coffee.)

Undeniably the pace of life is increasing in North America among Christian leaders. Why? Here is my list:

    1. Sadly there is competition among the parachurch ministries, and churches, leading to some serious, driven, work environments.
    2. Lack of resources have led many leaders to lay off staff and forced them to do much more with less.
    3. We have stopped caring for those we work with or who work for us. If congregations really cared about their pastors they would come alongside as loving brothers and sisters to solve the issues behind overtaxing expectations. I say this realizing that some of these issues are the pastor’s – others belong solely with the church.
    4. Underneath each ministry there is an unspoken, powerful question about relevance that makes leaders secretly uneasy and propels them into frenetic lifestyles as they pursue the next fad.
    5. We expect too much. Most leaders set such high standards for themselves they cannot even reach them – usually well beyond what those they serve actually expect.

Leaders should be concerned about the impact of a fast paced life. I admit, I like the rush of the city and the in and out travel schedule – but I have learned, it does take a toll.

The incidence of medical problems is on the rise among Christian leaders. The continuous struggle to meet deadlines, the need to continuously update themselves about the latest changes in their ‘field’ and the swiftness required to accomplish a task makes leaders stressed. The stress in turn lowers our immunity and makes us vulnerable to a large number of health problems. These can be simple skin problems such as a rash or other complicated medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes, heart problems and even nervous breakdown.

The fast pace of life causes a large number of family problems. Leaders are so busy in fulfilling their job requirements that they have very little time to spend with family. As a result the family structure is being shattered. Those who are married are getting divorced while those who are single have no time for meaningful relationships that might lead to the love. Leaders who are parents are prone to ignoring their children and as a result children are becoming distant from their parents and have little affiliation with their faith beliefs or interests.

Having just returned from my “selah,” – an intentional pause from a pretty hectic schedule – I realize how many leaders, like myself, need to slow down. The problems of the face paced life out weigh the meager benefits.

Lunched with John McAuley today and he spoke of Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” If we as leaders don’t do something about our pace – God may cause us to lie down. Both John and I have experienced this.

So what should our response be? Without over simplifying, we are to turn to Jesus. Christian leaders need to remember that Jesus promised us “rest” if we come to Him – not an endless list of expectations. For each of my five reasons above – leaders can be mentored and learn how to truly lead through challenges but it is highly personalized for each man and woman.

Work hard by all means, but make sure the pace is sustainable.

2 thoughts on “Nitro Leadership

  1. Was talking to another ministry leader about this today… in 2 Chron. 36, the ‘remnant’ of Judah is carried off to Bablyon. And then there’s this odd verse: “The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.” (v. 21). It seems that since Israel didn’t let the land rest every 7 years, and never celebrated a true “Year of Jubilee,” that God added up the missed years of Sabbath and forced them upon the nation. No wonder… ground does not produce when it’s overworked! God was renewing the soil.
    I sometimes wonder if the reason the church in the west is so fruitless these days is because we have overworked the “soil.” I wonder what may grow and flourish if we really embraced a principle of rest?

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