Becoming a Servant Leader Through Strategic Thinking

Last week I gave a sketch of the Eisenhower Matrix, which has challenged leaders to focus on the most important things and to not allow the urgent to dominate and derail them. As a reminder, here is a sketch of the matrix:

EisenhowerMatrix

While many leaders have been served well with the thinking behind the framework, as Christians we must view the matrix through the lens of our faith.

We are servants first.

Without understanding your identity as a servant, leaders (myself included) can use the “important but not urgent” category as an excuse to isolate themselves and be unapproachable and unavailable to the teams they serve alongside.

Much of ministry to people is unplanned.

My friend Darrin Patrick has said, “The most impactful conversations happen at the most inconvenient times.” Some of the best interactions are not on the calendar. Some of the most holy moments are opportunities disguised as interruptions. Without that understanding, leaders (like myself) can loathe the urgent, and those great opportunities would be missed.

If you approach the matrix with the foundation that you are a servant and that God works in the midst of the urgent, then the matrix can be very helpful. After all, it is possible to be both a strategic leader and a servant leader. One does not need to negate the other. As you think about leading and serving your team, here are three thoughts about serving your team while simultaneously thinking more strategically about your time:

You don’t serve people well if you enable “urgent only” behavior.

There is a difference in being responsive to those you lead and enabling them to live with chaotic urgency. Some decisions and some conversations should not be “drive-by” or “drop-ins” because they won’t receive the focused time they warrant. We are serve our teams well if we help them move strategic conversations out of the urgent box.

The more conversations you move to the “important, not urgent” quadrant, the more energy you have for the “important, urgent.”

The “important, urgent” quadrant is where work gets done, where people are served in the midst of crises, and where we are able to respond to our teams. It is also the space that most overwhelms leaders. By moving some conversations to the “important, not urgent” box, leaders have more mental and emotional energy for the truly urgent.

If you don’t spend time in the “important, not urgent” quadrant, you are not serving the team well for the future

If you only live in the urgent boxes, you are not serving those you lead well. You are not developing yourself, not planning for the future of the organization, not evaluating, not prayerfully considering the development of your team. You are only thinking about today if you don’t invest time in the “important, but not urgent.”

Martin Luther said, “a Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.” We are servants first because He first served us. But we don’t serve well if we enable unnecessary chaos.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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