Less is More: Dealing with Sideways Energy in Your Ministry

I’ve posted about SIDEWAYS ENERGY before, but I wanted to bring this topic back up.

Are you busy but not intentional? Do you feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not getting any traction? Does there seem to be a lack of any kind of momentum in your organization? Could be you are dealing with way too much “sideways energy.” There is good energy and bad energy- and bad energy usually shows up as sideways… not because it is necessarily bad, but because it is usually a distraction.

We need to avoid sideways energy. It drives me crazy!

So what is Sideways Energy?

Sideways energy is showing up to work but spending two hours talking about what you should have done an hour and a half ago.

– Sideways energy is gossiping about your boss or co-workers.

– Sideways energy is procrastinating.

– Sideways energy is the same meeting eight times in a row regarding the same idea that still has yet to be implemented.

– Sideways energy is having three sales to close and not calling them back because you are asked to help clean up the office for the Christmas party .

– Sideways energy is a staff handbook that collects dust but took hours to create.

– Sideways energy is an organizational system that takes 4 weeks to move a sale through the process because there is too much bureaucracy.

– Sideways energy is a meeting with no follow up, action plan, next steps or implementation that everyone knew would be a waste of time but no one was willing to say so.

– Sideways energy is cleaning your office or cube instead of finishing the project that was due yesterday.

Paper shuffling is sideways energy.

– Dealing with the same problem multiple times is sideways energy.

Too many cc’ed emails is sideways energy.

– Creating new policies for the company that everyone knows will never be implemented is sideways energy.

Micromanaging is sideways energy. Lack of trust is sideways energy.

Brown-nosing is sideways energy.

Office politics is sideways energy.

And many times, the reason sideways energy becomes such a regular happening is because there is pressure coming from all sides within and around an organization- the very top, your boss, and those who you are leading. And the side seems to be the only place to find some relief and maybe focus on something, even if it is not the right thing to be focused on at the time. And growth can cause pressure that facilitates MORE sideways energy. Ultimately, this all leads to a lack of focus, which causes pressure because you choose not to deal with reality and instead want to focus on things that ultimately don’t matter.

How to combat sideways energy? 

  • First, realize it exists and will paralyze an organization.
  • Second, identity it and deal with it.
  • Third, measure your productivity and create a system that will help you determine how much sideways energy you are creating, both for yourself as well as for your team.
  • And finally, be clear on your goals and what the right kind of energy looks like for your team- if you model the right kind of energy, your team will follow in the same direction. Ultimately, use common sense.

Most of us can identify sideways energy in others, so being self aware and making sure we don’t allow ourselves to get caught up in sideways energy personally is really important.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick

In a nutshell, I’m an Oklahoma boy now residing in the South. I am a passionate follower of Christ, and have the privilege of leading and directing a movement of young leaders called Catalyst. We see our role as equipping, inspiring, and releasing the next generation of young Christian leaders, and do this through events, resources, consulting, content and connecting a community of like-minded Catalysts all over the world. I appreciate the chance to continually connect with and collaborate alongside leaders.

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I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
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

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