The Four Disciplines of Getting Things Done, Part 1

A great strategy without execution is merely wishful thinking, a dream on paper that is never translated into real life. I have found that many leaders, organizations, and ministries struggle with execution, with actually getting things done.

The book Four Disciplines of Execution has provided a sticky mental framework for me on leading teams to execute. Over the next couple of posts, I will share “four disciplines of getting things done.” I have seen these four disciplines bear fruit with ministries and teams I have led and am leading.


Many churches and organizations run after too many goals or initiatives at a time. Thus, they never realize the power of focus, of leveraging resources and people toward an overarching and important goal. Instead of having a list of 10 things, have a list of 1-2 really important goals. Run after these hard for a season. And once they are accomplished, effectively embed them into the regular and essential ebb and flow of work. Some questions emerge:

But how do you focus on 1-2 important goals when there are other important aspects of the ministry or organization?

Just because something is not the priority for a season does not mean it is not important. The regular, ongoing aspects of the work/ministry are absolutely essential. But raising an initiative to the top for a season of sustained focus will always rally a team around a clear direction.

One possible way to think of the wildly important is to imagine the current ebb and flow as 80 percent of each team member’s work. The additional 20 percent of energy is allocated toward the wildly important goal. Once the goal is complete, it is moved into the ongoing ministry/work and you have a healthier and more effective “new normal.”

From a church perspective, the wildly important goal may be an initiative: launch a campus, start a church, serve our city over the next several months, launch X number of new groups. Or it could be a value you are seeking to further drive into the culture: hospitality, worship, etc.

Why don’t more leaders do this?

Admittedly, it is risky. It feels much safer to hedge your bets and focus on a plethora of things. When you focus on a few at a time, you feel like you put your leadership on the line for everyone to see. The reality is that focusing on everything is more risky. Because few great things are accomplished when everything is the priority. When everything is the priority, nothing really is.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

Read more from Eric here.

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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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I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
— Troy Reynolds
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!

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