Cancer of the Attitude (Part Two)
In short, my life got structured. I cannot tell you how much peace and inspiration it has brought me. It's a funny thing about constantly educating ourselves; it inspires us to perform at new levels. I have come to see that those I admire have one thing in common: They never stop learning. Laziness cannot exist in the bright light of learning and growth.
I spent several years in my early twenties working as a professional fire fighter. First, we went through a fire academy that lasted close to a year. During that time we were taught not only how to do our job, but also the mindset we'd need to perform under intense circumstances.
One day, after a rather bad performance by our team, our instructor called us all together and said, "Men, you failed today because you hesitated. You have been trained enough that you knew what you should do but you lacked the confidence to rush in and do it." Then he said something I have never forgotten, "In this job hesitation will make your worst nightmare come true. It is the result of every mistake."
He went on to explain. Fires only get bigger and hotter. As soon as you know how to kill them, do.
I have found this to be good advice as a leader. How often have I put off a conversation with a staff member hoping that an issue will fix itself? How many times do we have to make tough financial decisions hoping that money will magically appear? The answers to the biggest decisions in my life were often clear as glass and yet somehow, I paused too often when I needed to act.
Now, I understand the need for wisdom. We need cool heads at decision time. But every leader I know has a story of how a problem they ignored grew from a whisper to a roar very quickly. Sometimes, leading people requires quick decisions.
I used to use the words "I'm processing" to postpone these. I now understand that isn't always wise. If I sense a problem with someone on my team, I choose to ask immediately, "Hey, do we have a problem?" And each time I ask, it takes two seconds into their response to know if we do or not. A wait-and-see approach isn't always the best way to deal with every issue in life. If a snake slithered underneath your bed, you would never say, "You know what? I can't see it right now so I'll deal with it later." No. You would deal with it now. And if you couldn't find the snake, you'd likely burn the house down trying. Hesitation can cause nightmares. But bold action when we know it's needed makes a huge difference.
These are just a few cancers of the attitude that I have had to watch out for. Yours might be different. But whatever is jeopardizing your attitude in ministry must be dealt with. Attitudes are of vital in the life of a leader. From them come our thoughts, dreams, and actions. Don't let your ministry become diseased because you didn't seek these out. Choose to exam your life before your tumors grow. Be ready to treat them with the right medicine.
What "cancers of the attitude" would you add to this list? What are the antidotes?
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Michael Cheshire is the senior pastor of The Journey Community Church in Conifer, Colorado.