One of the best business books I’ve ever read was written by Jim Collins. It was called, “Good To GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t.” It’s a superb business book that details research on 11 corporations and how they became great after years of being good. It became an instant bestseller. He had previously co-authored, “Built To Last: Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies.” Another bestseller.
In “Built To Last,” Jim coined the word BHAGs (pronounced bee-hags, short for “Big Hairy Audacious Goals”). You have some of those, don’t you? Everyone should, and every church must. In the book, he shared that all of the highly visionary companies had bold missions they were trying to accomplish. If you haven’t read it, you need to get it.
In “Good To GREAT,” Jim talks about Level 5 leaders (“someone who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will”) and, along the same lines of the BHAGs from his previous book, this time he uses the analogy of a “bus” to make his points. Here’s a quote: “We expected that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage “People are your most important asset” turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”
It might be a BHAG, but I’d like to use Jim Collin’s analogy of the bus and make some applications to pastors, church leaders and the churches we serve.
“Plateaus are not bad. They are simply times God gives us to catch our breath and get ready for the next hill.”
If you are going to go from good to GREAT, you need to:
1. Make sure you’re on the right bus. If God called you there, stay there. Getting off a bus, especially while its moving, can be very dangerous. Pastors (and people) who hop from church to church, like people hopping from bus to bus, rarely make as much progress as they would have made had they stayed. Quite often they end up getting hurt, too.
2. Make sure you’ve got the right people on the bus with you. If you don’t like the people you’re working with, it won’t work. If they don’t like you, it won’t work either. Unity is more important than ministry. In fact, unity provides the platform for ministry.
3. Make sure you get the right people in the right seats. Some people don’t need to get off the bus, they just need to be re-directed to another part of the bus.
4. Make sure you can help people get off the bus. Some growth comes faster through subtraction than addition. Don’t be afraid to say “good-bye.”
5. Make sure you’re headed in the right direction. If the driver falls asleep at the wheel, the bus wrecks and everyone is affected by it. Paul told Timothy “watch your life and doctrine closely” (I Timothy 4:16).
6. Make sure you know the bus can’t run nonstop. There are times for initiating growth and times for accommodating it. Plateaus are not bad. They are simply times God gives us to catch our breath and get ready for the next hill … or valley.
7. Make sure you don’t try to outrun someone else’s bus. The very idea of racing buses is absurd. (Why do so many preachers and churches try to do it?)
8. Make sure you don’t try to look like someone else’s bus. Every church has its own personality. I’ll save you the hassle … you’re not going to be the next Saddleback, Southeast, or North Point. Don’t even try. Just be who God called you to be and give Him everything you’ve got.
9. Make sure you keep your eye on the road ahead. A driver getting up to go back in the bus, while it’s moving, to visit or take a poll on which exit to take next, is making a deadly mistake that will affect everyone on the bus. Too often, many pastors do the same thing.
10. Make sure you stay humble. Level 5 leaders (pastors) are to be humble servants, not harsh taskmasters. You don’t need to go back in the bus and negotiate every conflict, right every wrong, be involved in every decision, etc. Your assignment is to drive. Let others handle the other stuff.
11. Make sure you are aware that every road you take will not be smooth. No one has a smooth ride no matter where they minister. There will always be potholes to avoid, detours to take, bridges out and bumps along the way. And you’ll always be amazed at the amount of road constantly under repair as well as the new roads being built.
If you’ll take those principles to heart and apply them to your situation, you and your church won’t go from good to great overnight, but you can sure go from where you are to someplace better.
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
Barry Cameron is a devoted father and husband, bestselling author, dynamic communicator, and Senior Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church. Crossroads has a gorgeous, 150-acre campus in Grand Prairie, Texas. Barry’s latest book, The Road to Financial Freedom, came out in the fall of 2020 and is available on Amazon. It’s another game changer for individuals and families who want to fix their finances once and for all.
Barry and his wife, Janis, have three children: Katie, Matt and Kelli. A daughter-in-law, Lindley and a son-in law, Johnny. They also have two grandsons, Will and Levi. Their family has been completely debt free since November 15, 2001.
Crossroads Christian Church has been debt free since November 9, 2008.