Several years ago, in a class led by Dr. Russell West at Asbury, I shared my fear of becoming stagnant and losing my passion to keep growing. Because of the human tendency to settle, preventing this fear from becoming reality requires intentionality and constant awareness.
Here are five ways leaders avoid stagnation …
1. Follow Jesus.
If you follow Jesus faithfully and obediently, there will be no stagnation. The life of following of Jesus is an ongoing, lifelong process called discipleship—becoming more and more like Jesus, our Master. Disciples are learners, apprentices. If we are growing as disciples of Jesus, we will not become stagnant.
2. Develop your gifts.
Next to the spiritual disciplines (practices of disciples), nothing motivates me like reading (or listening/watching to audio/visual resources). Leaders are learners. They constantly work on developing their gifts. Developing gifts includes learning new and/or better ways of doing things. The challenge, though, is to carve out enough time for it. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary to keep growing and to avoid stagnation.
3. Engage and disengage.
Leaders must practice a healthy rhythm of engaging and disengaging (work and sabbath). My guess is that leaders who become stagnant and burn out do too much engaging and not enough disengaging. Disengaging involves daily, weekly, and annual breaks as well as things like getting enough sleep, and doing things for fun.
4. Prioritize relationships.
Life isn’t just about work. Relationships matter, especially family relationships for those who are married and/or have children. Cultivating relationships helps leaders stay healthy and avoid stagnation.
5. Shake things up.
Shake things up, periodically, by changing your routine. In weight lifting, it’s called the “confusion principle”—after a period of time, your muscles become resistant to your routine. To spark growth, you have to change your routine. And always look for better ways of doing what you do. Never settle for the status quo or for what’s comfortable.
What’s missing? What helps you avoid stagnation?