One of the biggest problems in the church (and many other organizations) is our drive to obtain consensus before acting.
Consensus kills courage.
Very few good, innovative ideas gain consensus before a leader acts.
In fact, most great new ideas worth anything are inherently divisive.
Think about how different history would be if great leaders needed consensus from the people they led:
Moses would have left the Israelites in slavery
Jesus would have listened to the disciples and talked himself out of the cross
Peter would never have given up his kosher diet
The apostle Paul would have gone back to Phariseeism
Martin Luther would have waited for his bishop to approve
Martin Luther King would have delayed until legislators were sympathetic
Any time you’re seeking to bring about radical change, most people will think it’s a terrible idea.
And sometimes, they’re right.
But once in a while, they’re not. You should live for the ‘once in a while’ idea. They are the kind of ideas that change everything.
When it comes to courageous change, here are four things that are true:
Committees kill vision
Individuals are almost always more courageous than teams
The more people you seek to please up front, the less inspiring your idea will become
Leaders don’t always walk alone, but sometimes they have to start alone.
If you’ve got a really great idea, refuse to allow the ubiquitous love of consensus to kill your dream.
Here are some ideas to get you started if you’re handling a divisive, innovative idea:
Don’t ask the team for agreement, just get permission
Listen to people, but follow your gut
If you’re wrong, take full responsibility
When it emerges that you were right, be humble and invite others on the journey
I realize these ideas are controversial. I realize acting on them might get you fired.
But would you rather look back in 30 years with regret at how many great ideas were anesthetized by a visionless committee or group?
Would you rather look back and be satisfied that you did everything in your power to bring about change, even if it got you in trouble?
Of course, the third option might be that you successfully ushered in the change that changed everything. But I’d even settle for trying, failing and getting in trouble.
This is not an excuse to be a jerk, but is permission to be courageous.
And if you are looking for courage, few things will kill it faster than a drive for consensus.
The best idea only looks like the best idea after it wins.
So today, don’t look for consensus. Instead, be courageous.
What are your frustrations about consensus?