WWII General Erwin Rommel rightly earned the reputation as a fierce warrior. Like Robert E. Lee, he was a tactical genius and, like the Confederate, unfortunately fought for an unrighteous cause. Yet, while Rommel was a master strategist, he was also an insightful leader.
When Rommel had to lead his troops across the deserts of North Africa, he worried that his men’s morale would drop. He believed his army could become despondent trekking across what appeared to be an endless sea of hot sand. So, he sent a jeep ahead to place oil drums marking their progress.
Every organization has a goal and every leader needs to help those he or she is leading track progress in order to maintain morale. Many non-profits learned this lesson long ago. How many times have you seen a charity display a poster with bright red marking how much money they have raised?
I am a pastor and our church set a goal of 100 new unchurched families and 100 baptisms. That’s a pretty audacious goal for a church of 1000 in a small college town. Leadership had a plan to get there: train several hundred of our people on how to evangelize; set up a first time visitor table; meet the visitors after service; give them a gift certificate to a local restaurant; (yep, we’re bribing people for Jesus!) have staff members meet with them in their homes, etc. But just as importantly, we set up several posters around the church building noting our progress. We then made sure to celebrate the progress during our worship service.
The results have been amazing! We have actually grown during the summer (if you’re not a church leader, that’s not supposed to happen!). Certainly all glory goes to God but He expects His people to work (Matthew 28:16-20). All work will tend to produce better results if the task undertaken is performed with excellence.
Our success thus far has been achieved by prayer, developing a plan, casting a vision, getting buy in from our people, follow up and, just as importantly, placing the oil cans in the desert so that everyone involved can see the progress and celebrating it together. All of these steps are integral to success. You may have a goal and a plan to achieve it but do you have a constant visual reminder to help your team see the progress and celebrate it? If not, it’s time to start placing those oil cans in the desert.