Managing Tensions – Systematic vs. Immediate

For the last year I have had an art piece up in my office, which captures one of the greatest tensions in ministry. I am not really an “art” guy – this is the only piece of art I have ever wanted. It is a mosaic piece that shows two fighters. Each fighter has a distinctive – one represents being driven by heart and the other represents being driven by mind. The heart reflects a desire to do what is right immediately in the moment. The mind reflects a desire to have a clear system and process that creates sustainable ministry.

One of the greatest tensions in any team environment is the balance between being systematic or immediate in our actions. I call it a tension because we must offer both systematic and immediate attention to our teams, our volunteers and those that we serve if we hope to flourish in what we do. The fight between mind and heart is a strong one – and more than likely you fall to one side of this tension.

The Systematic Approach – there is a machine, a process that guides all you do. The system drives advancement and progress for your team. This approach leans heavily into the strength of our mind and often pushes the heart to the backseat. In the moment this can come across as cold, but in the long run people are well served.

The catch? You work with a long-term approach but people have to actually want to be around for the long run. The more you lean into systems the easier it is for you to appear cool and aloof, which can hurt your ability to experience long term connections.

The Immediate Approach – the pressure in front of you deserves your first attention. Advancement is cultivated through attentiveness in the moment. This approach leans heavily into the strength of our heart and often pushes the mind to the backseat. In the moment people feel cared for and served, but excellence and follow through can be a struggle.

The catch? There is always something immediate that could take your attention away. Leaning fully into the immediate approach might be no better than treading water – you are staying afloat but not going anywhere. The immediate approach trades long-term results for what seems right in the moment.

Learn to manage the tension of these two extremes. Fight to leverage good systems while cultivating great connections. Remember:

One thought on “Managing Tensions – Systematic vs. Immediate

  1. Wow, this is a struggle I deal with all the time, Cory. Thanks for the great post. I need to print this out and put it in my Bible. Thank you, and I’m so glad we found each other on Twitter! Blessings!


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