It was 30 years ago. May 7, 1986. The final leg of our move was completed. The adventure for our family of five was about to begin. We pulled our Ryder moving truck into the driveway of our rental home. Cape Coral, Florida. Excited. Nervous. Anticipating. Expecting. Fearful. Eager. Called.
Called to start a church in a southwest Florida growing community of 48,000 people. Two other couples in our support team. Two denominational agencies–each giving one-fourth financial support. Dreaming of such an opportunity for years. Now a reality.
Fast forward three decades. So many stories that could be told. Thousands of relationships. Dozens and dozens of principles learned about leadership and life. I choose to share only three leadership learnings from the last three decades.
1. Determine Your Brand – After surveying 200 homes in face-to-face interviews, many interactions with young families at our children’s school and rubbing shoulders with parents out on the soccer field sidelines, we envisioned the end. Helping unchurched families experience the fullness of God through a contemporary, relevant, authentic and down-to-earth church.
Some of the finer nuances and expressions have changed over the decades, but thirty years later, Cape Christian is still known for all of the above. We become what we are intentional about. Our vision determines our mission and the practice of our mission determines our reputation or brand—what we are known for.
What is true of a church, a business or any other organization is also true of us individually. We must determine our brand. When it’s all said and everything is done, what do we want to be remembered for the most? What do we want our spouses to say about us? Our kids? Our neighbors, friends, employers, employees, co-workers? You can determine your brand from the start.
2. Persistence is Mandatory – There is no other way to say it. You won’t see good long term results without persistence. Some look at Cape Christian thirty years later and imagine an overnight success. Not at all. Persistence was mandatory. Nearly 2,000 coming to worship each weekend didn’t just happen. It started with an average of 65 the first year. 91 the second year. 126 in year three.
It took nearly ten years to piece together 48 individually-owned pieces of property to assemble three city blocks of property into our current 14 acre campus. Persistence. Prayer. Perseverance. Tenacity. Focus. Endurance. And not taking “no” as the final answer. It always looks easy after its been done. But there was nothing easy about it. You can only live your vision with stick-to-it-ness. Every project includes obstacles and barriers. Persistence is mandatory.
Jim Collins writes about the “flywheel effect” in Good to Great. Right on. Absolutely correct. The premise of the flywheel is simple. A flywheel is an incredibly heavy wheel that takes huge effort to push. Keep pushing and the flywheel builds momentum. Keep investing energy and eventually it starts to help turn itself and generate its own momentum–and that’s when an organization goes from good to great. Persistence is mandatory.
3. Leadership Partnerships are Seasonal – My default thinking used to imagine team members and partners working together for the long haul. I was wrong. People come and go. Leadership team members come and go. Those who join you and take you to one level, may not have the capacity or the competency to get to the next level. Or they may have experienced or learned what they needed for their next season of where God wants to use them. God has many people with many giftings and strengths. He brings some for a season. We rejoice when they partner with us. It’s rarely easy to see them go. But, I’ve learned to enjoy the seasons. I’ve seen the benefits of change and transition. Good things can result from variation and new leadership styles. Hang tight to the vision and the mission. Keep an open hand as to who God might bring to partner with you in reaching the vision. Leadership partnerships are seasonal.
Are there more than three learnings in thirty years? Yes. For sure. At least twenty-seven more. I’ll share a few of those in some future blogs. Stayed tuned.
Question: Which of the three learnings surprise you the most and why? Do you have a story of how one of these has played out in your life? I’d love to hear more in the comment section below.