Principle #2: Spend Regular Time in the Balcony

The view from the balcony

In their book, “Leadership on the Line,” authors Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky share a great leadership principle:  get off the dance floor and up in the “balcony.”  The dance floor represents the day to day pressures and commitments of leading your church, while the balcony represents a strategic viewpoint from where you see the overall picture of the church or organization.  It is in the balcony that you take time to plan, strategize, review, pray, and get a clear understanding of the big picture of your church.  It is the time spent in the balcony that gives you the clear picture of what to do on the dance floor. You need to take yourself out of the day-to-day “doing” of ministry and spend time “planning” what you need to do in ministry.  The balcony gives you perspective and informs what you should be doing and how you can be most effective in achieving your goals and God’s vision for your church.

To be effective in leading your church you need to move back and forth between the dance floor and the balcony.  But, with all the pressures of ministry, how do you spend time in the balcony?

  • Plan balcony time on your calendar.  If you don’t schedule it into your calendar, you won’t do it.  The pressures of daily ministry will keep you from spending any time in the balcony.
  • Plan a one-hour weekly review.  Schedule one hour on the first day of your work week as the first appointment of your day.  I schedule a weekly review on Monday mornings at 8 am each week.  This is an appointment just like any other appointment.  Do not allow anything to change this appointment.  During your weekly review you will want to look over your coming week.  What needs done?  When does it need done?  Schedule those blocks of time on your calendar.  Taking this one hour each week to plan out your week before starting working will enable you to be much more efficient and effective in accomplishing what is most important.
  • Plan a half-day monthly review.  Schedule a half-day block of time on the first work day of each month.  During this time, you look over the next 4-6 weeks in your schedule.  Focus on projects, appointments, weekly responsibilities, and schedule them in your calendar.  It is important to schedule time to do the projects that will move your church forward toward accomplish its goals and vision.  For example, if you need to train your greeters to be more effective, you would plan the meeting on the calendar, notify people about the meeting, and schedule the time to prepare for the meeting.  The monthly review helps us keep a focus on the important, as well as, the urgent in our calendars.  If we don’t plan time for the important, all you will have accomplished at the end of the month is the urgent.
  • Plan a 3-day “balcony” retreat.    Take all the resources you will need to plan the next year in the life of your church.  Go to a hotel and disconnect from your everyday routine.  Don’t answer the phone, texts, or email.  Simply focus on listening to God as you plan the next year in the life of your church.  You will want to plan your message series, major events, training events, and other activities that will help you accomplish your goals during the next year.

Pastors and church leaders get so involved in the day-to-day pressures of ministry that they rarely get a chance to see the view from the balcony.  Planning time into your calendar will enable you to see the big picture of where God is leading your church this year.  You will find that you will not only be more productive on the dance floor, but you will experience less stress because you have planned your dance well.

Questions to consider:

Do I currently have time set aside in my schedule for “balcony” thinking?

What is keeping me from spending time in the “balcony?”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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