Remaining Engaged in the Middle


How can leaders inspire and renew engagement when they’re in the middle?

Leadership, at the beginning, is exciting because of the way it is shiny and new.  The vision has been set, and it’s easy to focus on serving as everyone reaches forward. People rally around with enthusiasm and energy. The way appears clear, and it’s exhilarating.

And then, there’s the end.

At the end, leadership has been tested and succeeded. The goal is close. It’s within grasp. Everyone has navigated through and can tell stories with a bit of relief and wisdom. Leading at the end has the promise of reward.

Sometimes it’s easier to lead at the beginning and at the end. But leading in the middle can be a struggle.

Leading in the middle is where true engagement is tested.

In the middle, the shiny newness of the beginning has been worn down. Enthusiasm has been tempered by reality. The vision is set, but the way isn’t as clear as it first appeared. Doubt causes pauses.

In the middle, the end is much too far away to see. More failures than successes make the stories less affirming and more convicting. Any reward seems too premature to accept. Fatigue sets in.

Leaders and those who follow might feel useless in the middle; their strength is waning, and energy is drained. Effectiveness is questioned. Procrastination paralyzes. Busyness supersedes engagement.

How can leaders inspire and renew engagement when they’re in the middle?

How do you tell the difference between being busy and being engaged? Busyness goes in circles and is a symptom of procrastination. 

Engagement is a movement forward.  

10 Ways to Measure Engagement

Here are 10 ways to be sure you’re engaged, and not just busy – especially in the middle.

  1. Your prayer life is growing. Your innate desire is to take everything to God first. Prayer is the first line of defense in every situation.
  2. You spend deliberate time in solitude. You understand the power of retreating for the specific purpose of solitude, spending time alone with the Lord. Solitude brings clarity.
  3. Scripture answers a need. When challenged, you seek Biblical truth as an answer, and you are actively growing your arsenal by digging into the Word.
  4. You are encouraging others to move forward. You are fortifying others with your faith in God, and building them up as you inspire them to take action.
  5. You step in to help when others are struggling. You don’t just watch from the sidelines, instead you lean in to lend a hand.
  6. You point to God as the Helper. Understanding that nothing is under human control, you make sure those who you lead seek Him first. You lead with God-grounded confidence.
  7. You practice forgiveness and reconciliation. You actively let grudges and hurts go, and seek to reconnect with others, freeing up you – and others –  to focus on what matters most.
  8. You leverage failures to move forward. Instead of becoming discouraged and paralyzed, you anticipate failure, embracing the opportunity to learn and openly share what you’ve learned.
  9. You understand your role in serving others. It doesn’t matter what the title on your résumé says, you make a difference in the lives of others, wherever you (or they) are placed.
  10. Jesus is your leadership model. You aren’t seduced by the latest leadership fad. You may learn tactics from various leadership resources, but Jesus remains your trusted model on how to lead well.

Remaining engaged in the middle can be hard. The middle tests your leadership stamina.

However, if you can stay focused and keep practicing effective habits, your leadership abilities will grow, and you will see success all the way to the end.

Written by: Robert and Lori Ferguson

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