Most of us are familiar with The Pareto Principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. I first learned this principle as the 80/20 rule from John Maxwell who encourages leaders to identify the top 20% of producers and spend 80% of their management time with these people to develop them to their full potential.
As I recently rehashed this principle I began to think about the amount of time pastors spend trying to convince 80% of the normal people who attend their churches to be part of the unique 20% of the people who are helping lead their churches. Think about it for just a moment. We are constantly trying to persuade 80% of the normal people who are perfectly happy following, to become something they were never suppose to be…LEADERS.
Now I know that statement flies in the face of the traditional and current leadership trends, but why do we get so frustrated with normal people who are satisfied and fulfilled in following? It’s as if committing to be a passionate follower is a lesser calling than climbing the leadership ladders that we’ve been told to climb to in order become what God has called us all to be. Or has He?
Normal people can be a leader’s greatest asset if a leader will begin to understand the importance of navigating normal people right where they are at, instead of where they wish they would go. Here are some key insights about why normal people don’t want to lead in your church.
1) Normal People just want to follow. Great leaders attract followers, yet I think it’s safe to say 80% of our time is spent trying to get them to become leaders. You might be thinking, “Isn’t that the goal?” Well, I do believe a good follower, if they choose, will eventually become a great leader. On the other hand, from experience good followers are not necessarily looking to lead, but want to support a good leader and a healthy organization. Normal people like to be a part of something bigger than themselves. For normal people, it’s not about them being a great leader, it’s about a greater purpose!
2) Normal People don’t have time. “What a cop out!” You’ve said it, I’ve said it. Yet our culture is increasingly becoming more and more of a place where our time is tapped. The truth is, normal people’s time is valuable and they don’t want to waste it. Normal people will give a little over 2 1/2 hours per week to be involved at your church. That includes Sunday service. They don’t have time for your leadership meeting, training seminar or conference. They have just enough time to support, sustain and follow your leadership so you can lead a healthy church, so make the most of the 150 minutes normal people give you!
3) Normal People are leading somewhere else. Normal people have jobs and other responsibilities! When they come to church the thought of doing one more thing causes them stress. They could be a lead executive at their company, or the president of the local little league. In essence they are leading where Christ followers need to be. I believe this is where the future paradigm of leadership must shift into. The goal is not getting normal people to give their life to lead in the church. The goal should be as Christ followers to give their lives away where God has strategically placed them to lead!
Continue to focus on the 20% of your people who you would consider your core, but don’t make the mistake of looking at 80% of the normal people as your weakest link. There is strength in having great followers.
What do you think about my observations of normal people?