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Issue #8: You Must Develop this Skill to Avoid Decision-Making Gaffes

Feeding & Leading the Sheep

This week’s newsletter helps pastors and ministry leaders consider an important skill that requires intentionality to cultivate and will protect against bone-headed decisions-making mistakes.

Dumbest Play in NBA History?

It is the 2018 NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers are heavy underdogs to the Golden State Warriors, one of the best teams in NBA history.

There are 4 seconds on the clock in a tie ballgame. Cavaliers guard, George Hill, is at the free-throw line with a chance to take the lead and perhaps seal an upset victory.

Hill missed the free-throw. But J.R. Smith, another Cavaliers guard grabbed the rebound under the basket.

What did he do?

He didn’t shoot it to take the lead.

He dribbled the ball out of the paint, and away from the basket, before his screaming teammates finally make him aware of the situation. But it was too late. The time expired.

Everyone in the arena and watching on television were shocked. Smith’s teammates stood in disbelief.

Cleveland had it, but missed their chance. The game went to overtime and Cleveland lost. They would lose 4 games in a row and get swept.

The entire momentum of the series changed on that one play.


What happened in that play?

One simple, but devastating mistake: Smith lost awareness of the situation.

He didn’t know the score of the game.

Situational awareness is a massive issue in sports, but it is more important in leadership.

Situational awareness is the capacity for understanding what is happening around you in the moment. It’s reading the play and its implications before you execute it.

Leaders that get this right avoid stepping into bad situations. They read the room. They understand how this decision over here effects a group of people.

Pastors and ministry leaders have to have a sense of how the morale is in the church or what the readiness of change a group is before announcing an initiative.

That’s situational awareness.

Point of Wisdom

Always having situational awareness helps you to avoid leadership mistakes.

Developing Situational Awareness

Here are some questions that will help you develop situational awareness and improve your decision-making:

  • Who will be affected by this decision? Are they in a good place? Should we communicate with them first before announcing the change?
  • How is the morale of the church? Will this announcement feel out of touch? Are people ready for this change?
  • Are there fractures on our team? Is there anyone on staff or leadership that seems to not be coming alone? Is someone isolated?
  • What problem does everyone know we have but I haven’t addressed or keep ignoring? Is this costing me credibility?
  • Is there something brewing that I need to address now? What pitfalls are around the corner that will only grow larger if I refuse to do something?
  • Do I have an accurate view of how things are going? Am I tackling the right issues? Am I spending time with the right people?

The lesson of situational awareness is reinforced to me every time I go for a run. I have a four-mile loop I run from my house and around the city. It involves running down streets with no shoulders, main roads with sidewalks with entrances to businesses, and neighborhoods.

This route forces me to watch my surroundings at all times. I look in multiple directions throughout my run to check for cars, making sure they see me on the road, or before running through crosswalks.

That is situational awareness.

Are you doing this as you lead your church or ministry?

Before making decisions, look around, check surroundings, be aware of what is going on around you. Then make a good decision.

Thanks for Reading!

I hope you enjoy reading the newsletters. 

Whenever you’re ready to go further, there are multiple ways you could work with me to grow in your leadership.

1. Pastor Cohorts. New cohort beginning in February of 2023. We cap the size of the group. Get signed up here ASAP. We’ve also had a large demand for a Student Ministry Leader cohort. You can now sign-up here (cap of 20 participants).

2. 1-on-1 Coaching. If you desire a more personal option, this approach is tailored to your church context and areas of growth. Starts in February. I’m only taking 5 in 2023.

3. Church Consulting. Those looking for help with a revitalization effort, setting new vision for the church, and developing systems, this option can be something to explore.