Think Urgency, Not Panic

Note: During the current “stay-at-home” mandates and other restrictions in place across the country, I am diving back into 11 years of posts, articles, and reviews across my different websites to bring back timely information for today.


Due to family genetics plus a serious passion for chocolate, I have to be concerned about my cholesterol. One of the first things I learned was that there was “good” and “bad” cholesterol, and that to be healthier, I needed to increase the good and decrease the bad.

According to noted leadership guru John Kotter, there are also two kinds of urgency – and like cholesterol, one is good and one is bad. The good kind is characterized by constant scrutiny of external promise and peril. It involves relentless focus on doing only those things that drive your organization forward, and doing them right now, if not sooner. The bad kind, which has been on everyone’s mind for months now, is panic-driven and characterized by frantic activity which generates a lot of heat and motion but no substance.

Interviewed in an Inc. magazine article, and recalling sections of his book A Sense of Urgency, Kotter thinks that most of what we see now is a lot of people running around trying to come up with solutions. Calling that “ineffectual at best,” he feels this type of activity is driven by a fear of losing. Want to change that? Develop a gut-level determination to win and to make absolutely sure that you and your leaders do something every single day to keep pushing your goal forward. That, Kotter says, is true urgency.

What about ChurchWorld? What do you see when you look around? Frenetic activity? Totally exhausted leaders, working long hours trying to keep ministry efforts going? Difficulty in scheduling meetings to work things out? Check this thought out: true urgency will cause people to leave plenty of white space on their calendars, because they recognize the important stuff – the stuff they need to deal with immediately – is going to happen, most times unplanned.

That’s exponentially true in the ministry world. Interruptions and people in crisis are our ministry, and only if you have margin in your life can you deal effectively and with Christ-like love.

Don’t panic – but lead with urgency.

True urgent leadership doesn’t drain people, but energizes them. It makes them feel excited to be a part of an organization that is moving forward with purpose, even audacity, in times like these. Now that’s a group I want to be a part of!

inspired by, and adapted from, A Sense of Urgency, by John Kotter

A Sense of Urgency


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