Know Your Season
One of the most famous passages in the book of Ecclesiastes is found in chapter three. It begins, ‘For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.’ Then Solomon proceeds to list a series of contrasting seasons: ’a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest, etc.’ What’s the lesson here? To live a wise and effective life you need to know what season you are in so that you can match your season with the appropriate strategic step.
Wise leaders are effective, not only at identifying the season and the strategic approach for themselves.
They are good at helping others to appreciate and to leverage the season along with them. Below are five seasonal choices for us to consider.
#1 – STARTING OR SIFTING: a time to be born and a time to die.
Sometimes it is appropriate to start new things. It’s a time for new ideas and new strategies to be born. Energy is given. Passion is released. Change initiated. Then there are other seasons, when there is just too much going on, or too many wounds that people are recovering from, or too much change that has already occurred. That might be a time for some old things, or ineffective things, or draining things to die. We do ‘triage’ and decide what needs to die so that everything else can live. We prune away the things are taking energy away from the priority of the moment.
#2 – SOWING OR REAPING: a time to plant and a time to harvest.
The season of sowing is all about beginnings. It’s about investing in things that will bring long-term results. It’s a season of vision. It’s a season of patience. The time of reaping is a season of urgency. It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality. It’s high energy. It’s high demand. It recognizes that every moment is precious because ripe fruit is hanging on the vine and if it is not picked, it will go away.
#3 – RESTORING OR RELEASING: a time to kill and a time to heal.
This one applies well to staffing…but dont’ take this one too literally. I know, you may sometimes want to kill those who are causing you grief. But there is a time when releasing an underperforming, unethical, or unhealthy staff member is the only right thing to do for them and for the organization that you lead. But we must be careful. Because sometimes, it can be time to restore and believe in someone who has made mistakes. You need to accurately identify the season.
#4 – GRIEVING OR CELEBRATING: A time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to grieve and a time to dance.
Sometimes it is appropriate to weep over an organizational failure. Something happens poorly and it needs to be reviewed, analyzed, and adjustments made so that it never happens again. Other times, it’s appropriate to laugh about an organizational or even a personal leadership failure. When the pressure is on, and a team has been working hard, it’s good not to take yourself too seriously. We have to learn to laugh at our mistakes and come back to a place of total dependence on God.
Many of us leaders know how to cry and grieve, but few of us have learned how to dance! Too often we accomplish something as a team and we ready to forget that success and move onto the next thing. But we need to give our people a chance to dance wildly over the good things that are happening among us. Dancing is healthy for all.
#5 – LOOKING BACK OR LOOKING AHEAD: A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones, a time to embrace and a time to turn away.
The gathering of stones sounds a lot like what happens when the built memorials to what God had done. Joshua gathered stones and had them stacked in the Jordan river after God had led them through on dry ground. There is a time to look back and honor the work of the past and the heroes that brought us to this point. There is also a time when looking back and longing for the past is a hindrance to believing God for new things in the future. Sometimes we need to strategically embrace the past. Other times we need to turn away and embrace the new day ahead.
There are several more contrasts listed in this passage. But the final one ends by saying: A time for war and a time for peace.
This is also an important one to discern. There is a season when we are at war. Intensity is up. Focus is demanded. Commands are barked. Passion is maintained. Victory is what we are after. But you can’t live at war 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. You will burn everyone around you out and will be very unhealthy yourself. At times, you need to live in peace. Don’t fight. Don’t bark. Don’t push. Relax and enjoy the victory that we have in Christ.