February 13, 2009 Tony Morgan

Outcomes or Execution?

Had an interesting conversation yesterday. I was talking with a friend about a familiar passage of the Bible. It’s called the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus told this story. He told lots of stories. Read it.

I’ve probably read that passage a hundred times, but this new learning jumped out yesterday. Consider the “master” in the story. His reaction to all three servants is very interesting. When the servant with five talents doubled his money, the master said, “well done.” When the servant with two talents doubled his money, the master said “well done.” The master didn’t hold the servant accountable for how the money was invested. The master held the servants accountable for the results.

But the master’s response was different for the servant with one talent. That servant just buried the money. In this instance, not only did the master acknowledge the poor outcome, the master also recommended an alternative plan. “You should have put my money on deposit with the bankers.” It was only after identifying a poor outcome that the master was concerned with the execution.

I used to see this as a parable about how I invest my time, gifts and money. Now I’m also going to see this as a parable about how I invest my leadership.

The leader was more concerned about the outcome than the execution. When I know the “right way” to do something, it’s hard to release the execution to someone else. Frankly, it’s a lot easier as a leader to tell people what to do and how to do it than to release them to make it happen on their own. That’s messy. In the end, though, if I’ve identified the appropriate win, it’s the results that count.

It’s more about the outcomes than it is the execution.

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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