Five Practices of High-Performance Christian Leaders,

Five Practices of High-Performance Christian Leaders | Practice 5: Execution

By Dr. Ben Lovvorn

It’s good to have you back! We’re going to tackle our fifth and final practice of the high-performance Christian leader, which is execution. This practice is really meant to help you focus on the “high-performance” part of leadership. Good leaders get stuff done. They churn out the work. That means working smart and working hard to accomplish as much as possible, to get the very most out of yourself and make the greatest impact for the Lord.

1. Prioritize the right work.

First, you need to prioritize the right work. As a leader, if you’re trying to do anything big or important, there is always going to be far more work than you will ever be able to do. It’s a constant temptation to get distracted and have all your time drained away by doing small, low-priority tasks that are not important and not impactful. You need to decide what’s most important, and focus relentlessly on that.

That’s what Paul did in his ministry. He talks about when he first came to Corinth, how he approached it: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul knew what the core of his mission was, what the core of his ministry and of his life was. It was Jesus Christ crucified for our sins. That was it. So he decided that if something wasn’t about Christ, he didn’t prioritize it. But if it was going to further the cause of Christ, he was all in. Later in 1 Corinthians, in chapter 9, Paul describes all the different ways he seeks to reach people with the truth. He concludes by saying, “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:23).

Paul had absolute clarity about his priorities. As Christian leaders, that means we need to prioritize God’s Kingdom and seek that first, and then everything else can find its place under that umbrella.

2. Know what to delegate and what to do.

Another aspect of execution is knowing what to delegate and what to do. This follows from being clear about your priorities. Know what your highest priority is and what only you can do. Delegate the parts of it that you can empower someone else to do. This frees you up to focus on your top priorities and the aspects of your leadership role that can’t be delegated to someone else.

This is a principle we see play itself out in the Bible. In Exodus 18, we have a very interesting episode where Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, watches how Moses spends his time as a leader. He noticed that Moses was trying to personally judge all the cases for the people of Israel by himself. This is what Jethro told Moses:

“What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (Exodus 18:17–18).

What great advice! Jethro helped Moses set up a system of delegation, where the simpler and easier cases could be judged by others and the hard cases could make their way up to Moses. By delegating to others, Moses freed himself up to tackle the most important and most difficult cases himself. This kept him from wearing himself out, from a death by a thousand cuts. He was able to rely on others. We need to rely on others as well, relying on our team to help us do the work.

3. Manage your time and focus.

To perform at our highest, leaders need to carefully manage their time and their focus. There are so many distractions, so many devices and notifications that can suck away our focus and attention. It’s so easy to become glued to your phone and feel like you’re being productive, when you’re actually just You may have to become maniacal about maintaining your focus and shutting out every distraction to be able to do the deepest, most important work. Leaders need to be able to think deeply and carefully through the most complex problems. If you don’t guard your time and your focus, your work will be shallow and your vision will become fuzzy. Block your time. Put away your devices. Bring your full self to the task in front of you.

Another good biblical example of the aspects of “execution” that we’ve been discussing is Acts 6, when the church first instituted the office of deacon. Listen to the reasoning for why the apostles knew this position was needed:

“And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2–4)

The apostles weren’t demeaning serving tables. They wanted it to happen; it was an essential task of the church to provide meals for widows. But that did not mean that the apostles themselves needed to be the ones to do it. God had specifically called them to preach the Word of God and pray. So they delegated this important task to men who would be well suited to do it well. They didn’t let themselves become distracted. They prioritized what only they could do.

4. Lead from the front.

The next aspect of execution is you must lead from the front. That means setting the pace, setting the example, modeling what you hope others will emulate. If you expect people to get a lot done, you need to get a lot done. If you expect people to manage their time and focus, you’ve got to manage your time and focus.

We’ve been talking about the apostle Paul quite a bit in this series, because he’s such a great example. Here’s a great passage about how he led from the front. At the end of his life he told Timothy: “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me” (2 Timothy 3:10–11). Just think about that list. What he taught, how he acted, what he aimed for in life, how he believed, how he treated people, his consistency, his willingness to endure persecution and suffering. Paul practiced what he preached. Every single thing he encouraged Timothy to do was something that Timothy had seen Paul himself do. That is integrity. That is leading from the front!

5. Deliver excellent results and win!

The final aspect of execution is delivering excellent results. It’s not just about getting a lot done. Everything needs to be done with excellence. Our aim is to accomplish much, and to do all it with excellence that honors the Lord. 2 Peter 1:3 says this, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” God has called us to his own glory and excellence. That involves how we live every single aspect of our lives. Everything we do and every aspect of who we are should imitate and resemble God’s own excellence. That includes who we are at work and what we do at work.

This has been our fifth practice of high-performance leadership, execution. I hope this series has been an encouragement to you, and that you’ve already got some ideas stirring about how you can become a better follower of Jesus Christ as well as a better leader wherever God has you. I’ve got one more brief word to share with you in the final installment of our series, on the reward for being a high-performance Christian leader.