South Africa Journal 8: Remembering to Close the Loop

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Think about the last time you led a ministry initiative in which you had to call in favours.

Perhaps you’re a youth leader who needed to round up extra drivers for that youth ministry outing, and you phoned all those parents to bring their mini-vans to run these kids across town.

Maybe you’re a senior pastor who needed to clear the church calendar for an important church-wide event, and you met with several key staff to get them to move or cancel their previously scheduled functions.

My question for you, and the one I’ve been challenged with today, is “How consistently do you remember to close the loop?”

South Africa Township

My journey through South Africa continued today with a stop at World Vision’s Umvoti Area Development Project office. Here our group of Canadian pastors met with the Umvoti World Vision staff, along with a group of local pastors.

As part of the meeting’s agenda we showed a video which we had shot in this region in April of 2009, and which we had shown at Canada’s Leadership Summit sites later that year. In filming the piece we had visited many area homes and interviewed many families and community leaders. In showing the video to some 7000 leaders at the Canadian Summit it had raised a great awareness of the needs in this region, along with an opportunity to respond through World Vision.

After showing this seven minute clip to these Umvoti leaders, one of the pastors rose from his chair and spoke words which I immediately processed as an important leadership principle.

“Thank you for showing us this video,” he said in his native Zulu through an interpreter. “Many times people visit us, and many times they take videos of us. Then they show their videos in other countries, but we don’t know what they have said about us. We don’t know what people are being made to think about us through their videos. But you have come back to us. You have shown us the video. This honours us. And we thank you.”

The eruption of applause confirmed that he was speaking on behalf of their entire community.

His comments reminded me that these people were not merely subjects in our video. They had given of themselves to make our project a success, and to show them the finished product was just the right thing to do.

Because when you call in favours, it’s incumbent upon the leader to close the loop. It’s just a part of leadership to go back to those you asked for help, and let them know how things turned out.

Tell the parents who drove the kids what happened as a result of getting all those kids to the event.

Tell the staff how in moving their ministry function to a different night your church-wide event had impacted the entire church.

I had to come half-way around the world to be reminded of this leadership principle. But it’s one I’ll be emphasizing with greater vigour upon my return to Canada.

How consistently do you remember to “close the loop”

the author

Scott Cochrane

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