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Patience and the 4-Year Rule

Posted on February 9th, 2016

When we take on a new role or position, it is helpful to remember Tertullian’s (155–222 AD) wise counsel: “It is God’s nature to be patient. One of the signs the Holy Spirit has descended is that patience and waiting is always by its side.”

A few years ago Bobb Biehl, one of my mentors, shared an application of this principle that has served me well. It is the 4-year rule: When you take on a new position or role, it will take you 4 years to learn it.  (This applies even if you have been in the organization for 20 years yet are moving to a new role).

Year 1: Orientation – It takes one year to adjust to your new role. By the end of the 1st year, you are beginning to understand where things are, how to relate to co-workers, the strengths and weaknesses of the ministry, etc.

Year 2: Experimentation – By the 2nd year you are trying new things.  You believe they will work, but you will not know until they are actually tested over time.

Year 3: Evaluation – In the 3rd year, you are able to discern more clearly what is working and what is not. You realize every new initiative you attempted in year 2 will not succeed as hoped.

Year 4: Acceleration – In the 4th year, you begin to accelerate.  The kind of progress you were expecting in year 1 is now actually beginning to take place.

At this point you will have truly laid the foundation to take your church, organization, or ministry forward. Since we take on new roles and positions often, why not join God and patiently relax. I suspect the people around you will be grateful.

PS – Keep sending me your comments and questions on Twitter @petescazzero.

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