Napoleon, Thirds, and Going Forward after COVID
You’ve heard the anecdote that there are three kinds of people in the world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder “What just happened?!?”
That notion may have some history behind it. Napoleon Bonaparte is often credited with the “rule of thirds.” That is, in any group of people, you will have three types:
- Those who are ready to run into battle at a moment’s notice;
- Those who want things to stay just the way they are;
- Those who wait to see who wins, and joins that team.
(See my friend Todd Adkins’ 90 Second Leadership video on this topic…he explains it better and his hair is way better than mine.)
As I’ve been talking to church leaders around the country, I see this rule of thirds playing out again and again. In most congregational surveys, leaders are finding that 25-45% of their people say, “We’ll come back whenever you open the doors.” Another group – usually the same or a similar size – will respond that they will wait a while before returning, potentially until a vaccine is found. And there’s still a remaining group who says that they’re simply not sure what they’ll end up doing. But if Napoleon is right, they’ll side with whoever seems to get their way.
In this particular situation, I’m not telling you which third to cater to. The nuances of this pandemic, the safety protocols around reopening, and the specifics of your church and geographic area are far too varied to tell you which group is “right.”
But you need to know the thirds exist. And you need to plan to shepherd them all.
Those who want to come back immediately aren’t necessarily naive or foolhardy or trailblazers.
Those who want to wait a while aren’t necessarily obstacles or stubborn or displaying a lack of faith.
Those who aren’t sure – or who will change their minds multiple times – aren’t necessarily wishy-washy or indecisive or skittish.
Even on your staff team…shoot, even in your household…you may find those three perspectives represented. Sometimes all in the same day and all from the same person.
Know your thirds. Shepherd your thirds. And lead ’em well.