One of my favorite leadership principles comes from Tim Elmore and his Habitudes study.  He begins with the simple questions: “Are you a thermostat or a thermometer?”

You understand the difference, right?

  • Thermostat – sets the temperature
  • Thermometer – reflects the temperature

And you are either one or the other.

The Thermostat

Do you set the temperature for the people you are around?  Are you that positive person who can find the good in the midst of trouble?  Can you influence people to see the good in things?  Are you willing to stand up for what is right even when it is unpopular?  If so, you are a thermostat.

The Thermometer

Or are you a thermometer who simply reflects the temperature of the environment?  You can spot this if you find yourself becoming negative when you are around negative people.  You begin to say the same critical things that people around you say.  You no longer think for yourself but just become part of the status quo.  If you are unwilling to stand up for what is right in the face of opposition, you are probably more of a thermometer.

Choose Well

Don’t just reflect the temperature, set the temperature!

I have walked beside so many thermometers in my life who simply reflect the temperature of those around them.  They accept status quo and get pulled down into a disparaging disposition.

The world has plenty of those.  We need more people who are willing to change the temperature instead of merely reporting how bad it is.

Reflection time – would the people around you say that you are more of a thermostat or a thermometer?

“Let us not lose heart in doing good for in due time, we will reap, if we do not grow weary.”  -Gal. 6:9

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.