I’ve reached the five year mark in full time vocational ministry, and I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve learned so far. Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and God plans to use me in this way for the rest of my life. If I were talking to someone who was just starting out, and they were asking my advise about ministry, these are the three things that I’d tell them…
1. Know Yourself.
I’ve met so many people in ministry who think they are good at something, and they aren’t. Most often this happens in a lead pastor or senior pastor role. For some reason, this is seen as the pinnacle of ministry, and many people aspire to the position. However, I’ve come to see that God has gifted very few people to work effectively in this role. This may be one of the big reasons so many church plants fail. There are many people in lead roles that would do so much better in an associate role. For me, I know that God has not gifted me to be a lead pastor, but I am gifted to work in a support role for men that God has gifted this way. It is very freeing to embrace how God has made you.
2. Do as little work yourself as possible.
It is our default to do everything ourselves. We think we can do it the best and so we kill ourselves to work on every detail of every project. I am beginning to understand that this is not good leadership. Training, empowering and overseeing other people to do the work of ministry is much better. It does two main things. First, it helps new leaders get experience. Apprenticing the leaders of tomorrow is a responsibility we need to take more seriously. The other thing it does is free us up to do the things that we really need to be doing. In my job, one of the best uses of my time is spent pouring into the lives of our group leaders. When I am taking care of the minutia of Group Life, all my time is sucked up into other things. I try to make it a practice now to constantly ask the question, “Who can I get to do this for me?”
3. Keep it simple.
This is an overall ministry practice that we are learning and becoming more convinced of every day. The biggest reason churches become ineffective is that they become too complex. When we try to do a lot of things, the quality of what we do goes down. Instead of asking “What can we add to make our ministry more effective?”, we need to be asking, “How can we make what we are doing right now more effective?” This is true for our churches as a whole and our individual ministries. It’s a question I’m beginning to ask about Group Life. Even three years in, new ideas are on the horizon. I must continue to stay committed to the simplicity of our model. It helps us stay focused and sharp.
I can’t wait to see what God teaches me in the next five years!