Eight Things I’d Do Differently
With more than 16 years in ministry, there are definitely some things that I’d like to go back and do differently. Here’s my TOP EIGHT:
Add value to the entire church body.
Sometimes our vision is too small and in my early years of ministry, I rarely considered how my ministry area fit as part of the church as a whole – I just couldn’t see the bigger picture. I viewed myself as an unselfish team member, but my actions expressed that I only cared about the ministry areas I oversaw. It was easy to live in a self-created ministry silo and if I had the opportunity to go back and do it again, I would interact with the staff and key leaders with a more open mind.
A church I worked at would take leadership retreats to evaluate the effectiveness of our ministry areas. I HATED IT. I was insecure and felt attacked even though everyone in the room loved me. These were times of coaching, not criticism and I embrace these opportunities today.
At one church where I served, we were required to wear khakis on Sundays. Our church reached a lot of unchurched people – people that weren’t the “khakis crew.” One day on the way to lunch with our senior pastor we talked about church. I mentioned how I felt our khaki requirement didn’t quite match the people we were reaching. Because it was a casual conversation there was no pressure of making an official decision, my pastor listened and responded with, “You are right.” Influence isn’t all about what happens in a meeting. Influence is not about title. It happens through relationships.
It is not someone’s else’s job to make me happy – that’s called entitlement. As long as entitlement exists bad attitudes will persist. We are responsible for our own happiness.
Leaders vs. Managers
When I started in ministry, I didn’t understand leadership. I was a leader by title, but I didn’t act like it. I was a manager and I could do that well. A leader works through influence and I was clueless. I would wait for a task to come my way and to be told what to do. My time would have been better spent through my time investment in others. Managers need a map to accomplish their tasks – leaders create the map.
The organization will outgrow my leadership skills.
I once heard someone say, “When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you’re rotten.” If you are not intentionally learning, you are not growing as a leader and the time will come when the organization needs someone with a greater skillset to lead their ministry. Early in my ministry, I grew a lot while on staff – but it was a result of being a part of a growing church. Because of my lack of intentional growth I unintentionally slowed down the growth of the church. Keep growing.
If I could go back in time I’d show more grace to my pastor. When he had a bad day, I’d show more grace. When he didn’t make a decision I liked, I would have I would shown more grace. When my ideas were rejected, I would have shown grace. I rarely thought through how the pastor had to deal with the entire pressure of the church. I had to deal with the minimal pressure of my area. I didn’t lose sleep at night about attendance, money or staffing. The weight of pastoral leadership is heavy – show grace.
Lead with “Yes.”
So often I would lead with “We can’t do that,” “That won’t work,” “That’s a bad idea.” If I could go back in time I would always lead with a yes. I killed ideas before I gave them a chance to succeed.
Being on a church staff is difficult. It’s much more difficult with a childlike mindset that looks at the pastor as the mean parent who is limiting fun. Bottom line is that in working on a church staff my calling was to fulfill the vision of the pastor and church. I often got that mixed up. They weren’t there to fulfill my vision. And that’s okay.