Within every ministry or business, there is wiggle room. Before we examine “the how” for learning about and becoming comfortable within your ministry’s culture, there are several things where there can be no wiggle room.
Jesus’ disciples knew that he was not only their leader. He was their example. Before he sent them out in two’s, he traveled with them, showing them the way. At his death, these men had experienced survival because the Lord had sent them out to experience the Holy Spirit’s working through them.
If any ministry is going to succeed, it is vital to learn how to work as a team. Jeffery Lay in his book, Top Gun on Wall Street, says “We don’t send anyone, anywhere. We all go together.” Lay was a top gun pilot who transferred the leadership skills learned from the military into the business world.
Leaders cannot lead from behind. If you are in a leadership position, you must not only be willing to go before but you must be the first to venture into new avenues.
There is a fatal notion that leaders don’t actually do much work. They learn to delegate. The problem with that philosophy is that few people willingly or happily work for a leader if their leader does not fully understand the concerns of the workers. Before delegation can successfully happen, there must be example.
Within a ministry, you must have the good will of all your volunteers and paid staff. That doesn’t mean that you need to know the nuts and bolts of every single activity. However, you must do more than walk though the ministry space, looking, pointing and asking stupid questions. The person who is following you must know your commitment to the people you are serving.
They need to understand that at any time you are willing to pick up a broom and sweep the floor or make the refreshments. Each week volunteers need to see you moving chairs, teaching or doing some physical ministry. Volunteers and staff must know that you are willing learn the bookkeeping or the desk-top publishing or a new data base. You want to be able to venture into the new activities demanded by your ministry.
When The Special Gathering was having some concerns with our bookkeeping, the head of our ministry, Richard Stimson, went back to college to learn the fundamentals of accounting. While he didn’t need to learn how to be an expert in accounts receivable, he wanted to be able to have an overall vision regarding this area of ministry. I was impressed with his willingness to venture beyond his comfort zone to learn how to lead in this vital area.
Years ago, I visited a large ministry in southern Florida. A bit shocked, I listened as the director of the ministry spoke to her fellow volunteers. She was more than stern as the men and women listened. They nodded and smiled, agreeing with her admonitions. After the meeting, I asked her how she could be so stern with her volunteers. ”I’m also a volunteer,” she said, laughing. ”My teachers know that I am doing as much or more than they are every day of the week.”
She and Stimson live what Lay advocates, “Don’t send anyone, anywhere. We all go together.” Without a team no ministry will not be successful. However, without a leader, there will be no team.