This is an encouragement to those who are limping in leadership. I entered ministry after a long career in the business world. I had significant life and leadership experience, but honestly, some of it was learned through tremendously painful experiences. Not only did I not have the pedigree of most pastors, it was actually following a sizable business losswhere we were forced to sell our business and basically start over financiallywhen God called me into ministry.
I entered ministry limping.
The truth is, the best leaders I know have a limp of some nature. It may not be visible, but if you are around them long, they will display remnants of a previous injury.
They may have had a failure which crippled them for a season. They may have messed up. They may have made a mistake. They may have lost their way. They may have been injured by others. And, as a result, they may have even been tempted to quit, but they pushed forward, never to be the same again.
If this is your story if you have a limp and youre in leadership I have a few suggestions. Here are 5 ways to lead well when you have a limp:
1. Don’t hide your limp
There is most likely a younger leader around you who feels they’ve lost their way or will some day. They need your guidance. They need your encouragement. They need to see by example they can get up again and move forward.
You don’t have to wear a sign around your neck or tell everyone you meet about your limp, but you shouldn’t pretend it isn’t true, either. Your story is your story.
2. It may be God’s way of keeping you humble
Rahab of the Bible never lost her title as a harlot, even in the faith chapter (Hebrews 11). It reminds me the past is my past. I can’t change it or hide it, at least for long. A great leader never forgets where they came from.
3. Don’t be a martyr
No one enjoys a complainer or someone who is always making excuses. You suffered a failure. You had a setback. You made a critical error. You sinned. Others sinned against you. Don’t wallow in your misery forever.
It’s not an attractive characteristic in leadership. One of my favorite verses for those of us who limp is Ecclesiastes 11:3. Look it up. Recognize it’s true and deal with it. It’s what you do after you fall, which matters most.
4. Allow it to strengthen you
You have two choices with a limp. You can allow your limp to make you a better person and leader. Or, you can let it keep you from ever being whole againand never realize your full potential. Grace is available if you will receive it.
There may be forgiveness you need to seek or extend. You may need to do other right things. But, let your limp strengthen your leadership abilities, even if its simply learning what not to do next time. Most of us learn more in the hard times than the easy times. Most likely, you will also.
5. Be empathetic
There is nothing worse than one with a limp refusing to recognize others who limp. Always remember others have struggles too. If not now, they will. They’re finding their way, just as you did. Extend grace as grace has been given to you.
Keep limping across the finish line. Don’t give up. Great leaders proudly limp to victory. They cheer on others who limp. They steadfastly keep going towards the goal. And, in the process, they encourage a lot of people and accomplish great things.
Ron Edmondson is a husband, dad, pastor, church planter and church growth/organizational leadership consultant in Lexington, KY. Check out Rons blog for great leadership advice.
Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.
My ninth year as Director of Premarital Ministry was my best year ever. Our ministry grew like crazy. We were having a impact in both our church and in the community.
Then came my tenth year in ministry.
Our leadership team gave me the opportunity to increase my leadership capacity. The downside would be leaving the job I loved in the marriage ministry. After much prayer and consideration, I accepted the offer.
Seven months after taking on the new role, I moved back to marriage ministry. Outside looking in, it might have appeared as though I failed. But these job transitions have been among the best things that have ever happened to me. In the process, I learned a few things about myself:
1. I’m a better soldier than a general
In other words, I am better at executing a plan than directing and crafting the plan. Give me a direction and Ill execute the heck out of it, but Im more wired for others to direct the course. In my moments of insecurity, I somehow believe the general is more valuable in God’s eyes than the soldier.
While the world and the church may more highly esteem the general, God values each one. He loves us all the same and doesn’t value one ministry role more than the other. Looking for evidence? See the cross. Romans 5:8 says: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. There is no distinction: equal need for a Savior, equal recipients of His love.
2. I learned how I’m wired
I like going deep in one area of ministry (marriage) rather than going wide and less deep. Rather than leading a large slice of the pie, I do better with one narrow (yet highly significant) sliver of the pie.
I’d rather lead one area up close than many areas from a distance. No one grows up wanting to be a marriage pastor, but I am so thankful this is the area I get to serve and use my gifts.
3. I gained a better respect for those different than me
I learned to respect the skill set required for senior pastors, campus pastors, or ministry directors who lead multiple, large teams. I relearned that God gives different gifts to different people for different purposes, but all for His glory and for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
I was reminded that God chooses for some to be an ear, some to be a foot, and some to be the colon! All are necessary for the body to function in the way He desires and designs.
4. I learned this all could change in the future
I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point down the road, I move to another role, either as a campus pastor or maybe even another job at another church. I sure hope not, but it wouldnt surprise me. And, I hope Im not the same person in five years that I am right now. I pray God will continue to grow and sanctify me in whatever way He wishes.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Shifting gears to you: How are you wired? What are your gifts? Are you in your sweet spot in leadership? Ask yourself some honest questions:
- Do you think some gifts are more valuable than others?
- Do you covet a role higher in the org chart? If so, is it for the right reasons (because it fits your gifts and skills) or for the wrong reasons (more money, more power, more worldly esteem)?
- Are you being faithful where you are right now or are you waiting for the next opportunity to come your way?
Ask others you work with if they think youre in the right spot. Ask your boss for his or her thoughts on your ministry sweet spot. Ask how you can grow, and when they respond, be teachable, humble and dont be defensive. If you’re married, ask your spouse the same questions you asked your boss. Again, don’t be defensive!
In retrospect, I don’t think I should have changed roles. I don’t like change, and the last year has been a year with a fair amount of transition. But, I have learned much in the process and I have gained a much greater perspective on how the Lord has fearfully and wonderfully made and designed me.
When I first got hired at my church to help married couples, I was a little overwhelmed. There are a lot smarter people than me, a lot more skilled individuals who could be occupying my office right now. The thing is, God brought me here. That means I’m responsible to do the best I can with the resources I have.
Here are the things I’ve learned that have helped me grow in my role:
1. Help Parents Become Their Kids’ Heroes
Whether it’s sending Parent Cues by email or having a hardcopy of GodTime Cards to hand out to parents as they leave on Sunday morning, I’ve bought into the idea that kids are going to spend the rest of their lives with their parents. Parents mostly want to do a good job with their kids.
They don’t need to hear “just trust God more,” they need to hear: “If you’ll take 5-10 minutes to talk through these questions with your kids, it’ll help you really connect with them.” If I’m not specific, I’m wasting my time.
2. Help Husbands & Wives Learn Communication Skills
It seems like everybody texts but nobody talks anymore. I need to give husbands and wives specific instructions on how to carry on conversations.
If physical proximity and emotional openness are the keys to intimacy, I may need to physically show them how to face each other, make good eye contact, hold hands, express themselves and ask for what they want with the right tone of voice.
3. Connect with Others Working with Married Couples
I’m not always going to have the best answers, so why not reach out to other churches, counselors, and non-profits who are focusing on the area of marriage? Read an article or book. Call somebody. Who knows? I might be able to help them!
What are you learning so far? What’s helping you build stronger marriages?
Kenn Mann is the Minister to Young Marrieds at First Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Over the past twelve years, I’ve served on staff at three different churches. More times than I can count, I have said the words, “If I only had more ____________, I would be able to make a greater impact in my area of ministry.”
My fill in the blank has been:
- more time
- more money
- more help
- more staff
- more support
- more publicity
- more experience
- more people showing up
- more room at the church
Every time I made that statement I really believed that was the answer to my struggles.
More Is an Excuse
It certainly couldn’t be my lack of knowledge, leadership or direction. It had to be something outside of my control (insert sarcastic eye roll). Are you with me so far? Have you found yourself in a similar position? Have you been telling yourself that same thing this week?
What I’ve learned is that my complaints were more revealing of my capacity issues as a leader than they were resource issues.
As my pastor said in a recent sermon, “if you’re complaining about your current position it usually means you’ve reached your capacity and need to grow in some area.” Now that we all feel bad about our leadership, let’s look at some solutions.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
The first two churches I served with averaged less than 500 attendees on the weekend. My current position is with a church that averages 7,500.
While at the smaller churches, I used to tell myself, “I could really do some serious ministry if I had the resources, space and staff help that those guys at the big churches have.” Let me report my findings now that I’m at a bigger church.
On paper, I currently lead our couples ministry and counseling ministry. I share a small portion of the weekend teaching responsibilities. I help oversee our staff accountability and development. Yet, I have zero paid staff assistance in any area of ministry. That means all the ministry that occurs in the areas I lead is accomplished through volunteers.
I’ve realized an important truth in my current role—God will give you all the resources you need to accomplish what He has given you to do. I know that we all agree with that statement intellectually. But do we really believe it at the heart level?
If I’m not dedicated to that belief, not much would get done in the ministries I serve. Right now, there are people in your church who would love to put their gifts and passions to work. They’re ready to help you accomplish the vision God has given you for your ministry area.
Invest In People
Whether you are at a large church of thousands or a church of fifty, you can begin moving towards the grander vision you have for ministry today. The philosophy is simple—grow people and they will turn into teams. Grow teams and they will turn into ministries.
Two years ago, I met a woman at church and invited her and her husband to our small group. After getting to know the two of them, I saw she had a passion for divorced couples. She had experienced divorce herself and had attended a class at a previous church for divorcees.
This began a discussion about beginning a Divorce/Separation Care class at our church. I spent some time dreaming with her about what that might look like and also added a couple other people to the discussion that had an interest. We developed a vision, pulled together an eight-week curriculum and launched a ministry six months later.
Did you see how that worked? By investing into one person, we were able to build a team and from that team came a thriving ministry.
Teams Lead to Ministries
The next time you begin to believe the Myth of More, remind yourself to look around and ask God who He has placed in your life. Then, invite them to spend some time with you and see how you can help them grow personally and spiritually.
Do this with a few individuals and next thing you know, you will have a small team. If you intentionally and consistently meet with that team to grow and shape them, you’ll be off and running with that ministry idea that has been on your heart.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:11-12
Grow people. People become teams. Grow teams. Teams become ministries.
Eric Wooten is the Pastor of Family Ministries & Counseling at One Community Church in Plano, Texas.
A Brief Confession
I have a short list of confessions to make as I write this article on work/life balance.
- I believe balance is overrated and rather boring. A perfectly balanced see-saw doesnt go anywhere. We are incomplete without the ups and downs of circumstances. We learn to lean in, to share strength with others, to trust, to breathe. God reveals Himself fully in the ups and downs. He is our balance.
- I know there are seasons in every life that are all-in moments where extra amounts of grace are extended, extra reserves of energy are discovered, and extra helpings of caffeine are welcomed.
- I am a workaholic who comes from a long line of workaholics. My grandfather neglected time with his family because things just needed tending. My dad found solace in alcohol and prescription drugs to deal with the stress of never enough time to do it all. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder almost two decades ago, in the midst of one of the most successful chapters of my career. For me, every season was an all-in out-of-control rodeo ride on that see-saw.
- I’m writing this while sitting in a recliner in my flannel pajamas. I no longer work in a traditional office setting. Working from home definitely has its benefits. But leaving work at work becomes even more challenging when it lives with you.
Search Google for time management tips and youll see 365 million possibilities. No matter the vocation, finding ways of doing good with our lives while we do good with our hands is something we all long for. I’m still learning, but there are a few things I’ve discovered along the way on keeping work at work.
Time can be such a threatening word in a world that never seems to have enough of it. One of my favorite ways to make the most of the days I’ve been given is to use my calendar for more than scheduling meetings and project deadlines.
I make appointments with myself, blocking time for strategizing and goal-setting, reading and research, and tackling administrative tasks. I even block time to simply enjoy time with othersto catch up with colleagues over coffee or to serve someone in need.
I’ve found that the task list seems to get done when its transformed into bite-sized chunks on a calendar. The focus moves from theres so much to do to this is what Im going to focus on right now.
Focus is often thwarted by things like anxiety and stress. The calendar is one way to help with the focus. But there’s something else I’ve found that helps me rightly focus the day before that calendar chirps its first appointment.
My day begins with worship. Most mornings, I’ll read scripture, journal my thoughts, and spend time in honest, gut-level prayer. I’ll admit, there are some days the prayers are happening in the shower and the scripture is a song on the radio.
Quiet time isn’t a revolutionary thought at all. But its often the first thing thats pushed to the side when the days are full and all those around us feel the impact of that sacrifice.
The word sacrifice jarred me to my core as I sat in the doctors office and heard the words, “You are not OK.”
I thought about my husband and son, about my family and friends. I thought about the staff that trusted me to lead them. About people who trusted me to serve them. And I thought about God, the very One I had said was my Lord and my Guide.
For every what I was willing to sacrifice to do everything well while never having enough time to get it all done, there was a who. My own unwillingness to leave work at work caused everyone around me to carry the load.
My own all-in, out-of-control rodeo ride revealed my disregard for others. I thought about my heritage, and the history I didn’t want to repeat.
So I learned to invite others to ride on that see-saw with me, to help me lean in and share strength and trust and breathe. I have a trusted group of souls who ask the hard questions about my focus and my time.
I ask permission rather than forgiveness of those who are closest to me in the necessary seasons of all-in. And I’m embracing the power of confession from James 5:16: Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.
Ronne Rock finds joy in helping people discover their true story. A former church communications director and corporate marketing executive, she now shares her more than 30 years of leadership prowess with churches and other faith-based organizations, and she travels the world to curate story that changes stories. Ronne narrates life with words and imagery, and finds the redemptive threads that inspire others to action. Connect with her on Facebook and via Twitter or Instagram, and read her stories at http://RonneRock.com.
Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.