So you’re in a life boat with ten other people, your life depends on getting the boat where it need to go. There’s a problem though, no one is taking the lead; no one is directing the order or pattern of the paddling; no one is pushing in the same direction. What happens? Nothing. Nothing happens. You don’t get anywhere and if you do, it’s tremendously slow.
I was asked to write a blog by Jon on what it means to play a supporting role in a ministry setting. And this particular problem has recently been brought to my focus and I see the detriment that it can cause in a church. This problem is all too familiar in most churches today; everyone in leadership and in the church in general is not paddling in the same direction. This causes ministries to not really get anything done; on the surface it may appear things are being done, but a closer look shows otherwise. What is the best way to measure this? I believe Jesus with His great commission would agree it can be summed up in two words- Evangelism and Discipleship.
Why is that not happening in most churches?
The problem to me seems fairly simple now, however not too long ago I was blind to it. The answer is unity of mind; the answer is having the same goals; the answer is knowing your role; the answer is doing what you’re told by your leaders, shutting up and doing it with a smile.
Let’s flesh this out a little. Your Ministry leader or Pastor is the guy with the reigns. It’s his face people see when your ministry pops in their heads, that can be good or bad depending on how you’re doing. Obviously outside of Jesus, he is the guy at the top of the list. Whither he likes to admit it or not, he is the leader. A good leader will not shy away from this fact but take it up with humble confidence that with Jesus he can do it well.
The Leader is leading, what’s your response?
Now if the leader in place realizes this great weight on his shoulders and rises to the occasion, the rest of the members of this team should respond in a right way. What is that? By simply letting him lead, by doing what he says, and yes, shutting up. This does not mean being a blind follower. By no means. Ask questions, dialogue, bring up your ideas and suggestions, even say things that he could do better. But at the end of the day, HE IS the man in charge, NOT you. Do what he says. When you have ideas or suggestions bring them to him one on one or in your leadership meetings. But when you’re in the rest of the church’s eye, smile and support him no matter how you feel.
A good leader must have good followers.
When you think of individuals with leadership skills in the Bible, who always makes the list? Nehemiah. He was not a priest, pastor, prophet or king. He was a waiter, yes King Artaxerxes’ waiter, but still a waiter. Not the sweetest resume. However, he exhibited outstanding executive and administrative skills in rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem and sparking a revival of the people of Israel. You want to know how it was done? It’s complicated…. listen carefully… people followed him. They let him led and they did what he said when he said it. They understood their roles, got their orders, put their shoulder to the weight and pushed. Plain and simple. Nehemiah had many problems to deal with so the more people he had who did what he said, the easier and more successful the project of rebuilding the wall and the people became.
In chapter eight of Nehemiah’s book, Ezra got up and preached the word of God to the people (on a wooden platform that Nehemiah probably had built for just such occasions I might add) and revival happened. Nehemiah was not a Bible scholar but he knew Ezra was and set the stage for him to proclaim the Word of God to Israel. Did Nehemiah seek the glory or fame for this? No, he did it for God not himself but I’m pretty sure he had a huge smile on his face at the sight of lives being changed while watching from the back row. How did this all happen? People… followed… him.
Grab Your paddle!
Let your leader lead. Do what he says. Grab your paddle and paddle the direction and rhythm the leader says to. It’s the only way to get anywhere in good time. You might have to grab more than one paddle, you might have to teach others how to use their paddle. Just grab it, trust your leader, and push.
Most #2 guys forget that the lead guy used to be the #2 guy and most #1 guys forget what it was like to be the #2 guy. Both are essential. For your ministry to properly be effective and have longevity, it takes an understanding, cooperation, teamwork & leadership.
I have been in several ministries, so I have seen a few models. I was in one ministry where from the top-down it preached to be a servant but the leaders very rarely did any serving but were always served. I have also been in a few ministries where the leaders and #2’s didn’t work well together and it showed. There needs to be a balance and that is difficult, but it can be achieved. I am not perfect and have lots to work on, but in my short life I have seen some dictators, some administrators, some glorified janitors, big wigs and know-it-alls as leaders and pastors (and also as the #2’s).
This happens when we forget that this is a ministry and not a business. In the business world we do because we get paid, in ministry we do because we were called. Don’t forget your calling. If God called you to be in ministry than thats what you do, and why you do it is because God told you to. If we kept this at the heart of leaders and followers in the ranks, then most divisiveness could be avoided.
To the #1’s, lead but be nice and take some time to remember what its like to always be told what to do once in a while. Love Jesus and imitate how Jesus led.
To the #2’s, follow but remember that the lead guy is carrying a weight that you don’t have to and unless you ever become the #1 you won’t understand. Don’t be like the disciples, rather be like the apostles.