As we begin this series of weekly reflections for this shared journey of ministry we’re on, one of the aspects of ministry and leadership that comes quickly to mind is the importance of the people we share that ministry with.
It’s about connections
Leadership isn’t about what we can accomplish alone, it’s about who we are connected with, and how our ministry gets accomplished together. While being a leader means that we take responsibility and accountability for making sure the part of ministry entrusted to us is done, and done well, leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it doesn’t mean we have to do it all ourselves.
When Jesus sent out the disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick, (Matthew 10:5-15, Luke 9:1-6, 10:1-12, Mark 6:6-13), he sent them out in pairs. When Paul went on his missionary work, we read in Acts 13:1 that the Holy Spirit directed the church to set apart Paul and Barnabas for the mission of proclaiming Christ and planting churches throughout Asia Minor. Later on Paul and Silas continued the mission in what we know today as Greece. Along the way, they were joined by people like John Mark, Luke, Timothy and others.
Leadership isn’t about getting people to follow us; it’s about bringing people together in a shared purpose where together we accomplish the mission God has for us.
What does your network of ministry look like?
Who are the people you look to for advice? Who are your supports along the way? Who is part of your team in accomplishing the work?
Speaking personally, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today, personally or professionally, without being part of multiple networks of colleagues, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. My ministry network includes the leaders and members of Memorial Baptist Church, other clergy leaders across the community and the American Baptist denomination. There are people I rely on to bounce ideas off of, to talk through the best way to approach situations, to work collaboratively on a shared ministry objective, and who I rely on for perspectives outside my own.
How are we investing in the people around us? What are you doing to bring out the best in them, creating space for them to use their gifts?
It’s often true that the easiest and quickest way to get something done is to do it ourselves. But part of leading isn’t about efficiency as much as it is building and equipping the people around us to grow in their gifts. Sometimes that means we need to take time to teach and mentor others. Sometimes it means being humble enough to let someone try things their way, even if it wouldn’t be the way we’d choose. Jesus models this in how he spent time with the disciples and entrusted them with God’s mission – notably before they were even fully aware of who he was! The mission was also the training ground for discipleship.
How are we learning from the people we partner with and on our team?
An old joke goes that a sergeant on the run outranks a lieutenant who has no idea what is going on. As we partner in ministry, we recognize that not only are we called and gifted for ministry, but others are as well – and we can learn from them.
Part of working together as a team means taking time to come together and evaluate how things went.
What worked? What didn’t? What questions got raised by being on the mission together – unexpected challenges, God-sightings, insights and frustrations. Processing these things together is an essential part of growing personally as well as being more effective in ministry. Again drawing from the story where Jesus sends out the disciples, we remember that Jesus also took time to ‘debrief’ them when they returned. Their experience in ministry became the springboard for deeper personal growth and the next step in their work together.
Blessings on the Journey – Pastor Brian
(Photo of the Mosaic at the Church of Holy Perfection in Nicosia, Cyprus by Молли – used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)