Last week I had the privilege of sending out a dear friend to the beginning of what I believe will be a long career in ministry. I decided to jot down some leadership “commandments” for him, and I thought I’d share them (with commentary) here. Here are the first five:
- Don’t forget to care for yourself artistically and spiritually. It’s simple, but we lose sight of it all the time. You have to have something in your tank in order to give something out. My wife and I bought our first really good kitchen knife just last year. When we first got it, it would slice your skin effortlessly. By now, however, it’s beginning to get dull. If we refuse to sharpen it, eventually it be as useless as the $19.99 set of 9 steak knives that I bought for Christmas one year (but that’s another story).
- Closely watch cross-gender relationships. Again, it should go without saying, but … um … it doesn’t. When you step into a position of leadership, it becomes very, very easy to confuse relationships with all kinds of people, particularly with those of the opposite sex. Lines are too easily blurred, too easily crossed, and then every single thing that you have you have invested in in your ministry will be incinerated, and you will be left with wreckage and ash.
- Know your job description, but know what you are paid to do (they don’t always match). Knowing your job description gives you a target, and makes sure that you are giving the church what they need. Knowing what you are actually paid to do, however, can focus your efforts even more, and relatedly allow you to say “no” more freely. When I started in my first ministry job, I was overwhelmed. I asked my supervisor, “How am I supposed to do this overwhelming task?”He replied, “I just want you to do two things: ensure excellence on Saturday (when we gathered) and shepherd the music team. That’s it.”That was what I was paid to do.
- Don’t be afraid to “just” be faithful. There will be times when you simply don’t want to lead people. There will be times when the feelings and emotions of praise and worship won’t be there. At those times, you must commit to just opening your mouth. Don’t confuse the feeling of worship with obedience. Sometimes it’s just enough to show up and lead the best that you can, out of whatever reservoir is available to you. Doesn’t mean you want to stay in that place, but neither can you just walk off the stage and leave it up to someone else.
- Character trumps ability. It will always be tempting to look for a “short-term” win and add an amazingly gifted—but fatally flawed—person to your team. Do this at great risk. They have the capacity to sabotage your efforts, and also to hold the rest of your team emotionally “hostage”. Choose long-term, holistic growth over the short-term sexiness of the glittering image. I’m not saying character can’t change; I’m merely saying that you should keep guard the safety of your team fiercely.