Before I surrendered to the ministry in 2018, I worked with an incredibly talented team of data analysts, computer programmers, electricians and HVAC/R technicians. Among our team, those who needed to touch equipment were scattered in their various districts and regions across the entire United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Facilitating a culture that identified us as a “team” was a feat in and of itself. We not only had to wrestle with the large geographic detachment but also the broadly diverse skills each sub-team brought to the table as an organization.
As I lobbed the difficulty out into the corporate ether before a meeting began, one of our administrative assistants developed a simple and elegant potential solution.
We’ve heard it said that we shouldn’t discuss problems or opportunities we see if we don’t have a solution. That isn’t helpful and just causes people to ignore the problems we oughtto be addressing together. Christians are instructed to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way (they) fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 NIV). True wisdom is found in not sharing your burdens with those who would use them to further discourage or mislead you. The key is to have an attitude that seeks a solution.
I brought up a problem with no solution in mind to a trusted group of creative problem-solvers. As a result, a newsletter with important technical updates and team member biographies became the responsibility of our leadership team. The greatest benefit, perhaps, was to me personally. One of the questions our field technicians were asked when they were highlighted was “What makes you get up in the morning?” Week after week, nearly every single technician interviewed responded to this question the same way. There were literally hundreds of different variations of “I get up to provide for my kids” or “to give my family a better life.”
As a leader, I was reminded of the life our team members had outside of work. They were talented, cared about doing a good job when they showed up and understood our organization’s goals and purpose, but they didn’t live for those goals or that purpose. They had a purpose completely unto themselves. Understanding this in a personal way helped me to care for my team in a way I never considered before — it caused me to grow as a leader.
Why do you continue to serve in your church? (If you are one of the first five to answer this question by emailing or sending me a letter, I will send you a Sonic gift card so you can enjoy a treat on me.) Whether we are serving vocationally as pastors or staff members, or voluntarily as ministry-team members, our service to the church is exasperatingly different than our roles in the rest of the world. We don’t need pastors serving in churches who are working for a living to “provide for the families.” We need pastors serving who are called to the ministry of the gospel. Likewise, we don’t need volunteers who are finding a place for them to fit in. We need volunteers who are passionate about how their service connects and has an impact for the Kingdom of God.
The trouble with experience is that our calling can too easily become our burden. We all benefit from the reminder that our service is not a vainglorious exercise, nor is it a means to an end. It is directly connected to being the salt and light of the earth as Jesus instructed.
We just wrapped up pastor appreciation month. Pastors are some of the most discouraged and depressed vocations I’ve ever seen. Visiting with pastors who are working week after week by faith that God’s Word alone will produce maturity in them and their congregation, there is another problem that comes to mind. We don’t have any “performance metrics” to tell us we are doing a good job because much of the work we do is, after all, “by faith.” Add on top of that the simple observable fact that people are more likely to express a concern than a compliment, especially to public leaders, and you’ve got a recipe for self-doubt and loneliness.
I received a text a few weeks ago that has continued to encourage me every morning I wake up. Do you want to see a change in your pastor? Do you want to see the optimism of hope for Christ’s imminent return in his heart?
• Be honestwith him. I’m pretty sure he preaches more good sermons than bad ones. Don’t grow weary of telling him every time God uses him to bless you. And don’t compliment something that wasn’t worth complimenting. Simply, be honest.
• Be specific with him. It isn’t enough to say “good sermon” or “I needed that, today” to your pastor. He’s a self-worrier, so he needs you to tell him specifically what blessed you. As an additional bonus, your specificity will help him to develop into a better pastor, too! Tell him the application you took away and how you’re going to implement it in your life if you’re comfortable. Tell him which illustration made his point most clear for you. Be a blessing to your pastor and he is sure to be a greater blessing to you.