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Brace Yourself for Change

For Christmas one year my parents scrimped enough money to give me an electric-powered slot-car racing track.  It was absolutely incredible!  Two cars, one blue and the other red, would race down the strait-away, take ninety-degree turns, round embankments, and speed toward a double loop de loop.  My brother and I spent hours racing each other. There we’d sit, clutching our plastic hand controls, attempting to time the curves just right while retaining enough momentum to beat the other guy’s car.

With all of the excitement my favorite thing was when my dad would come into the living room and attempt to race.  He was terrible!  I mean he was absolutely awful.  He would mash down on the hand-held accelerator so hard that the car would naturally careen off track every time he hit a ninety-degree turn.  We would laugh and laugh at our old dad.

I learned as a child that to stay on track you have to anticipate the coming changes.

In my personal ministry career I have seen so many changes.  This year I will celebrate 15 years of ministry.  I’ve been a Children’s Pastor, a Sunday School Coordinator, and Young Families Minister.  As a Church-Planter I scheduled the services, led the youth activities, picked out the hymns, developed the budget, preached the sermons, cleaned the bathrooms, and scheduled the nursery volunteers.  When the church started to grow my responsibilities began to change.  Now I was leading staff meetings, organizing special events, hosting conferences, while I continued to preach the sermons.  But the days of youth activities, nursery schedules, and balancing budgets were now in my past.  I’ve recently entered yet another phase of ministry, indeed another change.  I’m no longer in every staff meeting or part of special event planning, but at least I still get to preach.

Core Principle #10 for Ministry Teamwork is My Role will Change.

At Southern Hills our team is reminded that…

1. Relationship is Solid – Responsibilities are Fluid

Every member of my team must understand this point!  As long as character, competency, and chemistry are intact – your position here is absolutely secure.  Our relationship is completely solid and won’t change.  HOWEVER, your responsibilities will change.  You may be the Student Ministries Pastor this year but who knows where you might be serving in our ministry 5 years from now.  Each year we will reevaluate our needs as a team, my heart as your leader, and your heart as God may be directing.  One of the most dangerous things anyone can do is to foolishly hold on to something you ought let go.  I actually like planning special events.  I thrived in front of a group of 30-50 grade-school kids.  But I wouldn’t be advancing in my current role if I was stubbornly holding on to responsibilities that must be given to another.  

2. One day you will not be the best at what you do – on this team. 

I used to be one of the best musicians on our team.  That was when our team consisted of Heather and I.  At one point I was the most creative, most fiscally minded, and most organized person on our team.  NO LONGER!  I’m simply not the best.  I’m not even sure I’m still the best communicator on our team.  And if, by some chance, I happen to be – I hope not to be for very long!

I’ve learned that you don’t have to be the best to be the leader.  You just have to be the leader.

You see, I am not looking to lead a group of followers.  I desire to lead a group of leaders. I want men and women who can identify the gifts and talents of others and compel them to join our team without an unnecessary and unhealthy sense of fear.  

3. This is why you must learn to lead

I want each of my team members to grow in their area of expertise.  However, there is one supreme thing that I desire they learn beyond their walk with God.  I want them to learn to lead.  Far more valuable than a talent is a leader who can gather and inspire talent.  I spend a great deal of time preparing and teaching leadership lessons to help my team advance in this area.  We pass around books, share podcasts, and discuss leadership for this very reason. 

When a team member is secure in their relationship knowing that there is a strong likelihood that their responsibilities will morph in the years to come, I believe he or she is more likely to be ready to advance into the future without fear of falling off of the tracks.

So, this is the last of our 10 Staff Core Principles.  I hope that they were of interest and help to each and every one of you.

(There are 10 Core Principles for ministry teamwork that our church staff has adopted. These 10 have helped our staff through our most excited days and challenging setbacks. I’ve already shared the 1st2nd3rd 4th, 5th, 6th , 7th , 8th , 9th principles in previous posts. Here I’ve shared our 10th – which is My Role Will Change.)

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