Archives For January 2009

Imagine… Obstacles Pt. 5

Mike —  January 6, 2009 — Leave a comment

One of the great dangers of leadership is this: we stop doing ministry out of imagination and we start doing ministry out of memory. We learn how and forget why. We stop creating the future and start repeating the past.” – Mark Batterson

Painful Circumstances can also cause us to rely on memory/autopilot for ministry. Hurting people hurt other people. In ministry, often hurting people hurt those in leadership. Church splits, miscommunicated messages, death or illness… these things hurt church leaders deeply and when we hurt, we can tend to rest in places we already know are safe – reducing the risk of further injury.

But you can’t do ministry from a shell. Ministry requires our hearts to be exposed in order to touch those around us. Instead of resting in the comfort of the cocoon, however, we need to lean into the blows that will come our way. Perhaps it’s a fleshing out of the proverbial “turning the other cheek.” You’ve given yourself in ministry and been hurt. You could withdraw into a mode of ministry that keeps you insulated, but that also renders you ineffective. Or you can choose to offer yourself again and again to the wolves who will snipe and bite at everything from your intelligence to your electric bill to your availability, to your character…

It doesn’t sound very appealing to just say “I’m going to give myself in ministry to people who will take me for granted, chew me up, and spit me out.” Honestly, it sounds pretty stupid, and my mind tells me that the people who would cause me pain don’t deserve my efforts. Thank God that Jesus has a clearer mind than mine!

The imagination of Christ tells him to die so sinners can live.
The imagination of Christ tells him to open up his friend’s tomb and tell him to come back out – after he’d been dead for several days!
The imagination of Christ tells him to pick up a cross and go where God is leading, even though it seems that God is not there.

I’m not advocating pastoral abuse here. There are plenty of stories of ministers who’ve just been emotionally and spiritually beaten up. It’s not ok. But if you’re in ministry (or any other type of leadership) there will be some painful circumstances that come along. Don’t let them derail the holy imagination that God has placed within you. Don’t let them dull the mind of Christ, creatively living within you. Play hurt when you need to. Make time for rest and recuperation. But don’t give up hope.

Imagine… Obstacles Pt. 4

Mike —  January 5, 2009 — Leave a comment

One of the great dangers of leadership is this: we stop doing ministry out of imagination and we start doing ministry out of memory. We learn how and forget why. We stop creating the future and start repeating the past.” – Mark Batterson

Another obstacle to doing ministry out of imagination instead of memory is the tension between Past Success and an Uncertain Future. If a particular part of our ministry has gone over well, it’s tempting to not fix what isn’t broken. The logic is sound. But what if my ministry now needs a rocket instead of my good-enough-as-it-is bike to get where God is leading?

If you’ve ever dealt with stocks, you’ve heard that “past performance is not a guarantee of future results” or something similar. Just because something worked once, doesn’t mean it will work again, or even that we need it to work again.

But it’s tempting, when something went well, to rinse, lather, and repeat without thinking about why it worked in the first place. It’s comforting to know that “it worked before, so we’ll do it again.” The problem is, when it doesn’t work anymore, we’re often too slow to realize/admit it. “We just need to do better.” “We should have promoted more effectively.” “We just picked the wrong date.” All these (and more) can be ways to excuse ourselves from facing the reality in front of us that what once was our shining moment, has now become… something less.

Doing ministry out of imagination requires us to use past success as a vehicle that will launch us into tomorrow instead of a bed upon which to rest or a wall to prop us up. Even the best of our ministries/events/activities of today will not be sufficient to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Take some time to think about your ministry, whatever that is. What are you doing because it’s just what you do? What may be losing effectiveness and energy because it’s lost purpose? Begin to dream of what could be… Search the heart of God – ask Him to reveal His dreams for your ministry. Then, do whatever it takes to help Him turn His dreams into reality.