They say you’re not supposed to use cruise control while driving on wet roads. Why? The theory is, it causes hydroplaning and everything goes haywire. The result? The driver loses control. How many times in your life have you felt like you’ve lost control? For some of us, it’s at home. For others, at work. And for those in the chaos of professional ministry (if we can oblige such a term), it happens in the building and leading of organizations that exist to meet important needs – both physical and spiritual.
Early in my career as a pastor, I would have never thought that ministry – or any value-based vocation – could have become such a tyrant. But I see people every day that are running around as if something, and it’s an important something, is on fire. I see people whose lives are being dictated by seemingly urgent things, all the while ignoring what got them into the seat to address those urgent things in the first place. I’ve been there myself, and my bet is that you have too. It’s not a fun place to be, where you feel like you’ve lost all sense of control on what was supposed to be a life focused on inspiration and good will. I can spot chaos from a mile away, and I tend to gravitate toward it. One of my favorite things to do is find that chaos and establish order. That can involve people, systems, processes and strategy.
So, at the risk of over-simplifying a problem, I’ve categorized the majority (and I mean majority, as I’m not trying to be all-encompassing) of our chaos issues into the following categories. And guess what? We have influence over all of them.
Messiah Complexes. You know what I’m talking about. Especially in the ministry world, too many of us want to save the day all on our own. There’s a million reasons why this exists, but I’m not a psychologist so I won’t try to explain any of them. The point here is, if you have one, get over yourself. It’s not about you. You can’t save anyone, so stop trying to do everything.
Failure to Launch (Others). Discipleship isn’t a class, nor is it a program. And, it’s not limited to scheduled meeting times – although it could certainly involve all of the before-mentioned items. If you’re a leader and you don’t regularly invite others (subordinates, volunteer leaders, people looking to be mentored) with you, then you’re missing something. You’ll not pass on much of who you are or what you do, and you’ll likely never leave crazy town.
No Clear Destination in Mind. I’ve heard it said, “You end up where you’re headed”. In other words, you’re going to end up somewhere. That place may be somewhere you intend, or it may be “where the road takes you”. The first includes intentionality, and the latter usually accompanies a lack of planning. If you want to create a culture of empowerment (and take a ton of things off your plate in the process), get out a map and chart the course.
Being Good at Something (But Not Everything). I’m good at a lot of things. I’m only great at a couple things. And I can’t do everything (nor should I want to). The captain of the crazy ship is the guy (or girl) who doesn’t know or want to admit what they’re not good at. They further can’t see the strength in others, so they never put people in the seats that match up the two. Don’t be that person.
If I could say it nicely, I would. Instead, I’ll say it like this: if you’re in the middle of crazy town, in a ministry (or otherwise) leadership position, chances are it’s not your bosses fault – or anyone else’s but your own. So, recognize the problem, and get to the other side of it. Peace awaits.
Let me know if I can help. firstname.lastname@example.org