Today I asked Chat GPT to give me a list of 10 common things people expect pastors and ministry leaders to do. In 2.4 seconds it gave me this list:
1. Spiritual Guidance
2. Preaching and Teaching
3. Sacraments and Rituals
4. Community Building
5. Crisis Support
6. Pastoral Care
7. Administration and Leadership
8. Social Justice and Advocacy
10. Modeling Values
Obviously, people in your congregation heap a lot onto your pastoral plate. This is a daunting list, requiring a skill-set that’s hard, if not impossible, to find in one person. Add into this mix something we all share with the Apostle Paul—that particular “thorn in our side” that we wish Jesus would just take away, but doesn’t. Whatever it is, that “thorn” makes living out our responsibilities and callings more difficult. We wonder if “My grace is sufficient for you” is really sufficient-enough…
But one “thorn” that makes all of the expectations on our top-10 list harder, across the board, is a penchant for disorganization. At the core of our leadership is trust—it takes a lifetime to build up trust with people, and only a moment to topple it. If ministry leadership is like a Jenga tower, then trust is the one wooden block that will topple the tower if it’s pulled out. That’s why I believe a resolve to grow in our organizational skills is the one New Year’s resolution that’s really worth our perseverance…
Over the course of almost four decades of my own ministry leadership, I’ve led many national “presenter teams” for workshop tours and regional training events. For one 100-city workshop tour that was offered every year, I recruited 15 seasoned leaders as presenters. Before each year’s new tour we met together for a two-day training to prepare them. These people were what I’d call cream-of-the-crop leaders—most of them were doing their own ministry training all over the country before they joined our team.
To start off each new training gathering, I’d ask the presenter team to tell me some “whopper” stories from their time on the road the previous year. Every single story they told was tied to a bad experience with one of our “church partners”—ministry leaders who offer their church as a workshop location and agree to partner with us to pull off the event for their city. I heard story after story of church partners who did little or none of the simple preparations we’d asked them to do in advance of the event. After dozens of phone calls and emails, many of these leaders simply dropped the ball entirely—forcing our presenters to scramble late the night before the presentation to pull it all together.
One of our presenters looked at me with bewilderment and said, “I just don’t understand how so many could flat-out ignore what they were supposed to do—it’s not that hard to host this event.” “Well,” I said, “you can’t understand it because you follow through on your commitments and make sure you’re organized—that’s one big reason why your ministry has been so effective.”
When Jesus told the “parable of the talents” (Matthew 25:14-28), he was trying to say that in God’s kingdom, the people who are trusted with greater and greater opportunities to partner with God are those who follow through on their responsibilities—people who can be trusted to do what they’ve been asked to do, people who take what God has entrusted to them and work to increase it. The parable says these organized, reliable, focused, proactive servants get to “share the master’s happiness.”
Disorganization and unreliability in ministry has a profound impact on the level of trust given to us by parents, other church staffers, and especially, the people in our congregation. Trust is the fuel that animates deeper impact in ministry. It opens the door to our passion for ministry—influencing others into a life-changing relationship with Jesus. As blunt as is sounds, disorganized ministry leaders don’t get to share in God’s happiness. Maybe that’s why organized leaders seem to stick around a lot longer than disorganized ones.
I’ve had plenty of “unfaithful servant” moments. And I’ve experienced what it’s like to “enter into the master’s happiness.” The gap between the two experiences is transformational space. And it highlights the reason why growing in my organizational skills is worth a resolution… We get to choose the “talents” camp we settle into—the faithful or the unfaithful servants.
If you would like help in growing and strengthening your organizational skills, reach to connect with a Vibrant Faith Ministry Leadership Coach. Just CLICK HERE for more information. Coaching is an intentional process that moves you forward into the future you long for.