ministry

Leave Them Better Than You Found Them

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I remembered something.  Actually, I was just about ready to fall asleep and I had a thought pop into my brain.  As a side note, that is a strange place for that to happen for me, usually it is when I am taking a shower that I think the clearest.  But anyway, I got to thinking about how in many different places in my life I have been told to “leave it better than you found it.”  This is easy to understand when you are given something to borrow, or you are in someone’s home.  But what about if we thought the same about the people we encountered everyday?

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Encouragement comes in many places.

I was at a hotel with my family some months ago and I noticed an older couple strolling around the lobby.  The older man was in a wheelchair and his wife was pushing him around.  Immediately I had compassion for them because they looked tired to me.  She loved him and would do anything for him.   He had some sort of health problem that limited him to the wheelchair.  I noticed they wanted to go into the pool area to see what was going on in there, but holding the door was challenging.  I went over a held the door so they could come in and then when they left again.  They both smiled at me and thanked me for my help.  I didn’t do much, but I hope I left them better than I found them.

Words have the power to hurt and heal.  Of course working with people can be a challenge.  If I chose to be negative or grumble about others, I will just add negativity to an already negative situation.  People don’t always do things like I do them.  Sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes other people make mistakes.  We are all human.  One thing that helps make things better is gratitude. I can say thank you.  In fact, I have found that one way to counteract negativity in the workplace or in the home is to say thank you, even to that person that can rub you wrong.  Actually, this is probably something we all can do better at.  It doesn’t hurt and it is free.

What can you do today to leave them better than you found them?  Someone needs you to lift them up today. 

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Who can you lift up today? 

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A Little Appreciation

I know this is pastor appreciation month, but I really don’t want to make too big a deal of that.  It is not that I don’t want to be appreciated, but rather that I feel like I don’t need any extra attention.  Many people show appreciation all year long to me and those notes of encouragement are very helpful in keeping my head on straight sometimes.  It is real special when something is received from a child – a child who decided to write a few things down about their pastor and leave it on his desk.  I get excited about things like that because a little appreciation helps me see that important connections are being made with the children in the church.  That, to me, is one of the greatest compliments and affirmations of my ministry I could receive.  Thank you!

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Our Pastor is Compassionate

It is time to get inside the fence!

I found an interesting note in my notebook tonight.  It was a simple phrase that I wrote after a trip our family took to Pennsylvania in the spring.  The note was in reference to a picture of my daughter feeding a horse through the fence.  The fence was electric and it was on.  We had to carefully stick the carrot in between the wires and convince the horse to come close to the fence to get the food.

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The whole scene reminded me of ministry and the different ways people approach it.  What I wrote was: “Sometimes we are lazy and feed people through the fence, but we need to take a risk and go inside the gate.”   I know that so many times people distance themselves from the pastor or ministry leader because they are just unsure.   It is even worse when the pastor is the one distancing themselves from the people!  But it sure makes a difference when the pastor or ministry leader does not sit on the outside of the gate, but rather enters in and relates to them as people.

We must never get so busy with the day-to-day tasks of ministry that we forget the importance of spending time in proximity with people.  I know that it makes a much greater impact on lives when we love the people we serve more than the task of serving them.

If you lead a ministry, how do you make sure you don’t just go through the motions of ministry?  In other words, how do you ensure that you are entering into the fence and relating versus just sticking your hand through the fence?

 It is time to get inside the fence! 

Throwing Out the Template

Think creativity and new!

Think creativity and new!

What would happen if we started over every time we came to a new ministry event?  What if we looked at each new event as a fresh start, a clean slate?  What if instead of laziness and routine we found ourselves in a creative and cutting edge place?  Maybe there needs to be more done than just changing the dates on a flyer in order to remain fresh and moving in ministry.   People need creative thinkers right now who are willing to step into each event with fresh eyes.  I am not saying that we can’t use some of the same stuff we have already created.  What I am saying is that each event needs to be put together with intention beyond just getting it done and over with.  We need vision for true impact on lives for eternity.  With that in mind, I offer three indicators that it is time to start throwing out some templates in your ministry.

You routinely have missed errors because of the date

If you know what I am talking about, then you need to throw out the template.  These are those times when you come to a meeting or some other event and you realize that the printed materials have the wrong date because all you did was print out last year’s materials with a slight change.  I know creating something new can feel daunting, but give it a try.

Creativity is lost

If you have not had a creative idea in years, it is time to throw out the template and to start brainstorming again.  Creativity will only come with time and collaboration.  I know the best events are those that are planned over a period of time with many people.  The worst ones are those thrown together at the last minute.  We need to dream again in the church and use the talented people right there!

You don’t know why this program is going on

We are all busy enough without adding programs that just fill time.  This can be a difficult place to be because the programs might be a lot of fun.  Over time people get very comfortable in their routines.  Still, that is not a valid reason when it comes to deciding what is done and when.  If you don’t know why a program exists, it is time to take a step back and consider what direction you need to be heading.  Sometimes the best thing that can happen is to stop a program.  When you do that, the things that are important become better because more time is invested in doing those things well.

I know that ministry planning is difficult, but we do want to leverage the influence we have in order to make the most impact.  I believe there are many creative ideas out there that would help us reach our communities for Jesus.  It is time to ask the question: “why”  and be willing to throw some programs out in order to do what God is calling.  Have you asked God in a while to clear the clutter in your ministry?  Have you looked at your calendar with fresh eyes?  Have you inquired of the people serving as to their level of energy and commitment?  When we evaluate, we  learn and the church is better for it.

Do you have any methods or tools you use to keep things fresh in your ministry or life?