“I never seem to have enough time in a day to do everything I need to get done in my ministry.”
“I just don’t have enough willing and skilled people to get the work done.”
“We are always short of funds to carry out our mission.”
This is the second of three blogs discussing what it means to leading abundantly in a time of scarcity. Here we will consider the need for more people to carry out the ministry to which we have been called.
Ministry requires co-laborers; people who are called, gifted and empowered to serve alongside us in the work to which we have been called. Most ministry leaders would confess that they have empathized with the words of Jesus as he looked out at the wheat fields and lamented, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Luke 10:2)
The demands of our work often require us to recruit more and more people to fill key volunteer positions. Yet unfortunately we too often find too few people who are willing to make the commitment of time and talents that our vision requires. When we are pressed for human resources we can, as leaders, fall into two traps that actually end up working against our passion to involve God’s people in God’s work. They are 1) the temptation to treat people as means and not ends, and 2) the desire to mold rather than unfold our people.
The first temptation is utilitarian; we need people to get a job done, so we approach people with the attitude of the ‘user’. We don’t do this consciously. We may believe that our ministry is to love and nurture and disciple our people. But when we are pressed, it is easy to see people as a means to an end, and when we do, we become users of people, not ministers. We must be on guard for this temptation, for it will whither the soul of those with whom we work. Do you see your people as means to accomplish your work, or are your people your work?
The second temptation is to try to mold our people into the forms we need them to take in order to accomplish our goals. Again we may not do this consciously, but it is easy to become manipulative in the way we involve people in our ministry. The molding process seems like a faster and more efficient way to get things done, but it will steal the joy and passion of your people.
The alternative process we enter into can be described as unfolding. We can seek to help our people unfold the talents and character with which God has gifted them. Think of a flower in the spring or a piece of ornate origami. The more it is unfolded, the more beautiful it becomes. Every small movement unveils another hidden treasure. So it is with our people. As they are freed to see themselves as God sees them, they become more useful to the Master, and they respond with joyful obedience.
Are you trying to mold your people, or are you committed to seeing them unfold under the loving influence of the Holy Spirit?
There are enough people to serve our ministries, and they will willingly and joyfully follow the leader who loves them and helps them see in themselves the person God created them to be.