Feb 3, 2011

Bicycling in the Dark-A Recipe for Ministry Disaster

      I remember having reflectors on my bicycle as a kid. They were handy as a safety feature but pretty worthless in the dark without a light shining on them. Bikes sported just about everything back then: reflectors, horns, pegs, and in my sister's case, a basket. Yes, it had everything but a light of its own.
     As leaders, we should be like reflectors. It doesn't matter if you teach Sunday school, a small group, or even pastor a church-we should be reflecting a light that is not our own.
     I have seen churches, youth groups, and small groups over the years crumble after a leader steps down. Why does this happen? Who is to blame? Both the leader and the followers share in this responsibility.
     Followers often put leaders on a pedestal and believe no other leader could fill his/her shoes. These"believers" run to the next vibrant and engaging speaker and do the same to him/her.
     As leaders, we often love to hear accolades of how good we are doing and how God is using us in someone else's life. We walk a tightrope between our own ego and God's glory. The glory should belong not to the one using the gifts but to the gift giver.
    We need to recognize that we will not always be around. Are we preparing our ministry for our eventual exit? Any of us could die this week.
    What would become of your ministry? Are your followers His followers? Your people need to be able to continue on without you. This means letting go and empowering your staff and volunteers to share more of the load. They need buy-in to change their point of view from helping with 'your' ministry to working in 'our' ministry.
    We must also help our followers to see that following you as a leader rather than seeking God through your ministry is idolatry. This false perception is perpetuated by us. When we give out fish rather than teach the art of fishing we enable our idol worshipers to continue looking at a light-less reflector. We are not God and need to practice continual glory shifting in order to keep pride from taking root in our life. Lead with Christ's legacy in mind. In fifty years people will be celebrating what God has done rather than mourning a dying ministry and wishing for the glory days when you were at the helm.
     Stop pedaling in the dark and ride toward His light. If it is always about Him, then it will be fine without you.

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madzymoo said...

Okay, this totally reminds me of the movie "City of Ember". Dunno if you've ever seen it but I feel it has a Biblical twist to it. It's about a city under ground and everyone works to provide light by electricity. Slowly their light source weakens as well as their canned food supply and soon, they will be forever in the dark. Bill Murray, the secretly evil town Mayor has something hidden from the people of Ember until two youngsters find out what it is... escape to the surface. But the best part is, the escape was clearly written out within the design and layout of the town, in plain view, that was just taken for artsy architecture. As the two kids gradually reach the surface, they pass signs saying "watch your step", "don't fall", and "for the good of all man kind".
This whole pathway of escape to freedom was designed by the architects. And I've always thought of God as THE Architect. :)
Anyways I'm kind of blabbing but it's awesome.

Inside Nate's Head said...

Wow! I am definitely gonna watch it soon. I may even do a review on it (even though it is older now-if it has faith ties, then I'm in) In case you haven't noticed-I love analogies.

Jenny - covered in His dust said...

You make a great point here! I've worked with people before (and probably been one too - yikes!) who like to keep their knowledge and abilities inside their own head because they think it makes them more valuable. If I tell everything I know, then I won't be any different from anybody else, right? Ugh.

And in ministry it's the same sometimes. We don't want to let go of where we are because either we think that's WHO we are or else that we somehow got so puffed up as to think that no one else can do it as well as we do. Ha!

But we know the Kingdom of God is upside down, right? We are disciple-makers of the One True God. And if we're gonna point people to Him, our heart's desire should be to see others grow in Christ, flourish in ministry (wherever that is) and prepare the next generation of believers for the next generation of the lost.

madzymoo said...

Analogies- exactly! Like your sermons.

Inside Nate's Head said...

Exactly Jenny, we have to realize that the whole organization is better when we invest in people. Thanks for chiming in.

Inside Nate's Head said...

Wait, madzymoo do I know you?