I hope you noticed that some of the strategies for developing people and growing ministry have to do with developing and growing you! It’s critical that you focus on your own growth and development so that you are energized and equipped to lead your team and your volunteers!
- Have fun… you’ll be re-energized! I recently had a silly phone conversation with my mother, ending with gales of laughter. When we managed to regain our composure, she commented that laughter is the best medicine. I had to admit that I was feeling more energized when I hung up the phone.
- Join the community. Our culture encourages isolation. You know it and I know it. And it’s so easy to give in to the urge to isolate after a long week of ministry, isn’t it? Two years ago I was laid off from a church staff position that was more than full-time. I didn’t know my neighbors and rarely even spoke to them. One of the benefits of being unemployed for a season was time to walk in my neighborhood and meet the folks in my community. So… bake some cookies for your neighbors or take a break from mowing the lawn to hang out over the fence for a chat. Have a life outside of church!
- Lead from your strengths. What is it that makes us focus more on overcoming our weaknesses than capitalizing on our strengths? What a waste of energy! Yes, it is helpful to recognize your growing edges, but if that’s your top priority, you will miss plenty of opportunity to grow your strengths. Not sure what your strengths are? Assessments abound! Try StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath, or Leading From Your Strengths, by John Trent. Ask trusted friends. Make a list and start leading from there!
- Talk openly. I have been meeting regularly with a spiritual director for over four years. This has become a safe place where I can talk openly–bare my soul. It’s a place where I confess and receive forgiveness, and find that the obstacles that impair my ability to hear the Holy Spirit are removed. I can’t begin to describe the freedom that has come from engaging in this as a spiritual discipline, making me a more effective serving leader.
- Be Externally focused. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in church work that we forget that there’s more to life than church. Try serving at a local non-profit simply as you, without the church title. You will gain fresh perspective when you get outside your own ministry and experience serving as a non-staff person.
- Take care of you. Get a physical. Go to the dentist. Get your eyes examined. Get a haircut. Take a long hot bath. Read a book that has nothing to do with ministry. Go for a walk. Have coffee with a friend. Go on a vacation. Whatever you need to do to take care of you… do it!
- Add some dazzle to your ministry. Add color! I painted the walls of my office purple–it’s my favorite color and it always infuses me with creativity and joy. I even write with a purple pen! Or invest in a new resource that challenges your status quo, adding something new and dynamic to your ministry tool box. What dazzles you? Figure out a way to incorporate it into your ministry.
Developing and growing YOU leads to sustainable and fruitful ministry. Practice the “Y”s of the A to Z Guidelines!