First In, First Out


Matt Wright

Fri Dec 28 2018

There are those among us who seem to just be born with a high level of grit. They don’t stop until the task is done. They could be a number-crunching CFO, a dedicated employee, an artist at a canvas, or a leader who just won’t give up no matter what.

Let’s set those amazing folks aside for a moment…

There are others of us who have ideas and think of ourselves as entrepreneurial. We love to start things and many times will walk away before it’s finished. In the church world, we tend to think of these people as higher caliber leaders, but we aren’t. We just have more books (that we read the summaries of…), and most of the like-minded people are the ones who speak at conferences. They make us feel better about ourselves.

We’re the starters. We’re the quitters.

We are the First In and First Out.

I have a theory that is not backed by data anywhere because I don’t have the money, nor the grit, to study it. I just think that we’re the ones who quit too soon. We didn’t like middle school and we couldn’t wait to get to high school. Then we hated high school. We would have quit both if our mom would have let us. We wanted to play the drums, but it didn’t come naturally so we gave up after five lessons. We got to college… yeah, we hated that too, and would have quit if we weren’t on scholarship and investing large sums of money.

There are hundreds (dozens?) of us nationally that just took a ministry job at a local church after finishing our education. For the first time ever, no one is going to make us stay after it.  The clock is ticking and a whole bunch of us burn out before year three. We launched that ministry, we started that thing, we even started those things that had nothing to do with our job description. We got people excited… and then… the newness wore off.

For those of us who took the only job we could get, we find ourselves in a dangerous spot. This is really no different than how we felt back in middle school or taking viola lessons. This is work. This takes grit. We quit, and we say that God has called us to something else. Or our shallow attitude gets the best of us and we get fired for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or for not understanding how to do the right thing at the right time.

Some of us were fortunate enough to have some folks around us who wouldn’t let us quit by year three. At Slingshot, we’re all about longterm ministry fit.

When we say “stick it out for at least three to five years” to a 23-year-old, they may wonder if we realize that we’re talking about more than 10% of their entire life. It sounds eternal. Later in life, we have the perspective that three to five years sounds more like a long weekend.

For those of us who’ve been down this path and lived to tell about it, it’s now our turn to be First In with those coming behind us, and help them to not be the First Out.

Matt Wright

For over 20 years, Matt has served in local churches in roles ranging from Worship/Creative Arts Pastor, Executive Pastor, and Lead Pastor. After working in the marketplace, Matt began vocational ministry in church leadership with a natural passion for focusing every effort of the church on the Great Commission with intentional leadership, careful shepherding, and effective strategic planning. Most recently, Matt served as the Executive Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, IL. Before his role as XP, he launched and was the Lead Pastor for Willow Creek's South Lake Campus and the Executive Pastor for Willow Creek's North Shore campus. In addition, he has coached many churches and nonprofits across multiple denominations, both in the US and abroad. These combine to give Matt a broad experience base that he loves to utilize to help individuals and churches find their sweet spot between the way God created them and the work he is calling them to do (Ephesians 2:10). He relishes every opportunity to help build remarkable teams that move churches forward. Matt brings all this passion, excitement, and experience to his role as Vice President of Slingshot's Senior Leadership division. This world-class team serves churches across the country in all areas of senior leadership, including Lead Pastors, Executives, Campus Pastors, Teaching Pastors, Discipleship Pastors, and more. Matt and his wife Christa have three (very active) boys and reside in Chicago. They love time together, music, their small group, and complaining about the Chicago weather.