shelf life + denial = expiration
It’s no secret that there’s a shelf life when it comes to leadership in the local church. No matter how much you may try to preserve your front-and-center position, there will come a day when you are no longer your church’s first or best choice for the future. It’s real, completely natural, and even biblical. So why not become the first in your church to recognize this reality and take proactive measures to preserve your leadership?
There are certain things you can do to extend and preserve your ministry effectiveness. Here are 10 suggestions to help you stay fresh, relevant and employed.
- Rethink: Spend concentrated time with God and in the council of others to determine a modified method to fulfill your ultimate purpose. Although it may be essentially the same, how it’s expressed probably needs to change.
- Relinquish: Instead of holding on to center stage for dear life, be the first to realize it’s time to gradually move up stage, to stage right, or to stage left. Make a way for the generations that follow to have a preferred seat at the table or find their stride front and center! This of course has huge implications, including identifying and developing talent around you.
- Relegate: Embrace that your main job is to give ministry away. You should always be working toward handing roles and responsibilities over to others who show signs of potential. Never underestimate the power of a volunteer who is led well. Identify early on those who you can mentor into lead roles within your area of ministry.
- Recruit: Pursue young talent! Find those in their teens, 20s and 30s who show signs of interest, gifting, skill, and a willingness to learn. Realize that as you speak IN to the lives of these up-and-comers, they’ll likely hang on your every word. Don’t be afraid to entrust them with more than you think possible—they will oftentimes rise to the occasion.
- Recalibrate: Dial in the rhythm of your week (time management) so you can make well-informed decisions and act on those decisions swiftly, thoroughly and with graciousness. This will provide margin in your week to develop the up-and-comers you have adopted to groom in ministry. Your new mindset should be to facilitate ministry rather than DO ministry. This may require some structural and staffing adjustments.
- Renovate: Be aware that what has worked in the past will probably not work so well in the future. Whether it’s the way you design a service, communicate a message, reach out to your unchurched community, or lead a staff meeting, it’s a good idea to shake things up every now and again. Even if it means making mistakes along the way, you’ll discover innovation, which often leads to success. Remember: imagination x initiative = innovation.
- Recreate: Take time for self-improvement, and work from the inside out. Do a serious heart check, head check and body check. Admit it: We all need makeovers now and again. Grant people you respect permission to tell you the hard things about yourself (this may result in diligent work on your part). Budget for self-development/improvement. Cooperate with God, as He longs to finish what He has begun in you.
- Realize: Staying relevant requires that you realize what is going on in the world around you. Stay culturally, globally, socially and spiritually AWARE of what is happening in the world. What’s trending? What patterns are you seeing that are shaping perspectives and style? What communicates best? Hint: Embrace social media!
- Resonate: By pressing into culture, you’ll be able to relate to how people think, how they learn best, and what motivates them…especially when it comes to generations after you. Your awareness of culture will affect how people perceive you. Being “in the world, but not of it” means that you’re able to understand and relate to the challenges of life and how those challenges fit in the context of the Gospel story without compromising your core beliefs and values.
- Rest: There’s no doubt that the most attractive people reaching “mid-life” are those who are comfortable in their own skin and are not self-consumed “stivers.” Those that walk in the Spirit and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit are the attractive ones!
Rather than stressing out about who you aren’t as you read these tips, consider them to be mere prompters to help keep you in a state of “becoming.” Realize that authentic change takes time. If your motivation to change is pure and God-focused, there’s no doubt He will guide you and provide for you in this journey of becoming—not for your glory, but for His. The church will surely become more beautiful as a result.
By: Monty Kelso