Three Key Ministry Leadership Traits To Embrace During Challenging Times
By: Tim Gocha
Our staff holds a monthly Lunch N’ Learn where we invite a ministry leader to speak to our team about a topic that will help us better love and serve the whole church. Recently, we had the honor of hearing from Shawn Lovejoy, Founder and CEO of CourageToLead. He provided nuggets of inspiration and wisdom about the current state of church leaders and how best to serve them through this unique time. One key point he addressed was that in this season, leaders need to operate with high levels of care, communication, and consistency as churches regain momentum.
As I reflected on Shawn’s insights and advice, I determined there are three areas ministry leaders need to embrace during this season of change in order to avoid burnout and maintain peace in the midst of chaos.
1. Embrace Vulnerability
I’ve seen more leaders than I can count (including myself) turn to isolation in the midst of a difficult season. Whether it’s not wanting to burden others, feeling like as the leader you should manage it all, or feeling like no one will understand your experience if you turned to them, recoiling from community is a common coping strategy for leaders facing hardship. However, as Christ-followers, deep down we know the critical role of a strong community, especially during challenging times. Scriptures such as Galatians 6:2, Matthew 18:20, and Romans 12:5 repeatedly remind us that our faith can be restored in the company of others.
As ministry leaders, caring for others is a huge part of your job. However, there are seasons when it’s critical to allow others to pour into you. Feel confident leaning into others, recognizing that just as you pour into your community, they are willing and ready to support you as well.
It’s even, and potentially more, beneficial to express some of your fears, disappointments, and difficulties with your congregation and staff. More than ever, people are seeking deep relationships and wisdom from their ministry leaders, so letting them into some of your pain can help them feel more understood and connected to you.
More than ever, people are seeking deep relationships and wisdom from their ministry leaders, so letting them into some of your pain can help them feel more understood and connected to you.
Here are some other benefits of focusing on becoming a hyper-localized pastor, focusing on real issues in your world and community.
2. Protect Your Character
As a ministry leader, it’s unlikely to take a break from ministering to others, even during your own difficult times. Add a global pandemic and a complete shift in ministry operations, and it can feel impossible to quiet your soul, take time to refresh, and manage challenges in your own life. That’s why it’s critical to hold strong to your soul in the midst of change and as you pour out so much to the community. To fill someone else’s cup, you have to have a full cup yourself. This means, while your job doesn’t stop, you might need to sacrifice something else in order to ensure you’re charging your battery. Look at your calendar before each week begins and determine what can go undone in order for you to have quiet time, go on walks, invest in a hobby, or spend time with family. Intentionally giving yourself permission to care for yourself will also ensure you’re in a good space to show up as your best self when pouring into others.
If you’re tempted into isolation, it can also be tempting to turn to less healthy ways of managing your full plate. Lean on those around you for support as you seek spirit-filling solutions and routines that can keep you going through seasons of extreme change.
3. Invest In An Entrepreneurial Spirit
Once you have a community of support and a strong mindset ready for the road ahead, it’s going to be important to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit moving forward. Since COVID-19, change has been faster and more tech-focused than ever which is a huge shift for a lot of leaders. We learned that we must get comfortable with technology and be flexible in the face of this accelerated change to remain effective as a leader.
If you’re someone who struggles with change, look at this season as an opportunity for God to show you new ways that he is in control. Most importantly, remember that trying something new will have a learning curve and you will encounter stumbling blocks. But this doesn’t mean that your leadership or ministry is failing. Everyone is navigating uncharted territory that will introduce failed attempts, but there has never been a better time to exercise faith in God’s sovereignty.
As you look ahead, work with your team to consider what elements of your ministry are critical to your mission and where you have wiggle room for trial and error to begin forming new strategies.
Shawn left us with his prediction that churches who are spending this season preparing for growth will flourish in the coming months. Investing in yourself and your current community will ensure a stable platform for growth and opportunity down the road. After all, for everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him (Matthew 25:29).
If you’re currently in a season of growth or reorganization and are looking to hire a new member on your team, we would love to walk alongside you through that process. Connect with us to get started building your best team.