Perhaps you’d disagree. Or if you do agree, maybe you’d use the word unintentional or unfocused instead of lazy. Regardless, I don’t think most of us in ministry set out to be lazy, unintentional or unfocused; rather, I think we’re lulled into it if we’re not careful. Ministry is unique work, especially if it’s your vocation. Think about it. You get paid to pray with people. To encourage. To serve. To counsel. To study and teach the Bible. To do good. The potential problem this presents is that your work can become very nebulous in spite of all the good you’re doing. Over time, we even learn a language that we use to communicate with others concerning what our days and weeks look like. If you serve in a church or para-church, you’ll recognize these familiar phrases:
I’m journeying with people.
I’m doing ministry.
I’m helping people grow in Christ-likeness.
I’m loving on people.
I’m making disciples.
I’m reaching people for Christ.
I’m embracing ministry as a process.
I’m serving others.
I’m being missional.
Don’t misunderstand me. I think there’s a significant place for these activities (Well, most of them. For some, I don’t know exactly what they mean). The point is we’ll use phrases like those above in our daily interactions with other staff, volunteers and even family members in an attempt to convey that we’ve been, well…busy. We’re engaged. Though, how engaged are you, really? What exactly did you accomplish today? Yesterday? It’s a fair question. Right? You see, if we don’t guard against it, we can give one another, and especially those we’re leading, permission to let ministry remain this ambiguous stuff they’re doing each day. Lots of processing. Lots of loving on people. Lots of serving. Lots of good. Lots of coming and going. Lots of meetings. But what outcomes were accomplished? How did our efforts and the efforts of our team members help the church or organization move closer to reaching the overall vision?
Let me also add I certainly understand that ministry is reactive in nature. You could be faced with an unexpected challenge or crisis next week that you don’t even know about today. It doesn’t mean, though, that we should just let ministry happen to us each day. Be proactive. Set some goals. Help your people set some SMART goals. Goals that are…
Goals that keep us engaged in meaningful, productive ways. Goals that give us a sense of direction for our days and weeks. Goals that help eliminate ambiguity. Provide your boss an update on how you’re doing periodically in reaching those goals. Have formal and informal conversations with those you’re leading about their goals. What outcomes are they experiencing? What challenges are they faced with in trying to reach those goals? How can you help them work through those challenges? Further, take time to celebrate what God is doing in their life and ministry in light of their goals and outcomes.
So, what’s one SMART goal you could set today that would bring more clarity to your job and help your church or organization be more effective in accomplishing its mission or reaching its vision tomorrow? Pray about it. Write it down. Share it with your boss. Identify a deadline. Track your progress. Celebrate results!