In ministry, there is the constant pressure to wear every hat of every role that people expect you to fulfill. In smaller and rural churches, this can be especially true and exhausting. One day you are the preacher; the next day, you are the plumber. You read, study, write, mow the church grass or clean the bathrooms, write the giving letter, make a couple of posts on social media, attend the city council meeting, and wrap your week up by visiting Alice’s Uncle Paul who is in the hospital for stubbing his toe. You get the picture.
Everyone wants you to be the pastor they want. However, their cries are not always your calling. Yes, you have a calling to be a shepherd to the church to which God has called you, but there is a difference between loving and caring for the sheep and being a slave to the sheep.
So, before you wear down, burn out, or walk away from the church, let me offer three suggestions to create space and remind you of your mission.
1. Create a Servant Culture
Churches that just show up to observe, feel better about themselves, and then go home are missing the commission of Jesus. The church was never designed to be a stagnant building of observation. The church was intended to be the launchpad of action-oriented servants that will do whatever is needed for the kingdom of Jesus.
Unfortunately, it seems more challenging than ever to find people willing to serve. I’m afraid it’s because we are often just asking people to complete tasks and not inviting them into a culture that makes Jesus famous. Don’t just ask someone to do something in your church and leave them on that island until they are dead. Create opportunities to serve together as a church. Collect school supplies for Kleenex for the local school and then deliver them to them. Clean up a couple of yards together as a church for some neighbors in town. A culture of serving creates servants who look like Jesus.
“Don’t just ask someone to do something in your church and leave them on that island until they are dead. Create opportunities to serve together as a church.”
2. Ask for Help
Too often, preachers and leaders want to serve so much that they stand in the way of others helping. Everyone admires a servant leader, but those observing will think they aren’t needed after a while. Instead, create space for others to help.
You don’t have to be an expert at much to clean a bathroom. I bet there is someone in your church who loves to mow the grass. Some teenagers in your church are far better at social media than you are. Give them direction and let them serve. I know you want it done right, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. Your hands can only extend so far.
The more you give guidance, equipping and encouraging those around you, the farther your leadership will go. An obvious sign of a weak leader is someone who thinks they have to do everything themselves for it to be correct. Ask for help, and your church will be better because of it.
“An obvious sign of a weak leader is someone who thinks they have to do everything themselves for it to be correct.”
3. Prioritize Your Gifted Hats
Sure, some days you don’t have much choice, but you do on most days. So choose to spend the most time leading inside your gifts. For example, if God has given you a gift for preaching, then preach the best sermon week in and week out. Suppose you are incredible at engaging with people online; leverage that gift for the kingdom. Some of us are skilled in organization, processes, and efficiency. Use those skills to align others and point them to Jesus.
God has given you unique talents that He desires you to use in ways that others can’t. You have been designed for a reason, so don’t shortchange the design for others’ demands. We live in disobedience if we consistently bury our gifts in busy work to keep people happy.
“Don’t shortchange the design for others’ demands.”
The more you try to meet everyone’s “hat” demands, the more likely you will be to eventually take yours off altogether and walk away…and the kingdom of Jesus still needs you!
From leadrural.com. Used with permission.