Local church leadership and ministry are not easy.
Some people can be quick to complain, criticize, and leave if things don’t go to their liking, even after you love and lead them well.
There are days when you may want to throw in the towel. Most leaders tell me there have been “many a Monday” when they were done, but thankfully they chose to stay.
It’s best, however, to focus on all the good, especially the amazing people who lead and serve so well and the lives that are forever changed.
There are seasons of ministry when you think it’s time to quit, but God always has a better idea.
Not everyone is called to vocational ministry or vocational ministry for a lifetime. In fact, in many cases, you can do more ministry if you’re not carrying the weight of church leadership.
Frankly, God can change your career if He wants to! I’m writing just in case maybe God wants you to stay and you are struggling. Don’t quit. (If you’re a volunteer leader, this is for you too.)
The following are just seven of the many good reasons I have remained in local church ministry.
Knowing the reasons to stay in church leadership helps you keep going in the tough seasons. Have you settled the reasons for you?
7 Good Reasons:
1) The miraculous still has me in awe.
The Holy Spirit still speaks, people continue to be healed, and God’s Word is just as powerful today as when it was first written. This list could, of course, be much longer, but the point is clear. The Church operates in the supernatural realm, it can’t be managed, and the mystery of God is undeniably beautiful. It just doesn’t get old.
We don’t have to be in full-time ministry to be fully amazed and engaged with the miraculous, but I want to be as close to the front lines as possible.
2) With a clear and strong purpose, problems energize me.
Four churches have captured my heart over these years.
It began with a small church, Lakeside Wesleyan in a suburb of San Diego where I was the part-time student pastor. Then after seminary, it was Skyline Church, also in San Diego, ending as XP. We moved to Atlanta, and I served at North Point Church as a volunteer, (while with INJOY Ministries with John Maxwell,) and there I led a small group area fellowship and served as a board member. Currently, I’m in my 18th year at 12Stone Church as XP.
I have loved every church and still do.
There are three things each church has had in common, in addition to the presence of God; first, a clear and compelling vision, second, an amazing environment filled with great leaders, and third, problems to be solved.
Problems are part of the territory in leadership. Leaders solve problems, make progress, and help people! It’s that simple. There are no problem free churches that continue to take new territory for Jesus!
3) It’s clear to me that the good a church does will far outweigh its mistakes.
Consulting hundreds of churches, I’ve never found a perfect one. That’s a good thing. If churches were perfect, I couldn’t go!
Leaders are human and make mistakes. Decisions have to be made, and sometimes, they are flawed. But if you consider the big picture over the long haul, the church has been and continues to be, a force for good.
I remember the 9/11 tragedy like it was yesterday. The country was devasted. That Sunday churches across the country were full, and that continued for several weeks. People still know that the church is the place of hope in times of great uncertainty. The church brings light in our darkest hours.
4) I’m still learning and growing.
One of the requirements to run the distance in ministry is to keep learning.
Honestly, I think I’m learning, changing, and adapting faster than ever. One reason is that culture is changing more rapidly than ever. Relevance in leadership is directly connected to your ability to adapt and change.
Cultural relevance does not include compromising the gospel; it means learning to communicate it in a way that people can receive it.
What are you learning new? How are you adapting? How are you a better leader?
5) The potential for innovation is staggering.
Innovation is fun, and now more than ever, the sky is the limit. How we do ministry will look very different in the next five to ten years. I don’t have the answers, but together we will. I’m pumped to be in the game and part of the solution to reach people in this new era.
The goal is not to change for the sake of change, or merely making something different. Making ministry better is the goal.
At 12Stone Church we’re working on cool innovations in several ministries. Not just adding stuff, but going for the best-streamlined approach in a zero-margin society to make an eternal impact in people’s lives.
What are you and the leaders at your church working on? You don’t need to change everything. In fact, you shouldn’t. But there are likely one to three things you could be improving in a big way right now.
6) The eternal nature of life change continues to inspire me.
The spiritual battle is real, and eternity is at stake. I don’t mean to be dramatic; I’m just saying it the way it is. We don’t have to get weird about it, but as for me, I sure don’t want to lose sight of it.
Here’s my practical approach to such a grand idea.
I can’t focus on the negative, and if I do, I get stuck as a leader. I’d go into a defensive mode, and I need to remain on the offense to make progress.
To stay the course, I focus on the positive. People are still saying yes to Jesus! Lives are changing. Marriages are being restored, and addictions broken. People are being healed, and families reunited. I’m in!
I choose to put my energies into the next person who will live a better life here on earth and forever with Jesus.
7) God has been unwaveringly kind, and my calling remains clear.
In talking with thousands of leaders, I’m very aware that your call to ministry is very personal and that sometimes it’s not clear. That said, I also know that deciding in downtime is not the best move.
God has been kind to me, and my calling, even the specifics have always been clear. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to wrestle some to gain that clarity each time a change was made.
God may be talking to you about a change. Listen to Him carefully and don’t rush it. Give God all the room He wants to make your calling clear.