One of my responsibilities, as Next Gen Pastor at my church, is to lead our staff devotional time once every 4 months or so at our monthly all-staff chapels. So today was one of those staff chapels… and it was my turn to lead. I was digging around for what to talk about, because leading other staff members in this way is very different than speaking to either the adults of the church or to the teenagers. So I figured, with the fall launch of a lot of our ministry programs about a month away… this would be the perfect time to talk about preparing ourselves as leaders for that busy season right around the corner.
A lot of what I taught actually came straight out of my journal… so I was literally going through this preparation myself, first. So I am going to write down all of what I covered today in a 3 part blog series entitled “Prepare to Launch.” My hope and prayer is that someone out there would be able to use this to help prepare themselves also for the upcoming ministry season.
In this first post, I want to highlight…
1. Adopting the RIGHT ATTITUDE.
Attitude is HUGE in ministry. If I, as a pastor, don’t have the RIGHT attitude walking into a new year… I am already setting myself up for failure. In my journal I wrote down 5 areas where I needed to start adopting the right attitude for myself:
- A Heart of a Servant – Matthew 20: 25-28
Jesus’ disciples are fighting over who is the greatest disciple. We might think that is a ridiculous thing to bicker over… but to them, this was a big deal. In their culture, position was EVERYTHING. But Jesus calls them all together and says… “NOT SO WITH YOU. If you want to be GREAT… learn to SERVE.” [my paraphrase of course] Jesus set the tone from the beginning that his kingdom was going to be an upside down kingdom where the last will be first and the first will be last and the great will be those who serve. This is the heart that the ministry leader must have. Christ is the head of the church and our perfect example of how we should live and lead… and he came, not to be served, but to serve.
- Humility – Philippians 2:1-8
I’m never going to have the heart of a servant unless I learn to be humble. Humility is this: “Having a CORRECT view of who I am in light of who God is and who others are around me.” Humility is not having a LOW view of yourself… or even having a lofty view of others. It is simply having the RIGHT view. When I see God for who HE REALLY IS… and when I see myself for who I really am… and when I see others for who THEY REALLY ARE… it gives me the right perspective to be able to love and serve others better. Jesus showed us that a humble heart leads to a serving heart.
- Honor God First – Genesis 41:15-16; John 3:30
Joseph, from the Old Testament, had quite a life. As he stood in front of Pharaoh towards the end part of his story… he was asked a question… “Can you interpret these dreams I have had.” Joseph had come a long way. He was the boy with the coat who was loved by his dad but hated by his brothers. He was the boy who had 2 dreams that God gave him as well. He was sold, bought, betrayed, imprisoned, and then he met these two guys who also had dreams, who just so happened to work for the pharaoh. So he interpreted their dreams and said “don’t forget me.” He forgot him. Then Pharaoh had dreams… Enter Joseph. Pharaoh says to him, “your reputation says you can figure this out… can you?” In this moment Joseph has a decision to make. He can look back over his life, see all that he has done and accomplished, remember that he is awesome at this dream stuff… and take full credit for it. OR… he can tell Pharaoh the truth. He chooses the latter. He says “I can’t… but God can.”
John the Baptist famously [and rightly, might I add] said this about Jesus, “He must increase… and I must decrease.”
These are huge statements that we, as ministry leaders, need to remember: “I can’t, but God can.” and “He must increase, I must decrease.” When we put God in his rightful place [out of humility]… we begin to see that it is God who is at work in us and through us. Warren Wiersbe writes in his book, “On Being a Servant of God” that we are merely channels of God’s mighty resources… opening a way for them to be distributed to others. When we view ourselves that way, we see that it is God who is awesome… and we are just the means to allow God to work through us to show others HIS AWESOMENESS.
- Continually Be In Prayer – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:6-7
If you are anything like me, then you struggle in your prayer life. [just being honest] I can’t tell you how many prayer journals I have started but not finished. Or prayer plans that I “PLANNED” on executing… but eventually neglected. I tell myself excuses like “I get too busy to stop and pray” or the classic “Well… God knows my heart and mind already… so it’s like I’m praying, right?” No… no it’s not. I’ll just be my own counselor for a second. One of the things that I KNOW I need to get better at is praying for those whom I lead (staff and volunteer) and those whom I minister to (students and adults). Plans are great… but prayer is better. I know I need to work on praying continually.
- Lead Expectantly – Philippians 4:12-13 & 19
The Apostle Paul, sitting in house arrest, begins to pen down the words of a letter that he is writing to a church that he absolutely fell in love with on one of his missions trips. It was not an easy church… in fact, maybe the reality of being in prison caused him to remember this church… because when he visited there, he was also thrown in prison with his friend Silas. But he loved this church. This church was humble. This church understood the Gospel deeply. This church was sacrificially generous toward him. So he writes at the end of this letter the secret he has found in being content in his life: That He can face any obstacle that life throws his way because of the strength that Christ gives him. So he is confident in Christ. He is also confident that God is up to something big with this church… and that God will supply their needs because of their generosity.
When we lead… we must do so with expectancy. We must lead by saying and believing that GOD is going to show up big! Why? Because we have already discussed “We can’t do it, but God can!” We need to have a holy expectation that God is going to show up in HUGE ways in our churches this year!
Adopting the RIGHT ATTITUDE is the first step in preparing to launch a new ministry season. Tomorrow we will look at how to Plan with Purpose.