Ever identify with that infamous circus act of spinning plates? If you’re a ministry leader I’m sure you can relate to this visual. If there is a Guinness record for ministry plate spinning, I may have been in the running for holding the record. Ever notice how Sundays come around at warp speed for a ministry leader no matter what the size of the ministry? Sometime you can’t help focusing on keeping the plates spinning so ministry happens.
We all feel the weight of leading at times (virtual group hug here). But if you keep up that crazy pace, you can lose site that your leadership gift is borrowed from God. You know what’ I’m talking about. You know the story. A simple part time commitment unfolds slowly to full time hours to make ministry happen. Yikes! Ministry is not a nine to five job. If you’re pretty good at plate spinning, consider two things you can choose to do to: (1) order yourself a superhero cape or (2) get into the zone where your strengths are. I believe everyone has a God-given strength zone. Take a moment and think through where your personal strengths are. It shouldn’t take long. Just ask other people around you. They see it in you every day. Are you great at listening? Casting vision? Organizing? A great pastor once said, “For every strength you possess as a leader, you’re probably weak in two other much needed areas to lead well.” Building others around you who are using their God given gifts helps keep both you and those you are teamed with energized and focused on going forward in ministry. We all need each other. Simply put, you were not designed to do it all!
So what if you leaned in and began to purpose to use your known strengths as you do ministry? (Plate spinners beware!) What happens? You start asking and enlisting others to the serve. You give leadership away for a stronger team. Others bring gifts you couldn’t possibly offer. You share the joy of leading. When everyone gets in their “zones” it makes room for ministry to happen.
There will always be times in ministry with more demands than others. It is the life of a ministry leader. The plate spinning can sneak up on you. The outlook for those demands of ministry changes when we remember to enlist others to use their “zone” of gifts and strengths. Stepping out of your strength zone for any length of time is that you can lose vision and, more importantly, joy (which is your strength according to Nehemiah) when you take on too much.
Strength zones are God’s idea! Ephesians tells us how as the Body of Christ, every part is important. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. The end of that sentence is very important. It’s when each part does its work. (Eph 4:11) One of my all time favorite leadership books is Seven Practices (Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Lane Jones https://tinyurl.com/q4jvlnq). It describes how a baseball team is quite like leading a team & ministry. Coaches develop and grow players in their position and strength zone. Pitchers pitch. Catchers catch. They get better at what they do as they practice their strength. It’s a vivid illustration of how to focus everyone’s God-given strengths and talents. It also helps us to know, as leaders, we need to continue to develop the gifts and strengths we have to be our best. We get better in our zone if we practice! Stay a learner of all things in your gift. Connect with people who have your same strengths to talk through what this strength gives opportunity for. When we acknowledge needing help and enlist others to help with our weaker side, it helps to make authentic servant ministry happen. Suddenly you can’t wait for a Sunday to come around again.
Think about making a move to lead from your strength zone. Where can you begin to get better at what you do using your strengths? Where can you give away ministry where you are weak, and allow others gifts to shine? Get in the zone, and watch the view of the spinning plates change.
For more about leading yourself well, read:
Exhausted. Frustrated. Discouraged. Burned out.
The Easiest Way To Be Disappointed In Yourself And Your Ministry
Three Tips for Staying Energized in Ministry
Book Recommendation: Do More Great Work