The article is a part of the Pain Points series.
“Stop doing everything!”
These words pierced my heart during my first year of ministry and immediately exposed so many pain points that I had to navigate through that season of life. As a young minister right out of seminary, I wanted to do as much as possible for God’s glory. I may have had a good motivation, but I definitely had the wrong method. In my pursuit of wanting to serve God with every fiber of my being, I erroneously thought I had to pile more and more on my plate. I tried to do everything I possibly could in my first ministry. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to feel exhaustion and burnout. Without healthy boundaries, I was becoming a workaholic.
Have you ever felt that pain point? Have you ever wrestled with doing everything on your own?
Being a workaholic may not be your reason for striving to do all the ministry. I’ve spoken with other pastors who have openly admitted that their motivation for hoarding all the ministry responsibility stemmed from pride. Others mentioned it provided them a sense of job security. There are several reasons for why leaders choose to do everything on their own.
I finally recognized that I needed help. So I reached out to other pastors and seminary professors for wisdom and insight. I praise the Lord for the godly men who spoke truth into my life. A consistent theme emerged from my conversations with these men—I had to stop doing everything. My desire to be effective in ministry was going to require me to make some strategic shifts in my understanding of my role as a pastor.
SHIFT #1: EQUIP THE SAINTS
During my season of ministry in Miami, I was the campus pastor of a portable church campus that met at Florida International University. Each Sunday, I would meet with a few of my college students at a warehouse in Palmetto Bay to load all of our gear into a box truck. Then I would drive the truck across the city to the campus of FIU where we would set up to have our worship services in a school auditorium. Every once in a while, someone from our crew would forget to load something that we needed to complete setting up our stage and sound system. At that moment when we found out what was missing and who was responsible for the blunder, the rest of our setup team would look at that student and in unison say the famous line, “Man, you had one job!” That phrase gets used a lot in our culture. There are so many comical memes online that display funny scenarios utilizing the phrase “You had one job” as the punchline. As funny as that phrase can be, it rings true for us who are in ministry leadership positions.
Leaders, we ultimately have one job; we are called by God to equip the saints for the work of ministry.
In Ephesians 4:11–13, the Apostle Paul reveals the primary job description for the leaders in the church:
“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” (CSB)Leaders, we ultimately have one job; we are called by God to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Click To Tweet
In God’s Kingdom, the success of our leadership is not going to be gauged by all the skills and knowledge we acquire; it is ultimately going to be measured by how many people we develop. Don’t miss this simple truth: The effectiveness of a ministry leader is not measured by all the things that only he can do, but rather by all the people he has equipped to do the things that he does.In God’s Kingdom, the success of our leadership is not going to be gauged by all the skills and knowledge we acquire; it is ultimately going to be measured by how many people we develop. Click To Tweet
God wants leaders to activate the spiritual gifts in church members by equipping them to do ministry.
SHIFT #2: EMBRACE THE LEADERSHIP PARADOX
A paradox is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality, expresses a possible truth. My years in ministry have led me to accept the following leadership paradox: The most effective leaders are both indispensable and replaceable.
You might be thinking, “That makes no sense. How can you be indispensable and replaceable?” Allow me to elaborate on this paradox a little more. A leader is most valuable to the church when he develops people who can partner with him in ministry. Leaders who can replace themselves by developing and deploying people to do the work of ministry truly become indispensable to the church. So in essence, you are most valuable when you are able to multiply your influence by developing people to engage in ministry.
Some pastors and ministry leaders don’t want to give ministry away because they are afraid the church will think they don’t need them anymore. I believe the opposite to be true. I think the best form of job security is constantly trying to work yourself out of a job.Some pastors and ministry leaders don’t want to give ministry away because they are afraid the church will think they don’t need them anymore. Click To Tweet
SHIFT #3: DEVELOP MORE LEADERS
As you equip the saints for the work of ministry, you should also identify and develop future leaders.
Your responsibility as a leader is to make more leaders. Eric Geiger writes, “The fruit of an effective leader is not merely followers but other leaders. Leaders are responsible for future leadership.” Leaders who faithfully develop other leaders have the potential to leave a lasting legacy
Effective leaders stop doing everything and start equipping others to live out their calling from God to make disciples of all nations.