I was listening to a teaching on ministry leadership by Pastor Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Woodstock, GA not too long ago and he talked about different times in ministry leadership. Programs, events, outreach emphases, etc. don’t just happen by themselves. Successful ministry is born out of discipline and intentionality. The same is true in a workplace and even the home. Below are those important seasons which lead to success, much borrowed from Pastor Johnny and a little bit from me (got to give credit where credit is due!)
Before anything significant can be done for the glory of God you have to spend ample time in prayer and planning. When do you take time to just pray and think in your schedule? This starts with your daily time with the Lord every morning, but it extends to quiet times in your weekly and monthly schedule to just think. Keep in mind, it’s better to do one thing well than a bunch of things halfway. Nothing of eternal impact is born apart from prayer and planning. You can try to work without praying, but there is no effective work without praying; and prayer is where we get the plan not where we ask God to bless our plan. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” So, from the very beginning commit the work to the Lord. Walk through the 5 W’s and the H: who, what, when, where, why, and how? If the why and the how are unclear then the results will be also.
Anybody can come up with a good plan, but it takes a sharp leader to make it reality. Grind time is the work it takes getting it all together. It’s the phone calls, the emails, the coffee meetings, the lunches, the budget conversations, the technological conversations, and so on and so forth that bring in the right people and set aside the right resources to make it happen. Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” What’s it going to take to make God’s dream a reality? What important people need to own this with you? What resources are needed for this to be done well? Now, go get em’ Tiger! Nothing of any value was ever accomplished without hard work and a strong team, and the Lord’s Kingdom work is certainly worthy of even more intense effort than the world’s work!
We say at Living Hope that every Sunday is Prime Time. That’s the time when we will have the largest number of our people all together for one purpose. So, Sunday has to be done extremely well, and well done means Christ-centered, life-altering, God glorifying worship and Bible study. We want everyone from babies to senior adults to leave here on Sundays sensing they have met with the God of all creation and have a genuine relationship with other believers at Living Hope. Prime Time is that time when the given ministry effort takes place. All that you’ve planned and worked for is now ready to be implemented. Champions show up on game day, and anointed ministers of God come prepared and ready when it’s game time. The same is true for disciples of Christ. It’s one thing to talk about being a witness for Christ, it’s another thing to show up and serve, give, and share the gospel when the opportunity arises. James called it being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. We only have so many opportunities in this life to make disciples of others. Don’t miss those opportunities.
Evaluation is so important. After the ministry event, effort, or emphasis is over make sure to take some time to evaluate. Celebrate first, then evaluate, and do it within a month or so after it ends so that it is still fresh on your mind. Open and honest evaluation is so necessary to the continued growth of the ministry and the people in it. What went wrong? What went well? What do we sustain? What do we need to change? What about the event, effort, or emphasis as a whole? Does it work or do we need to do something else? All these are vital questions to ask and answer honestly. The same is true in a business, in marriage, and even in parenting. Stop and evaluate. The best evaluation is done on a healthy team where people don’t mind their teammates critiquing what they do.
Everybody needs to unwind. You need time to just get away, unplug, and refresh. One of the things we say in our house is “work first then play.” My children love this (haha)! When you do your work well your play is much more relaxing. If you’re not doing your job well, or if you’re doing ministry halfway then you will be unsettled in your off time. Some ask how many vacation days should I give my staff? My answer is as many as they need….as long as they are doing a good job. If they are really putting their heart and soul into ministry then let them have an extra day every now and again just to unplug. The keys are do your job well and be present when the people are present. At Living Hope we follow the rhythms of our people, so when people are naturally on break that’s when we go on break. When the people are in their normal routine then we get after it in ministry. Just remember, when you’ve put in the mind time, grind time, prime time, and rewind time, your unwind time will be much sweeter, so do your job well.
I hope this helps you like it helped me. Thank you again to Pastor Johnny Hunt for most of these ideas. Remember time is the stuff of life, so don’t waste it.