Do What You Want Your People To Do

Pastors (and others in ministry) seem to work too much or too little. We want to get it just right and often fail. And ministry is an interesting gig in that you may not get followed up with to be sure you are doing (too much or too little of) your job.

But one thing should be true within all in ministry: that we want to reproduce ourselves–to live lives that are, for lack of a better word, mimic-able. Lives that other people look at and say, “Oh, that’s how you do it.”

This video, taking the specific issue of evangelism, highlights that point:

How Does a Pastor Make Time for Evangelism? from Desiring God on Vimeo.

It made me come to this simple point: do what you want your people to do.

I get this wrong a lot. But here are some principles that I try to live by (“try” being the operative word) to make the ministry that I do reproducible for people in the congregation:

  • Don’t Skimp On Time: I know ministry schedules are flexible, and they should be, but I try to think through the time I give through the lens of the people I serve (working professionals and families). If I have to be out in the evening (see point 2), I consider the other people who will attend that meeting with me. Did they have to work a full day? Did they have a lunch meeting, too? Did they have to figure out how to get the kids to and from school? Then I might need to as well. I don’t just want to say, without good reason, “Well, I have a night meeting so I’m going to start my day later.” You’d be surprised that you might be leading your congregation to be a little frustrated with you. Why? Because that lifestyle isn’t reproducible. 
  • Limit Nights: This doesn’t work for all types of ministry. I get that. Youth ministry is a night and weekend gig. College ministry is much of the same. But if I want people to be able to (1) care for their families and (2) care for the lost (that may not be in order of priority), then they need to be free to do so. Thus, for my sake and theirs, I have very few obligated nights (meaning: I have the same obligation every week). And I try and obligate the congregation to very few things at night. Who wants to do churchy things anyways?
  • Be In a Group: As I’ve said before, our church has a group structure. We want everyone in a small group–a place where they can make disciples and grow in Christ. And we also want our groups to multiply (to create other groups and leaders). Thus, on Sunday evenings, there’s a house not far from ours where you can usually find us. There are also a lot of kids who are usually wreaking havoc. The point here is participate in your own ministry. Or, the opposite of what Biggie Smalls might say, “Get high on your own supply.”
  • Lead First: I think people make this mistake: pastors just watch other people do ministry. Yes, we are to train, but we are to be in the game. We don’t just talk about people doing ministry, we do it, model it, and live it. So I want to really be sure that I would never ask anyone at my church to do something that I wouldn’t do. Jesus did that for us. I can’t be Jesus, but I want to be like Him.
  • Love Non-Christians: This is truly hard for many Christians and especially pastors. That’s why I like the above video. It reminds me to spend time with those who don’t know Jesus. Another reason point 2 is so important.
  • Be Gracious: These are principles. And I fail. I make them laws. I don’t make exceptions. Blah, blah, blah. Hold everything with a  loose fist. Some weeks I’m out four or five nights. Others, none. Then the next, it is three. This week, I was out of the house by 5:50am three times in four days. Next week you better not come near me before 9:00am.  You have to be flexible and gracious.

I wish I were more like Christ in all of these. And I pray I do my church a good service as long as I pastor there.

I'd love to hear your thoughts