Give Everything Away
My parents raised me to be an adult. Yet I know parents who raise their children to be, well, children. For some reason they create dependence in their child that does not allow their children to mature. Consequently, we have an entire sub-culture of thirty-somethings living with their parents permanently, without good reason. Parents have to give the important things – their knowledge, understanding, and experiences – away to their kids. Sure, if they withhold these blessings their children will keep coming back for more, but this isn’t healthy. Parents eventually die. What happens then? Parents who give the important things to children find that their children come back even more. Why? Not because of what their parents have to give, but because they value who their parents are. When parents give the important things away, both parents and children benefit.
The same is true in ministry. We have to take the risk that eventually, if we do our job right, people won’t depend on us. We don’t simply give people strategies; we teach them how to strategize. We don’t tell people what to do; we teach them how to think and do for themselves. We don’t teach people about the Bible; we teach them to read and obey the Bible. We give away everything we know, without strings, all the time. We create mature believers, not dependant children. If we do, people eventually value who we are rather than what we have to give them.
Lead from Behind
In a show I saw the other night, the main character, a Marine, stated, “A true Marine doesn’t need medals pinned to their uniform. They wear them in their heart.” If we want to change to way we minister in the West, we are going to have to feel this way about ourselves. We lead from behind the scenes and allow others to be in the forefront. They get the “medals” and we get satisfaction in their medals. They are asked to speak, and we get excited for them. Everyone knows their face, but we have to be introduced. We have to be completely ok with the reality that most people will never know who we are or understand what we do.
Value Influence over Position
Another friend told me, “Paul, I don’t have authority over anyone. No one reports to me. I really can’t get anyone ‘fired.’ No one has to listen to me if they don’t want to.” Yet church planters around the world come to my friend and say, “My company may employ me, but you are my boss. I will do whatever you tell me to do.” Thousands of church planters around the world do what my friend says, but they don’t have to. “I gave up my position a long time ago,” my friend adds, “Now all I have is influence.”
If we want to change things, we are going to have to value influence over position. But we can make a living from position while influence rarely pays the bills. Most of the people we influence will never be able to pay us. We have to be ok with that and find out a way to make a living without sacrificing influence. I think mission agencies and churches need to employ people with influence, understanding that their influence will make their employer more successful in the long run.
Value People over Tasks
We have to value people for the way they think and what they can do rather than for the tasks we want them to complete...We have to create an atmosphere in our churches, missions, and ministries that values people for the way they think and what they can do rather than for the tasks we want them to complete. If we do, things will change.
In the West, for the most part, the church is anemic. People depend on ministers rather than upon God. Church staffers resist good change because it might make their positions obsolete. They have to create dependence so they can survive. Good people have to hide their ideas because it threatens the status quo. This cannot continue. We have to do things differently. Churches and ministries must make difficult choices and change their values.
May we all take these principles to heart and implement them into our lives and ministries.