Post by Allison Williams
About three years ago, I was prepping for youth group. It had been an insane week. Two days before I spent time on job websites because my ministry was simply not sustainable. Quitting a ministry is way different than quitting a normal job. Leaving a ministry is more like a divorce. People in the church feel abandoned and all of sudden you may discover that close friends were, in reality, conditional friends. I had felt this level of overwhelmed before but I took solace in the fact that I had nothing left to give and therefore nothing to lose in leaving.
I came back to the office after lunch with zero pep in my step. Youth group was not something I had the privilege of running that night, it was something that just had to be done. I was like a prisoner walking the green mile (sounds bleak, but you’re a rookie if you’ve never had that feeling at least once before a youth group). I was walking in the fellowship hall when my body freaked out. The next few weeks were a blur of ambulances, needles, scans, and near death experiences.
I was laid up and out of my office for the next few months. In a split second I went from having the weight of the world on my shoulders to not having any idea what the names of my volunteers were, much less where they served or what giftings they had. My ministry was out of my hands completely in the blink of an eye. I could tell you a million things that this experience taught me, but here’s what it taught me about delegation:
Your way might be the best way… but who cares? I once refilled the dishwasher in front of a group of seniors that had just cleaned up the dinner dishes at my house. I didn’t say anything mean or critical, just started re-loading the dishes for maximum efficiency. A seventeen year old guy looked at me and said, “If how we do it isn’t good enough, why do you ask us to help?” Ouch! I bet some of my volunteers used to feel that same way. They weren’t partners in ministry, they were micromanaged robots. In my medical turmoil, when I didn’t have the capacity to walk from one room in my house to the other without help, my volunteers did not miss a beat in our ministry. Was it the way I would have done it? Oh dear goodness no! Did God use willing hearts? YES! I’ve discovered that I’m the one who is missing out when I don’t listen to the people that care about my students and give them ownership in the ministry.
Every ministry needs a “What if I get hit by a bus” plan — A major medical catastrophe wasn’t on my agenda that day. If something bad happened in your life, would someone else be able to come into your office and pick up your ministry plans without missing a beat? Sometimes we are territorial around our structure. Are you scared of your calendar being criticized? Guarded about your plans because you’re a ‘week to week’ minister and do not want people to find out? Put down your insecurities and let a couple people in. Someone needs to know how to log into your computer and what hard drive you store your lessons on. If you went down today, would they still be on track for services this week?
Failure is awesome — When a person is invested and allowed ownership in a ministry, sometimes they will fall flat on their face. Before this medical event, I was petrified of failing. Second place is just first loser, right? No way! Failing means you’re experimenting and trying something new. Failures are teachable moments for myself and those around me. Failing means I’m letting people try things. I bet for everything that we do that tanks, five or six other things that we tried work.
We’re not promised tomorrow, friends. Your students already have a Savior, what they need is for you to be a leader of leaders that are invested in their spiritual development.