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Month: January 2012

2 steps to respect

From time to time I hear from associates about how their ministry is not respected by their congregation, their organization, or someone on the staff. As a youth pastor I had a janitor try to ban the youth from using the sanctuary because they sometimes made a mess. Others I know felt that their lead pastor or their supervising board did not respect what they did – asking for time sheets, wanting office hours posted, or scheduling other things in conflict with their ministry events.

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Was that a compliment?

I have learned over the years, not to get too excited by every compliment I receive. There was a time I believed each one was about me and my greatness. Then something strange happened that had me looking at both my compliments and critiques differently.

I regularly preach in the congregations I serve, sometimes as the primary speaker at an alternative worship service, other times to fill-in when the lead pastor is away, and other times as part of the regular rotation. At one church, I would receive compliments after I preached about the way I told stories in my sermons. I heard how I connected with people where they were, and made the gospel easily applicable. I was beginning to think I might be the next Billy Graham. Then, suddenly, the compliments started to change. I started to hear from other people about how good I was at preaching the Bible – sticking to and expounding upon the text. No more would I be Billy Graham, but now I might be the next N. T. Wright. What changed?

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I walk the line

Being an associate is like walking a tightrope. Well, I’ve never actually walked a tightrope. I’m afraid of heights. So I guess I’m saying that being an associate is like what I imagine it would be like to walk a tightrope. Or maybe it is more like a Johnny Cash song. Either way you have to walk the line.

The line we associates walk is the fine one between overstepping and paralysis, between competing with the lead pastor and waiting for her/his blessing before doing anything, between being a help and being a burden, between owning your ministry and disregarding the rest of the ministry of the congregation. Lean too far either way and you are headed for a crash.

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The caulk ministry model

Caulk is the gooey stuff used around windows and sinks that fills the gaps. It stops water from seeping into cracks, getting behind your tub, and doing damage that would be costly to repair. Caulk is also used to seal window and door frames to keep the cold air out in the winter and the cool air in during the summer, making those in the home more comfortable. Caulk is wonderfully useful around the house, but it is a terrible ministry model.

Associates are often tempted to do “caulk ministry,” filling the gaps, or making sure nothing falls through the cracks in the ministries they serve. I found myself doing some caulking recently.