The Most Important Ministry Lesson
In this post I want to share the most important lesson I have lever earned in ministry. I first became a leader in ministry when I started a small group at 15 years old. Two years later as a High School Senior I was speaking in high schools and on retreat. My freshmen year at LSU I started a student ministry and eventually was on a team that united all of the campus ministries together for an annual outreach event.
After graduating from college I went on to work on our youth staff where I had the opportunity to see thousands of young people come to Christ and be discipled. Now at ARC I have the pleasure of working with pastors to start new church across the country.
Although I learned a lot in the past 20 years, my most important lesson in ministry did not come while in any of these ministry roles. It wasn’t until I spent a season working outside of full-time vocational ministry before coming to ARC that I learned my most important ministry lesson.
No Time for Interruptions
While on staff in youth ministry we had an internship that eventually grew to over 100 students in the program each year. Many times after their classes some of these students would come up and hang out in our office space. As a task oriented person, this began to be bother me a little as it kept me from finishing my work. I loved those students, but also felt compelled to give my best to the projects I was working on that I knew would help our ministry reach more people. The students lounging in my office and asking me personal questions took time away from these important items. The result? After their classes I would shut the door to my office so that I would not be interrupted. Cold hearted I know!
Years later I would find myself at a different church and no longer working in ministry. Amy and I decided to take a course called L.I.F.E. for Marriage. The class teacher was old enough to be my grandfather and began the class right on time by closing the door and making a bold announcement.
“If you are late to this class, do not come through that door…”
I braced for impact as a I knew he was about to rail on us about the importance of being on time.
He continued, “Make sure you come through the door on the other side so that you can get some coffee before taking a seat. And remember that if you are late, you are not an interruption. I have learned that if you see people as interruptions, then soon you won’t have any interruptions, because you won’t have any people left to interrupt you!”
Boom! That was not what I was expecting. I began to tear up. A little because I was caught off guard by this unsuspected grace that was being extended, but also because of the healing power that comes with being valued.
I bet you can guess this, but I was never once late to this class. In fact, I don’t know that I have ever shown up early so consistently to something before in my life.
Learning My Lesson
When I look back on my ministry life my greatest regret is not something I didn’t do or an opportunity I was overlooked for. I regret not valuing people the way I was valued that day.
This lead me to realize that the biggest lesson that I needed to learn in ministry is that people are the priority.
Roy Stockstill said that his greatest lesson in ministry was that “people are not the enemy.” I love that and it was the beginning of what God would eventually show me is my ministry goal, “Make people the priority while pointing them to Jesus.”
In the Masterpiece, The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People, Leman and Pentak waste no time in telling leaders that “Your people are your greatest asset.” When we treat people this way we are modeling Jesus who, as demonstrated us in Philippians 2, left the comforts of heaven to comfort us. He valued us, and made us the priority.
People are not the enemy. People are not interruptions. People are our greatest competitive advantage. My goal is to make people the priority while pointing them to Jesus.
What is your greatest lesson from life or ministry? I’d love to hear about it! Add a comment of send me a message.