One of the biggest mistakes I have made through the years in ministry is ‘doing’ ministry rather than equipping others to do ministry. I would often tell myself, “I’m the only one who can do this”, or “If I want it done right, I have to be in the middle of it.” One of the biggest traps was feeling that “This is what is expected of me in this position.” I’ve talked to many other ministers who have fallen into the same traps. It seems as though we have a martyr complex or an extreme need to feel needed. This drives us to ‘do’ more than we should and ‘equip’ others less. We rationalize that everything I am doing are good things. And the truth is they probably are good things. But your good things may be someone elses ‘God’ things. By not letting go we overwork ourselves and rob someone else of what they were made to do. On the bright side, this leads to a type of job security when we make ourselves indispensable. But this is a short term approach to ministry because we can’t keep up this pace. This is why out of every 10 who start out in ministry, only 1 will actually retire in ministry.
So I have decided that, as best I can, I am going to do ministry as scripture outlines in Ephesians 4:11-16. Verses 11 and 12 are worth spending some time exploring, because these verses help those who are pastors and teachers understand their purpose. I am going to work hard at replacing myself in ministry so that I can continue to build others up and help them become who God made them to be. I am going to ‘do’ less and ‘equip’ more. This doesn’t mean that I am taking the easy way out. It is actually harder at times to let go and equip than it is to just ‘do it yourself’. But I am not looking for a short term solution. I desire to build and invest in His kingdom and see results that will outlive me.
I have kept a portion of a page copied out of a study bible posted in a visible place on my desk to remind me of what it is I am supposed to be doing. Below is what I copied. (I would site the source, but I am not sure which bible it came from.)
Equipping is a tough job, much harder than shepherding. The leader is to equip others for ministry. Paul explains the goal for the shepherd (Ephesians 4:12) and the goal of the sheep (4:13), he then describes the result (4:14-16). If leaders wish to equip their people they must give them certain gifts:
- I must CARE for them (Communication, Affirmation, Recognition, and Example).
- I must work on their weaknesses, but work out their strengths.
- I must give them myself (time, energy, and focus).
- I must give them ownership of the ministry.
- I must become a resource person (atmosphere, training, support, tools).
- I must make expectations clear.
- I must eliminate unnecessary burdens.
- I must catch them doing something good, then reward them.
- Organizing your Volunteers (insideministry.wordpress.com)