Leading in ministry can be difficult. I remember when I was new on staff at a large church. The number of people I was directly managing had doubled. The systems in place were chaotic and needed streamlining. I stood in my office one day thinking to myself, what am I doing? I was overwhelmed and felt isolated.
Failure was not an option at that moment. As someone who has served in ministry for more than twenty years, I can tell you it doesn’t get easier … unless you do something to make it better for yourself.
It was at that moment that I realized I needed to ask someone for help. I have learned many lessons since that day. The following tips are meant to help whether you are a man in ministry or leading men in ministry. I hope to encourage you if you are struggling with your leadership or your personal journey in life.
Networking and Accountability
Everyone needs accountability. I have generally only been held accountable for meeting organizational goals at my workplace. I have rarely gotten accountability for what is going on in my life outside of work. At work, with professional goals, I realized that my boss hired me to be the expert. Therefore, I needed to lead myself and find tools for ministry that would equip me to lead effectively.
That led to two different things for me to think about: networking and accountability.
The best option for me at the time was to find someone who was one or two steps ahead of me in ministry. I encourage you to seek out one or two people to share your professional and personal ministry goals and challenges with. I have had seasons where one person, or multiple people, have helped me do this.
In my years of ministry, there are some giants of faith and ministry I have had the benefit to learn and grow from. I chose to lean into them and ask for help so I could bounce decisions off them because they served in a different context and had a different perspective than mine.
Some of my best ministry decisions came because I was able to learn from a podcast or workshop. Regularly investing in my growth as a leader has had a significant impact on my ministry.
Something else I learned was that I also needed to be willing to do the same for others in ministry who were a step behind me. We aren’t in competition. We are all here for one goal: leading people into a life changing relationship.
A Safe Place
I have loved that every time I’ve found people to learn from, or who I have been willing to invest in, that it has felt like a safe place. None of my bad ideas were made fun of. Some of those ministry colleagues eventually became friends. Sometimes help is closer than you think. Consider finding someone in your congregation who is a specialist in an area of expertise you can benefit from. See if they might be willing to invest in developing you or leading alongside you.
Here are some practical ideas for encouraging men, regardless of if they are paid ministry staff or volunteer in your ministry:
- Start by listening. Take time to meet for coffee or a meal and then ask leading questions to help them open up and identify where they might want to grow.
- Introduce them to a small group of other men in ministry. Be willing to provide space and time for them to network. It won’t only benefit them—it will benefit your church and God’s Kingdom.
I am a strong believer that life change happens through relationships. When we help people connect in relationship, they will build trust over time and share their deepest struggles.
Making a Difference
Something I have come to appreciate is that we all want to matter and make a difference. When inviting men into your volunteer program, be willing to make a big ask, provide vision, and be committed to empowering leaders to own their roles.
I remember a supervisor reminding me that, as a paid ministry staff member, my job was to raise up the body of Christ to do the work of Christ. This stuck with me as I sat in a restaurant and challenged two volunteers to come along for the journey with me to raise up our NextGen ministry. I boldly asked them to link arms with me, make a commitment for three years, and see life change in children and adults if we dared to do this.
I provided training, encouragement, and resources. But mostly I empowered them to lead boldly … and they did. Their own life change and journey led to them empower the next generation of Jesus followers to step into ministry alongside them.
What Can Help
As a man in ministry, these are practical ideas that have helped me:
- Be bold!
- Be willing to make a phone call and ask for advice or help from someone else in ministry.
- Respond to emails and texts from others so you are able to learn from them and help them if need be.
I always meet with potential leaders who want to serve in ministry so that I can ask some key questions that I have learned over time. The first questions I ask are:
- What do you do for work?
- If you could do anything, what would you want to do? This question, while basic, can reveal what someone’s passions are and where opportunities for growth and investment are in their own leadership.
It has been a personal goal of mine to provide resources around personal leadership. There are so many great tools out there that can help challenge men in ministry to grow. These include, but aren’t limited to, books and podcasts.
Be encouraged if you feel like you are on an island right now. Be willing to make that call—ask someone for help.