There's never enough, is there?
Pick a commodity you need to do your job (or shall we sugar coat it as "perform your ministry"?). No matter what it is - other than God's grace, the Word's sufficiency or the Spirit's power - chances are that you'd agree that there's not enough.
That's certainly true of our personal resources.
- Pastors never have enough time to do all that needs doing.
- Pastors never have enough talent to do all things well.
- Who would say they're always driven by vision and passion?
- All of us have longed for more energy and endurance!
- None of us has enough foresight to see very far ahead.
- We never have enough wisdom to fully understand what's happening now.
It's also true of ministry resources.
- It seems like we never have enough volunteers.
- Who among us has an adequate pool of talented leaders?
- Congregations always want for passion for the mission!
- Have you ever said, "We've got more than we need in the budget"?
And I'd add one last item we often overlook: sometimes we don't have sufficient reason for accepting a task, fulfilling a request or submitting to a demand.
It's never been any different
- Escaping Israelites didn't have enough boats to escape the clamoring Egyptian hordes.
- Moses didn't have enough time or energy to listen to everyone who petitioned him for redress.
- Gideon didn't have enough infantry to vanquish the barbarians.
- David didn't have enough armor to fend off the giant's attack.
- The disciples didn't have enough snacks to feed the crowds.
Even Paul lamented his own inadequacy in view of the enormity of the Gospel ministry, dispensing the evangel upon which rode both life and death - literally! "Who is sufficient for these things (2 Corinthians 2:16)?"
Which brings the question of resources clearly into focus.
This is God's business.
If we ever imagine we have enough to do the job, we're doing the wrong job. We're doing a job that's not worth doing.
Lean into your lack of resources. Paul did!
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4â€“6).
What's the solution?
If the problem is a lack of personal or ministry resources, the solution is simple.
Wait to see if God provides.
If he does, great. Do it.
If not, don't. Just say no.
Lack of sufficient reasons for fulfilling a request or submitting to a demand calls for a different solution.
This lack is a much bigger problem for pastors of plateaued or declining churches All pastors deal with lack of personal and ministry resources from time to time. But Turnaround pastors have a handle on the lack of sufficient reason.
In these cases time management isn't a permanent solution; that's only proper for the "never enough" personal resources.
Neither is re-allocation a permanent solution; that's only right for the "never enough" ministry resources.
For pastors the permanent solution to a lack of sufficient reason requires something different. It requires self-management.
When we find our resources pressed we must know how to identify and understand the internal impulse to say "Yes" to every request, task and demand.
To escape the "never enough" trap you must
- Recognize your emotional response to demands
- Understand why you're experiencing that emotion
- Craft a response that artfully manages the internal response to appropriately reject demands you can't or shouldn't accept.
If you're often a victim of your emotional response to the demands of others (both reasonable and unreasonable), you may need to work to break the underlying cycle of these negative emotions.
Turnaround pastors typically have a leg up here because they are more likely than others to work with a coach or mentor. Drilling into this emotional cycle to break it is key to intelligent management of the requests others put to us.
Turnaround pastors also understand that others take cues from us about what is (and is not) acceptable. Lack of self-discipline in response to unreasonable demands by church members, staff and leadership opens the door to their undesirable demands and behaviors.
In a recent ministry a subset of the church's governing board wanted to micromanage how I planned to administer communion one Sunday. When one of them phoned to discuss the matter I told him it wasn't open for discussion. I gently but firmly corrected them by telling him that they had stepped outside their boundary by presuming to speak and act for the whole board.
The response required me to check my emotional discomfort over this issue, name its source and respond appropriately.
We never visited the issue again and, with additional coaching, they made an effort to include the entire leadership team from that point forward.
- The Good Enough Pastor, Self-Management and Leadership
- Church Leaders, Why Pastors Must Learn Management Skills
- Kelly Givens, 4 Signs You May Be Addicted to Busyness
- Into Thy Word, Do you think you need to set boundaries as a pastor?
- Mike Crompton, Increase Your Emotional Intelligence through Self-Management
Time Management Resources
- Thom Rainer, 14 Tips for Time Management
- The Resurgence, 4 Time Management Tips for Leaders
- Pastoral Care, 7 Biblical Keys for Good Time Management for Ministers
How do you deal with the pressure of expectations that you should reject? Click here to leave your comments below.