I love the beach. I love the way the sand feels between my toes, the smell of the salty air, and the sound of the crashing waves on the surf. It is relaxing, reenergizing, and a place of solace and reflection.Â Then kids came along and the beach as a place of vacation has become a place of annoyance.
We (meaning me) have to carry wagons, shelters, toys, towels, lotions, coolers, diapers (or the swimmy kind, I forget what they are called), and various other necessities that a family of six need in order to go to the beach (on vacation). Our dune destinations are always about two hundred yards from where we park the car.
Going into the breach between the dunes, and traversing the sand with all the equipment is a pain going in, but it is a dreaded nightmare coming out. There are many times where I have seriously thought about just leaving it, and buying all new â€œstuffâ€ just so I wonâ€™t have to carry it out. But, my limited budget and the desire to dine at the local seafood â€œrestaurantâ€ always wins out.
Hereâ€™s a little secret you may not want to know. As I have swam in the sea, built castles out of sand, ran and played with my children, and watched the sun traverse the sky, there have been millions of tiny pieces of sand stuck to my body. What began as a necessity of vacation, by the end of the day has now become a source of great pain with each excruciating step (burdened under mounds of necessary stuff).
In an organization, say like a church, mistakes will be made and there will always be â€œtechnical difficulties.â€ But if we do not learn from our mistakes and continue to make them over and over, then like sand in the bathing suit, those little mistakes add up to one big excruciating pain.
One little misspoken word, or a job done haphazardly, a poorly worded e-mail, a forgotten task, and various other miscommunications begin to add up to disaster. One of these things alone will easily be overlooked (after all we are human), but continued and constant mistakes add up to poor management and lackluster leadership.
Irritant Personalities in Ministry
For our discussion letâ€™s put a face to these â€œgrains of sandâ€ and look at various personalities:
1) The Hero â€“ aka â€œadrenaline junkieâ€
Some people just get bored with the well-run machine. They enjoy waiting to the last minute, rushing in, and doing their task. And if there is an eventual snag (and there will always be a snag sooner or later), they enjoy the challenge of fixing it with seconds left on the clock. They feel that this is the time when they shine and are at their best. So either consciously or subconscious they create situations where they will be â€œchallenged.â€
These are great people when you are starting something new, and launching into new initiatives.Â But left there too long, they will begin to sabotage the work because it has grown boring to them. But letâ€™s face it, there are some jobs that need to be done every week, the exact same way, and if these tasks arenâ€™t done, then it leads to extreme aggravation at the least, and disaster (people leaving the organization) at itâ€™s worst. This person would do well to train others to do their task, so that they can focus on launching new initiatives and feel the rush of risk taking once more.
How does your church place individuals in ministry? And once a person is serving is there a non-obtrusive way to evaluate how they are doing and to let them know how they are doing? It may be that the adrenaline junkie is just in the wrong ministry position.
2) The Iâ€™m Too Busy â€“ Poor Time Management
Everybodyâ€™s kids play some kind of ball, are involved in Scouts, dance, swimming, underwater basket weaving, or whatever is the suburban trend for today. People are involved in all kinds of civic organizations, volunteer fire departments, PTO, PTA, NRA, NBA, etcâ€¦ Yet your church still needs leadership in order to function properly.
Is it so wrong to say to people, â€œI want you to make church and your position of leadership to take a higher priority than stuffing envelopes at your kids school, carpooling, or something else you need to say â€œnoâ€ to?â€ When you lead in an exemplary fashion you are making the church stronger, and therefore it can reach more for Christ.Â When too many leaders, have too many commitments, and church slips down the priority list, then the church as a whole begins to show signs of irritation.
But inevitably mistakes continue to happen in your organization, and it becomes very apparent that people just are not putting in the time needed to do the position of leadership properly. Why? Because there is a world vying for their time, attention, sweat, concern, resources, and their heart.Â If you look around, we live in a time where few people have â€œtons of timeâ€ on their hands.
So, you canâ€™t ask the leader to step down, who would replace them? Instead, ask them to make their commitment to the church a higher priority.Â You have to say â€œnoâ€ to some good things, to simply have the time for the greatest thing (i.e. the eternity of others, and laying up treasures for yourself).
I will deal with calendaring in another entry, but encourage this person to get as organized as they possibly can, and plan as far ahead as they possibly can.Â The problem may be that they need some help prioritizing, organizing time, and how to say â€œno.â€ Effective planning ahead requires a coordinated effort. So be prepared for when they ask you for your events on your calendar.
Poor time management (in relation to your organization) may also be a reflection on the value they see in their efforts toward the church. In other words, they may have a sense of obligation, but lack a sense of over-all vision.
If you can show them how important their ministry is to the over-all church they may be willing to give it more time. They may be highly organized and motivated for the soccer team because they are able to see immediate results. What results are you looking for that they can immediately see and that will have a high value for their lives?
3) Poor Leadership Performance
Honestly, the thing I dread the worst in ministry has to be talking with someone when they simply are not doing their job very well. I put it off, I try to give them time to turn things around, but in the end, I just know that if I donâ€™t say something, things will only get worse.
This is one of the hardest skills of a leader â€“ loving accountability. Low accountability is where a person is allowed to do whatever they wish, and perform their tasks at whatever level of professionalism they deem appropriate. The leaderâ€™s job is to maintain a high level of professionalism and even increase it as time passes.
If the over-all leader allows poor performance for a long enough period, then that area and the entire organization suffers. If you set the accountability too high then, the person will just quit which most of the time is undesirable.Â You donâ€™t want the person to quit, just to improve their performance because (among other things) it is causing serious irritation to the rest of the organization. Ministries should not operate independently but as an organic whole â€“ where each needs the (healthy) other.
It is especially difficult for the leaders who do their ministry well and take pride in their work, only to have their work become discredited by anotherâ€™s poor efforts. This eventually causes the high performing leaders to get frustrated and simply lower their standard of operating and transition the time that was spent on the church to something else; or worse case, quit.
So does your organization have an agreed upon standard of professionalism? What does it look like in the day-to-day operations? How are low performing individuals encouraged to raise their standard of performance? How are you training leaders to perform at ever increasing levels?
Before we get into the car to head back home we stop by the showers and all rinse the sand off. The water is always freezing cold, but you donâ€™t care because it gets the sand out from where it should not be. What a great feeling! The last fifty feet back to the car feel great; weâ€™re cool, the sun in setting, weâ€™re tired (the good kind of tired), and ready for a meal at that fancy seafood place. You have to wash the sand off, or it gets in the car and stays with you forever.
You have to deal with the irritants.
 Matthew 28:18ff.
 Matthew 6:19-21