In my last post, I talked about the importance of understanding the wheel that God has you on. This post I would like to focus on something that I have to fight on a daily basis. In my limited opinion, mediocrity will prematurely put a lid on a ministry. Not only that, but I think that you can view your place that God has you as insignificant and not important in the grand scheme of things. We need to battle mediocrity.
In case you have not noticed, ministry takes a lot of personal motivation. When you are first starting out, there is not necessarily a daily routine. You may not have a laundry list of tasks that you need to accomplish. In fact, if you sit down too long you start to think of all of the other things in life that are far more important than ministry.
I have noticed rather quickly that I do not have to work very hard at ministry to get by. I can Google an icebreaker, put a nice Christian music playlist together, copy that devotional I heard earlier this week, and grab a couple bowls of chips and I am on my way to a decent evening. In fact this may be what happens every week for you. The scary part is that it could be better than what was there before you got there. To your boss, it could be revolutionary. The problem: you are not comfortable with just getting by. When you decided to go into the ministry, you had some lofty goals. I did not personally get into ministry so that I could be an outlet for young people to hang out. I did not get into the ministry because I loved weird games. I got into the ministry because I believe that the church is the hope of the world. How about you? You had a vision that kept you up at night, but then maybe comfort of mediocrity has taken over.
I am convinced that I can do more than I am currently doing and I can reach more people than I am currently reaching. Mediocrity tells me that I am doing enough, and that I am influencing enough people. Mediocrity will kill my work ethic.
I love what Paul told the Thessalonians: “don’t grow weary in doing good.” That position you took to develop a youth ministry, is a good position. The task you have is good. You are shaping young minds. You are forming how they will view the world, how they will respond to life circumstances. You are giving them tools necessary to make it over the long haul. That is good! We can all do more than we are currently doing. We can work harder on the good stuff. Here is how Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message, “Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.”
Other than praying like crazy, here are 3 ways that I battle mediocrity (there are probably more, but this will be helpful):
- Read More
I categorize my reading into a few different categories: Leadership, Theology, Business, Fiction, and occasionally a random non-fiction. I do not worry so much about finishing the books that I read, I just make sure that I am reading. I use Feedly to filter the websites that I like to read. I try to read a few articles every day. Harvard Business Review is an excellent resource. Reading opens my mind up to what I do not know. You will become a better leader the day you start to read.
- Visit another Ministry
This is important to do. My wife, Esther, and I love visiting other churches, young adult ministries, and youth ministries. It can be very motivating to expect bigger things when you are visiting a ministry that is banging on all cylinders. The same way you will take your group to a conference as a catalyst for their spiritual lives, you need to attend a conference as a catalyst for your vision. Visiting another ministry is not free, but it is worth the expense.
- Connect with Leaders
If you want to get better, you need to learn from someone who is better than you. I try to talk to other leaders throughout my week. Whether it be on the phone or over lunch, I am always trying to connect with leaders. A way to cheat at this is to listen to podcasts. There are a couple leadership podcasts that give you access to the best leaders in ministry. Take advantage of technology. Ministry is hard work. I want to talk to some people who are obsessed with doing it well. It motivates me to not grow weary in doing good.
Those are three ways that I battle mediocrity. You need to pray. Ask God to help you stay fresh. God will help you work hard and stay motivated. God will also give you vision and passion for your ministry area. Remember, being in ministry is GOOD. It is hard work, but it is good.
What practices do you have to not grow weary in doing good? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would love to hear about it.
I like to end by giving you a couple resources that help me:
- The Truth About Leadership, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
- The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast (iTunes Store)
Josh is the Young Adult Pastor at Faith Chapel in Syracuse, NY. Through a dynamic speaking style, he challenges audiences to live out the key Biblical principles that God has promised will change the world. Josh is a graduate of Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY and has a Master’s Degree in Ministry from Southwestern Christian University in Oklahoma.