Your ministry is not about you. This was hard for me to grasp, being the guy who thought that he had all the talent in the world to get anything done on his own. However, I think that Cobb knew this; he was the one who pretty much watched me in my journey to accepting the Lord. Cobb knew my shortcomings. He knew what I was good at, what I wasn't. He knew my potential. And his leadership was the reason I decided to go into ministry, changing my entire life direction in the matter of only a couple of years. I knew I cold do the job, whatever it may be in whatever I chose to do in life. That was not the problem. However, I also knew that I was arrogant and up until the point of wanting to go into ministry I did not worry about it too much. Now I was at an impasse. I was not sure that I could do ministry and make it in the long haul, given my weaknesses and sins. Cobb knew though. He groomed me into a leader with the potential to embrace humility. I would soon learn.
He took tons of time helping me to see that ministry was not about me. Had I gone into any other business in the world I would not have flinched in my demeanor and goals, which could have sent me spiraling out of control. Lucky for me, God changed my direction. Now that I was in ministry the hardest part for me in my new quest was seeing that the rest of my life was to be lead for others. I would be living not only to be in God's love but to help others to do the same. And who better to do it than the guy who had the hardest time doing just that... living in God's love.
As our ministry grew from about twenty students to more than a few hundred it was often difficult to keep the peeps first. I became engulfed with making sure that the program side of ministry was working properly, that each of the puzzle pieces were in place. I was always wondering what needed to be done to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. I did not want to mess stuff up. I found myself getting frustrated with the little things, you know, stuff that did not really matter in the large scheme of ministry. It was important to get it right, but I began to take the hits personal... all the time.
I cannot pinpoint where the change came, but it did. Cobb had weekly meetings with us and constantly reminded us that we were not the reason for ministry. We were merely here doing the work we were supposed to be doing for the Kingdom. I began to view our success in ministry from a different angle. I knew that I wanted stuff t be perfect, but it will never be. I know that now, but it was a hard pill to take back then. We never stopped trying to be the best, but the larger our ministry grew the more we had to give ourselves a gut check.
It is something very intangible. As you do ministry more and more, if you can learn to see it from the perspective of a gift in your life, then it will be more rewarding than ever. How do you view your ministry? Are you trying to be perfect? Do you take failures personal. I had one of those gut checks recently when I was able to chill with Cobb at a conference for church leaders. I see that he has always, and still does now even with a new staff, done ministry from all angles. I know he deals with staff and program struggles, just like he did when we were on staff together. The relationships in your life may change but the approach should not. Put people first and you will never think ministry is about you. I continue to learn this lesson. And whenever I want to make it about me, whether it be intentional or not, I remember that the reason I chose ministry for the long haul was realized, and still is found, in the relationships God has given to me.