The Cost of ‘Arriving’ in Ministry

©iQoncept/ Dollar Photo Club

Are you a better minister this year than you were last year? What are you doing to ensure you are? I’ve heard leadership gurus ask, “Can you get just 5% better this year as a leader?”

In his book, Elevate, Rich Horwath talks about the lack of intentional improvement amongst leaders. I think his ideas also apply to ministry leaders.

Horwath explains how many professionals, especially athletes, spend 90% of their time practicing and only 10% performing in competition. Amongst business executives, that number is reversed. In fact, as Horwath points out, research from a recent HR study shows that senior executives receive the least amount of training of all company employees, and close to half of those received no training or development during the past year.

Horwath remarks, “It’s ironic that as a leader assumes more responsibility and makes decisions that have a much greater impact on the overall business [church], they’re given less practice and training.”

Once we as ministers have gone through the gauntlet of higher education and survived our first years in ministry, we have a tendency to think we can throttle down the development – thus having the mindset that we’ve arrived.

I wonder, like in many professions, if ministers should have to obtain Continuing Education Units in order to maintain our ministry license?

Time on the job (i.e. experience) doesn’t always make you better at it. In fact, we all know veterans of ministry work who seemingly get 5% worse each year. If you don’t work at improving, if you don’t still pray through ministry decisions, you’ll become ministry-atrophied.

A minster that is atrophied professionally or spiritually begets a church that becomes atrophied.

Self-development is a significant part of our church’s culture. I’ve blogged before about our required leadership course for staff, and how I keep my professional and personal self-development goals in front of me for measurable success. There are plenty of ways to accomplish self-development, but you must be intentional about choosing one.

Don’t fall victim to the “I’ve arrived” or “I’m too busy” attitudes. These attitudes will keep you just as you are, and even if you’re good, it won’t last. You’ll become ministry atrophied, and the church that needs you to help move it forward to all God has called it to be, will begin to atrophy too.

Practice. Be intentional. Get better (even 5%). Do your part to make Christ’s church better.

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