So you work in a church? Great, but you have probably experienced seasons of discouragement that make you want to quit.
Being a church leader is like many jobs in that they are stressful, but it is a different type of stress.
You cannot walk away from the stress. You take it home with you and see the people who give you stress on the weekends.
You are called to ministry so you have an emotional and spiritual connection that is deep.
Your life is centered around the church.
You are alone.
There is pressure to live up to a high standard.
Church leadership is stressful (You get the point)!
So, how do you make it long-term in church leadership. How do you become a lifer in church leadership? Here are four reminders that should serve as a foundation for you to pursue longevity in church leadership.
1. Remember That Ministry Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint.
I am not a big runner. I wish I was. I run a few miles a week, and I am trying to grow that each week. I have run two 5K’s with my daughter this year, and hope I can run several more.
A 5K is one thing, but a marathon is on another level. That is 26.2 miles. That takes well over 3 hours to complete at an average pace.
Training for a marathon requires endurance. You will experience pain, frustration, exhaustion, and weariness.
You will experience all of those feelings when training for a marathon.
Ministry is not much different (wow, this is encouraging)!
You will experience pain, frustration, exhaustion, and weariness. It is a part of the territory of working directly with people day in and day out.
There is pain when someone leaves your church. It is hard to not take it personal.
There is frustration when you have vision, ideas, and strategy that the people who pay your pay check do not agree with.
There is exhaustion when you are asking to work 80-90 hours a week, because people need you at times that don’t fall under your 8 to 5 job.
There is weariness when you work and you feel like you are not making much progress.
But think back to the marathon analogy.
Marathon’s leave you with joy, accomplishment, excitement, and pride.
Ministry does the same if you stick with it. Power through the pain and one day you will experience joy.
Power through the frustration and one day you will experience accomplishment.
Power through the exhaustion and one day you will experience excitement.
Power through the weariness and one day you will be proud of your willingness to stick with it.
If you want to make it long-term, you cannot expect quick results. You have to remember that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. The Grass Is Greener Where It Gets Watered
We all know the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side.
This. Is. Not. True.
Church leaders tend to think that the church down the street always looks better than their’s.
The church that you saw on church staffing dot-com is better than the church God has called you for today.
We think that the church down the street that averages double the attendance that our church does must be better than ours.
The church with the larger facility is better than ours.
Listen, going to another church won’t fix the problems you face, it will create new problems for you to face.
Water your own grass.
Set vision where you are at now. Strengthen relationships where you are at now. Pray for contentment with where you are at now.
Remember that longevity can happen if you water your own grass and stop comparing your church to every other church around you.
When you compare, you lose.
3. You Never Outgrow Learning
Nothing is more frustrating than someone who holds the office of a leader but has stopped learning.
When you stop learning, you stop leading.
It is that simple.
The best leaders never outgrow their desire to learn.
Read. Ask questions. Study what other churches are doing. Listen to the ideas of the leaders around you.
Some of the best ideas your church will act on may not be your ideas, and that is okay.
4. Church Leadership Is Servant Leadership
Jesus did not teach us about a bully type leadership. He spoke and modeled servant leadership.
He says if you want to be first, be last.
Listen, I have never met a church leader who only does exactly what is on their job description.
There is always little things that will be asked of you that were not written on your job description.
If you only do exactly what is on your job description, you will get frustrated and leave. The people you lead will also get frustrated with you.
Hold the door for the secretary carrying boxes.
Help out on Friday with the worship guides if the team is running around.
Pick up chairs. Show up at set up from time to time.
Meet with someone who is begging for your time every now and then.
These random things that come up in church leadership may not be written on your job description, but they should be written on your heart.
The first will not be first in the kingdom of God. The first will be last, but the last will be first.
Be last. Be a servant. Serve your people and work hard.
I have been in full-time church leadership for 12 years. I hope that continues.
How long have you been in full-time church leadership?