Saturday, February 8, 2014

Don't Miss the Best Ministry!

My TIE Value: Be Still

     This school year I watched the flag football tryouts at my local middle school. There were 60 students vying for 12-15 places on the roster. Then there was ONE faculty member who served as the coach. He had the task to evaluate the 60 middle schoolers who were jazzed to give their best efforts to make this team. The coach had his clipboard, whistle, and all the cones set up for the tryout. As a West Texan who knows football like a Canadian knows hockey, I was curious to see how this coach would evaluate middle school talent for the school’s flag football team. Especially when middle schoolers come in all interesting shapes and sizes as a result of being in different physical growth stages.

     The tryouts were broken down into three sections. First, there was the agility and ball carrying section. There were no two middle schoolers alike. No matter the size of the student, everyone got tangled with their legs at least one time with the ball in hand. I am sure in their minds they looked like pros. Second, there was the passing and defense section where the coach would show the quarterback and two receivers the play they would run against two defenders. While there were varying abilities, each middle schooler ran and defended with much determination. And third, there was the 40-yard dash where the students were divided in groups of 10 for an old fashioned sprinters race.
     As I was watching these tryouts unfold, I found myself watching the coach to see what leadership lessons I can observe. What I noticed is that in the agility drills he blew his whistle for each student to start the course but never once watched for standouts. During the passing and defense drill only kids who were tall had passes thrown to them. The set up was obvious when there were shorter kids running great patterns and getting separation from the defenders would get a look from the best quarterback but the pass would still go to the tall guy running a poor pattern in tight coverage. And then the 40 yard race the coach wrote on his clipboard for the first time to identify the winners of the race.   

     At the end of the tryouts coach’s methodology was obvious. The team of 12-15 was to be comprised of the 10 tall guys and the rest of the roster slots filled by the fastest guys. To be fair, I admire anyone who can come out with their sanity when doing anything with 60 middle school boys. However, he missed out on seeing the best football of the day because of his preferences. It was no surprise to me that they won very few games during the season.

Then I had a My TIE Moment.

     As a pastor trying to mobilize the church to get involved with ministry, I can be just as guilty in scouting out the prospects according to my personal preferences. The mental evaluation chart might include the preferred abilities, talents, passions, trustworthiness, friendship, life and spiritual maturity, integrity, etc, etc. This kind of humanistic evaluation tempts church leaders to assign a mental score in order to identify the best team before they try to persuade them to join a ministry.  However over the years I have found that the people with the highest scores not always turn out to be the ministry all-stars. There needs to be consultation with God well in advance of building a ministry team.

     Like middle schoolers are not finished growing into the person they will be as adults, so are the people in our church. God sees what they can become as they commit their ways to Him.  My desire is not to miss the best ministry because I only look for my own preferences. Therefore, church leaders need to pray to God to see the people in the church through His vision for organizing ministry that gives the best chance for people to serve out their God potential rather the church’s program potential. While Godly qualifications are essential when selecting our church leaders, I am reminded that when selecting ministry team members we need to allow Christ to grow our vision. This helps us to see the people He is growing. Therefore, over the years I have grown to pray through Colossians 3:12-17 before I ask anyone to consider essential life growing ministry in our church.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12;16-17 (NIV)

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