I was talking to the Executive Director of a homeless ministry recently. Everyday, she feeds hundreds of meals. Every night the ministry boards dozens of men and women. They clothe people. They help prepare people for job interviews. It’s an amazing ministry, doing great work, but the leader is tired, the budget is stretched, and the volunteers are thin and everyone is worn out emotionally and physically.
What’s the problem? The challenge?
It was easy to diagnose. The leader never has time to do board development. She never has time to fundraise. She never has time to cast the vision. She never has time to plan and dream. She never has time to invest in anything that lasts bigger than today.
It’s a problem. It’s a challenge.
And, if she’s not careful…and I hate to be the one to say this to such a wonderful ministry and passionate ministry leader…eventually, it has the potential to tremendously cripple the ministry. If fact, the future of the ministry, in my professional organizational leadership opinion, is in jeopardy now.
Show me a over-worked and tired leader. Show me stressed volunteers. Show me a thin budget. Show me a ministry with more demands than the resources or people to meet them…
And, I’ll show you a ministry that is headed for certain trouble unless something is addressed.
It reminds me of the hardest thing I’ve seen for ministers to do who love doing ministry.
If he or she has a heart to serve others. If he or she loves helping people…connecting with people…ministering to people…
The hardest thing to do…
Is to step back and see the bigger picture.
They have a hard time stopping ministry long enough to explore longer-term issues. They have a hard time doing, what seems to be at the time, unproductive work. There is always one more person who needs to be fed. There is always another hurting person. That’s why the ministry exists, right?
My advice: Be willing to stop feeding one so you can feed dozens more in months to come.
Spend time developing the board. Spend time recruiting more volunteers. Spend time raising more funds. Spend time casting the vision to the community. Spend time simply resting.
It will seem you’re neglecting the ministry for a time, but in the big picture, you’ll be building a better and stronger ministry.
What do you need to stop doing now so you can see even more done later?