Balancing the “Big Deals” Within an Organization – A Challenge of Senior Leadership

I’ll never forget the first time I found out a staff member was disappointed with my leadership. He didn’t think I supported his ministry. I had said no to a budget item for his ministry area, because we needed to do something in another ministry area. I felt horrible. I knew personally I valued his ministry – and him – but my actions had led him to believe otherwise.

I learned a couple of things from this experience.

First, I needed to better communicate the “why” behind my decisions.

Second, there are some things we do as senior leaders others on the team can’t understand – and we shouldn’t expect them to.

As a leader, I have to consistently remind myself one person’s big deal may not be another person’s big deal.

As a pastor, those in finance ministry naturally believe their ministry is critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to finances above everything else. It’s their big deal.

Those in small group ministry naturally believe their ministry is most critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to small group ministry above everything else. It’s their big deal.

Those in worship planning ministry naturally believe their ministry is most critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to worship planning above everything else. It’s their big deal.

Those in children’s ministry naturally believe their ministry is most critical to the success of the church, which may lead them to think attention should be given to children’s ministry above everything else. It’s their big deal.

You get the point. And it is true in my current nonprofit role also. It was true when I was in the business world as a senior leader.

Of course, the ultimate “big deal” is the vision of the organization. As a church, our big deal – our vision – was to “lead people to Jesus and nurture them in their faith“. While everyone on our team agreed with this vision, they were also rightfully passionate about – and actively involved in – their specific role in accomplishing their individual vision. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I wanted them owning their individual ministry and doing everything they could to see it prosper. But at times this specially focused passion for their role could cloud their ability to see the needs of other ministries.

Of course, all areas have equal importance in accomplishing the vision in any organization. Therefore, part of a leader’s job is balancing all the “big deals” towards one combined BIG DEAL – the shared vision of the organization. We can’t spend all our energy, time, and resources in one particular area, as important as it is to the success of the church.

Frankly, finding balance between these competing big deals has always been difficult for me, and at times one area does require greater attention than others. The key learning for me is I must continually recognize the individual contribution each area brings to our overall success, while always keeping the big picture in my mind of what we are trying to accomplish. I can’t allow one area to cloud my perspective of other areas.

It’s a unique role of senior leaders others on the team may not always understand – or even appreciate. And, we shouldn’t expect them to.

Leaders, do you share this dilemma? How do you balance the big deals within your organization?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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  • […] I knew as pastor we didn’t have the budgeted funds to make the purchase. I also knew there were many other areas of ministry in our church that were competing for the same limited dollars. (I wrote about this dilemma leaders face often in a previous post.) […]

  • […] I knew as pastor we didn’t have the budgeted funds to make the purchase. I also knew there were many other areas of ministry in our church that were competing for the same limited dollars. (I wrote about this dilemma leaders face often in a previous post.) […]

  • jimpemberton says:

    I can't speak to a fully-orbed balance. However, I will make an observation I see from my church: each big deal area ministers to people who work in other big deal areas. People in the music ministry have children in the children's ministry. People in missions benefit from our teaching ministry.

    Additionally, many people are involved in more than one area. I'm involved in the music ministry both as a musician and a sound tech, but my passion is missions and teaching. My wife and I lead our mission effort to Venezuela and we have an opportunity now to expand into Colombia. My wife is also the ministry coordinator for the Child Evangelism Fellowship chapter that's run out of our church and our kids also help out with that. My oldest son especially is a trained teacher of volunteers for the CEF clubs and also floats between multiple clubs. My daughter is active in the youth praise team as well as the adult music ministry. My family is only one example. This pattern of cross-involvement (I like the pun as I type that) helps keep perspective on the value of each ministry. The more that individuals and families are cross-involved, the more they temper their passion for one big deal with a view of the larger vision.

  • Alex says:

    Great challenging post to work through, Ron.
    For me, I have made it a point to, (from time to time) mention something from a particular church ministry. I mention some of their results (without mentioning amounts – but just personal results) demonstrating to others the importance of that ministry. In addition, testimony time (which many churches don't do anymore) also help the entire church see the importance of different ministries within the local body. Also, an email, a text or something small like that has helped the ministry leaders to see that I care and I'm on top of things, in terms of praying for the areas they care about.

    Somehow, the body needs to catch the heart of the pastor in that he feels and believes that all ministries of the local assembly are all equally important. Favoritism is one thing we must all work at not portraying even accidentally. This way, every knows that Pastor feels everyone and everything done in the church is important – including cleaned bathrooms 🙂

  • patriciazell says:

    I don't envy you guys at all! I have enough just to keep my students focused on the content I am teaching. I'm sure just trying to keep everything balanced sends you to your knees. And, that's a good thing! 🙂

  • Dan Rockwell says:

    Ron,

    Great post with a great question. Here's one of my balance challenges. Our Church meets in a Cinema Center so we have set up teams who prepare the facility for Sunday. Our Children's ministry (Imagination Station) meets in the hallway. Each team is fulfilling our mission of turning people toward grace. Each team has needs that include time constraints and volunteer recruitment.

    If we aren't careful the setup team begins to constrain the Children's ministry team. For example, the less equipment and supplies needed the easier the setup teams job becomes. So, setup teams advocate for simplicity. I don't blame them.

    Currently our approach is to give more weight to the Children's ministry team because it is engaged in first level ministry. That means we encourage the setup team to bite the bullet.

    It's a challenge that we address by focusing on mission and vision.

    Regards,

    Dan

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