Part 1: Balancing People and Tasks
So much to do…so little time. Surely you’ve felt the demands of ministry: to-do lists to complete, people’s requests to fulfill, conflicts to resolve, gaps to fill, relationships to build. Ministry can be a balancing act! You stand quaking on the tightrope platform, knowing you must get to the other side, but the tightrope looks so small, and the ground looks so far away. You consider the unavoidable tasks that need to be done to manage ministry – but then think of the purpose of ministry: impacting people’s lives. If you focus on tasks, relationships with people suffer. If you take time for relationships, tasks don’t get done. Apprehension sets in, and your feet feel frozen in lead.
How can you balance people and tasks so you (and your ministry) begin to move across the tightrope?
Use good tools. Create a balance by gathering tools to establish and maintain balance. Some people love organization but can get so caught up in it that the organization itself takes priority over the goal of getting stuff done. Some people loathe organization. Color-coding ranks right below scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush. But you’ll only survive a short time without some organization in your ministry.
Be strategic. Know your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to organization, and gather tools that help, not hinder, ministry. Are there reports you must complete, and do you have deadlines imposed by others? Avoid waiting until the last minute. Schedule mandatory projects to be completed several days in advance.
Be realistic. If you’re not a color-coding, keep-everything-organized person, it’s probably not wise to spend one full work week creating a filing system so detailed you’ll never use it…let alone even remember what your rationale for the organization was when you created it! Stretch yourself but don’t overextend yourself. Remember, organization is a tool to help you be more productive. It’s not the productivity in and of itself.
Choose organizational tools well. As you walk across the tightrope, you want to carry the right pole. If you choose one that’s too light, heavy, long, or short, you’ll struggle to maintain balance.
Build strong relationships. Schedule consistent time for people.For some, this won’t be an issue. You’d rather sit and chat with people all day long. But believe it or not, some people dread time with people. Relationships take effort and energy. Interactions can be draining, frustrating, and disheartening. They can also be encouraging and inspiring. In reality, relationships are all these things. Relationships involve people…who can be draining, encouraging, frustrating, inspiring, and disheartening. Ministry would be so much easier if it didn’t involve people, right? Of course, impacting people’s lives is the point of ministry. We’re reaching and growing people for God – so we’re going to have to build relationships with them.
Since you’re going to build relationships, focus on making them strong. As you’re moving across the tightrope of ministry, you want to know those around you. You want to recognize their voices, know what their strengths (and weaknesses) are and how they work together. You’ll have relationships of many levels of depth, and that’s good! Some will be your most trusted advisors. Some will watch from the crowd and cheer you on (or boo you from time to time). Some will be part of your preparation or part of your celebration. Trust God to guide you as you build relationships with each of the people he places in your ministry.
Trust the safety net. Your ministry isn’t really your ministry. It’s God. It’s tempting to take control. We feel responsible, proud, and guilty when things go well or not so well. But we’re not called to complete a ministry. We’re called to be obedient to what God has planned for us. He knows the big picture. Your journey across the tightrope is simply one piece of his plan. It might look and feel like you’re on your own on that high tightrope of ministry, but he’s invested in it, and he’s placed a strong safety net below you.
So pick up the best tools and connect with the people around you. Be flexible. Trust the safety net and take a deep breath in prayer. It’s time to take one step at a time.
Respecting the Lord by the way they lived, and being encouraged by the Holy Spirit, the group of believers continued to grow. Acts 9:31 (NLT)
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Susan Lawrence is a Women’s Ministry Consultant passionate about encouraging and equipping women for healthy relationships. Access free samples of her two Bible studies, Pure Purpose and Pure Emotion, as well as a Women’s Ministry Event Guide: Living a Life of Adventure, and follow her blog at http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/