This is a critical thought that every leader needs to wrestle with. “I’m not as important as I think I am.” Many leaders find themselves stuck in their ministry. They’ve surrounded themselves with programs, tasks and responsibilities that depend on them. So many plates are spinning and it’s up to the leader to keep them going. I really don’t believe it’s a pride of vanity issue. It’s not that these leaders think so much of themselves and have some kind of messiah complex. But for some reason, so many of us struggle with this very issue.
Several years ago I heard Doug Fields speak at Orange Conference. Doug had been the student pastor at Saddleback Church for 15+ years. He talk about his transition off of staff. One day he had the weight of one of the largest and most renown student ministries in the country and the next day it wasn’t his to lead anymore. He felt sure that someone was going to call him that first day… or that first week. The phone never rang.
I’ve been on vacation now for 9 days now. The 2-3 days before I left made me wonder if it was worth going on vacation at all. I had to get all my ducks in a row. I had a list of things I needed to get done and I got them all done, expect for a few. In the final hours, I started delegating these last tasks to my staff and then I got in the car and left. It’s been nine days and no one has called. The other day I saw one of my coworkers and I started to ask about something work related and she told me that I didn’t need to worry about that.
If I didn’t come back to work next week (I do plan to), my staff wouldn’t be very happy. However, if I didn’t come back, the ministry wouldn’t collapse. There are good people who would take on the extra responsibility and keep it going.Who knows, it might even get better. Others will come out of the woodwork. Sure, I am important… but not as important as I think I am.
Why do I say all of this?
Ministry has a way of chewing people up and spitting them out. However, it’s not always the ministry. We do it to ourselves. We don’t delegate and raise up others to help. We surround ourselves with programs and tasks that depend on us. For the sake of your calling and the sake of those God has entrusted to you, relax a little. It’s not going to fall apart. Take a vacation or simply turn off your phone. One day you won’t be there and more than likely, everything is going to be just fine. So realize that you’re less important than you think you are and enjoy a ministry that lasts.
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We have a daily question in our house. “Who’s the most important person in the house?” “Who’s the most important person in the car?” Who’s the most important person at your school?”
The only acceptable answer is: “Not me!”
That’s funny. I remember working for a missions organization as an intern right out of High School. I was the apartment leader for the 5 other guys who lived in an apartment together. One of the other guys and I just didn’t get a long. He was about 4-5 years older than me and he didn’t want to follow my lead. We met with the internship director and he asked the other guy, “David, do you think Kenny is better than you?”
Then he turned to me. “Kenny, do you think David is better than you?”
I don’t remember how I answered. I know what I was thinking in my mind. 🙂 Then we read Phil 2:3. I know the meeting with my roommate was intended to help him fall in line, but it is an almost 20 year old memory that has never left me.