Sometimes in ministry we need to “Pay it back”

Have you ever heard the term “pay it forward“? It is a term that often gets used in ministry circles to encourage us to sow the blessings we have received from mentors into the next generation.  We receive so much from the mentors who formed us and we pay it forward to those that we mentor.  But do we ever pay back those who have mentored us with a thank you?  Ministry can be such a thankless task that occasionally we need to thank those who mentored us along the way.

Recently I was working with a great young leader, asking him about his journey of faith.  He had a great outlook on ministry so I asked him about his role models and he was able to list four or five men who had mentored him.  These were youth group leaders or young pastors in his Church.  It happens that I know some of these men and I bet they would love to know the fruit of some their work.  More importantly that experience made me reflect on the people who I needed to thank for sowing into me.

St Paul talks about watering seeds that other have planted and to recognise that God does all the work.  Sometimes in ministry we seemed to be doing a lot of sowing and watering without much growth.  In many cases we never see the fruit of our labour because God plants the person in another ministry or another church.  We can go for years without knowing what we have achieved.  If you find yourself in this situation here is three things to do:

  1. Create a culture of Gratitude:  instead of waiting for someone to thank you for your ministry, start thanking those who serve  with you in ministry.  Thank the volunteers who serve every week, thank those who pray for the ministry and thank those who financially support your ministry.  Don’t forget to thank the people above you, your Senior Minister, Parish Priest, Vestry, Elders board or Parish Council.
  2. Thank your Mentors: think of all the people who have mentored you and sown into your development. Write them a little thank you note, message them on Facebook or email them.  Whilst it is nice to send them a card, just thank them any way you can.  Often we still look up to our mentors and forget that they are real people who get disheartened just like we do.  If you appreciate your mentors by thanking them it will help them stay strong in their ministry too.
  3. Love your Family:  often our family are the forgotten heroes of our ministry.  Perhaps your parents took you to church as a child, supported your faith or paid for you to go on camp.  Maybe your relatives encouraged your development as a teenager.  Maybe your wife, husband and kids have allowed you to go to one more ministry event.  Love your family first and thank them for the support they give you.

We should take the blessings sown into us and pass it forward to the next generation.  But don’t forget to pay back the mentoring, love and attention that you received from others.  Learn to pay it forward and pay it back.

markoffaith mark of faith, Mark of Faith

Would you do what you ask your workers to do?

There is a WorkSafe campaign on Victoria television at the moment with the slogan “would you do what you ask your workers to do?”  In each of the seven 20 second commercials a supervisor asks a worker to do something that is obviously unsafe and the worker agrees.  The point of the campaign is that workers are asked to do unsafe things all the time, just not that obvious.  Of course a worker would never do something unsafe if it was that obvious but what if it wasn’t obvious.

Check out the adds: Worksafe victoria

Whilst the campaign is frightening it drives home the point that we can’t ask people to do something that we know is unsafe.  One supervisor asks the young worker to work on a broken machine, another asks them to work in an inappropriate desk, another to fall off the back of a motor bike on a farm and another to work on a roof without a harness.

So it got me thinking about the situations which we ask our young ministry workers to go into.  Here might be a sample add:

Church leader: Will you work in our church unsupervised with no support but with all the responsibility, you will receive complaints from parents and church members, you will burn out after 18 months and probably hate the church for a while?

Young Leader: Sure

Church Leader:  Oh and we will pay you less than you would get at a fast food restaurant but work longer hours

Young Leader: Sure

If you think this is a far fetched situation then why is it all too common?  Why do we ask people to take on children ministry or youth ministry for 8-10 hours per week?  Many young people take on jobs in ministry for low pay with little supervision because we take advantage of their interest to serve the Church.  My hope is that we reduce the turn over rate of young ministry workers by putting into place support systems for our youngest leaders.   I know some churches can’t pay any more but lets give them the best mentoring and supervision available, lets disciple them like Jesus would.

Would you do what we ask young worker to do?

Discipleship is like a Christmas tree

This week I was looking through all the Christmas catalogues that landed in my mailbox.

One major department store were advertising a beautiful Christmas tree for $27 dollars. The picture of this $27 Christmas tree was amazing; it was so beautiful that it made me want one in my house. My second reaction was “how can a tree that beautiful be worth $27?” Then it hit me that this tree would have had over $200 of ornaments, lights, tinsel and other decorations on it. The picture of the $27 dollar Christmas tree I was looking at was really worth about $227.

When you think about a Christmas tree,

it looks rather plain without any decorations. Yet if you had the beautiful decorations but no tree, then all you would have is a pile of decorations. The tree is the major element and the decorations are the extras; you need the tree to hang everything on. The same is true with discipleship; we need something to hang everything off. Let me explain.

Just like in the Christmas tree example, the key to element to discipleship is our relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship with Jesus there is no discipleship. We can get so distracted by the “lights and tinsel” that we forget the core element. We can think that if we have the extras then our relationship with Jesus is secure; in reality that may not be the case. Sometimes we need to strip back the extras to see what is really lying underneath it all.

In the case of the $27 Christmas tree, I am sure once you take the $200 worth of decorations off it isn’t the best looking tree. When you strip back all the extras in your spiritual life what does your relationship with Jesus look like? Is it something that you would be proud to show off to the world by itself or do you want to put all the extras back on? Some of the extras that could distract you from the core relationship with Jesus could include:

  1. Attendance: sometime we think the more we attend Church the more we love Jesus. See Attendance vs Commitment
    for more details
  2. Friends: sometimes we think that if we hang around lots of other disciples that makes us a disciple; discipleship through association.
  3. Routine: sometimes we think that if we fill our routine with spiritual exercise that will makes us more of a disciple, we might be busier but do these exercise fill our time or draw us closer to Jesus?

As a person with the Mark of Faith on your life, sometimes you have to strip back the extras to show others the core element of that faith; your relationship with Jesus. Please leave a comment.