The Difference between Ministry & Leadership
I ended up in ministry because I love to minister. Personally, I feel right at home when I’m preaching, teaching, prophesying, singing, helping, ministering in God’s presence and in His Gifts. It’s my sweet spot!
And most church leaders are the same.
But one day I learned I needed to change.
It was a few years ago that I noticed that our church had grown to a certain place, and had begun to plateau. At first I simply preached louder, longer, better. I tried to get us all praying harder and prophesying more accurately. But none of it helped the church grow. What had helped bring us to where we were, was no longer working!
Eventually I worked out that the problem was partly to do with me, my growth, my style and my maturity (ouch!). You see, my natural love of Ministry (which is legitimate) needed to be added to, in order for us continue to be healthy as a church family.
After some soul searching, wisdom hunting and advice asking, I eventually discovered that I needed to accept that I needed to change if we were going to continue in God’s purposes of healthy growth.
The change I needed to make was that I needed not only to be a Minister, but also a better Leader.
There’s a little verse in the Psalms illustrates what I mean:
“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he led them.” Psalm 78:72
Here we see two distinct sides to a divine, senior, leadership role:
He Shepherded Them (Ministry)
This is the stuff most of us in Ministry love to do. It’s Caring, Serving those in need, Preaching, Teaching, Counselling, Praying, Feeding, Visiting, Cleaning, Speaking, Singing, Prophesying, Evangelising. It’s all good, but only one side of leading a healthy group.
He Led Them (Leadership)
Many of those who love the above, often feel less capable (even hopeless!) at the next piece. “With skilful hands he led them.” This speaks to me of creating & designing culture, influencing group atmospheres, organisational health, replicating your gifting, discipling, coaching, training, raising up, reproducing, empowering people, appointing, growing teams, delegating, casting vision and goals, releasing new generations, pioneering and innovating.
In recent years, as I have added increased leadership capacity to my ministry capacity, the church has started to grow again. At first, developing personal higher levels of leadership actually intimidated me (In fact, I know there are some church cultures that almost believe it’s insulting to God to be too good and studious at leadership! So I had to overcome that too!).
But as I read, traveled, learned from greater leaders, studied and immersed myself in leadership thinking, a new capacity started to grow in me.
After all, Romans 12:8 says that “if we are to lead, do it diligently”. There is a grace to lead diligently that can flow from heaven, and if we tend that leadership gift, just like we develop our preaching and prophecy, it will grow.
And when the family of God is led well, she will grow.
So how can we get better at leading? If like me, you love to minister, but the concept of great organisational leadership is daunting, then simply start to add more leadership learning to your diet. Read leadership books, listen to podcasts, visit some conferences outside of your normal favourite stream. As months turn into years, you’ll find greater leadership capacities start to stir in you naturally, and before you know it, growth and life will flow through that gift, just like it flows through your preaching and prophesying!
Oh, and let me be cheeky and say, you could learn about Ministry and Leadership at my online course When Spirit & Word Collide or in the book of the same name. Find out more here.