Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Growing ministers, growing churches

Many years ago I read a book with the same title as this blog post that was written by Reginald McDonough.  The premise of the book isn't hard to figure out.  Only those ministers who are growing can lead a growing church.  What I found helpful as a young pastor were the four areas the author identified in which we needed to grow.  To neglect any of these areas will cause our personal growth to be limited which will then hinder our ability to lead our churches.  He said we needed to
  • Grow in our self-understanding
  • Grow in relational skills
  • Grow in leadership skills
  • Grow as a person in Christ.
One of the challenges I've had during my ministry was keeping these in balance.  I'll work on one area for a season and then realize that I'm slipping in another one.  For example, I find it very easy to want to focus on developing my leadership skills, but then I wake up one day and realize that my relational skills have become poor.  Usually, when that happens I have become so focused on achieving the tasks I need to get done that I ignore the people around me.  I begin to see them as a hindrance to my ministry rather than seeing that they ARE my ministry! At that point I have to repent and start over rebuilding those relationships.

Similarly, there will be times when I really want to focus on trying to better understand myself that the focus becomes on me rather than who I am in Christ.  Can you see how easily any of these can get out of balance and have a negative impact on our lives and our ministries?  It is vital that we continually seek ways to grow in each of these areas.

In the book McDonough writes that "Meaningful personal growth has four basic characteristics; it is intentional, directional, dynamic, and relational."  Briefly, by this he explains that personal growth is not automatic but is by choice.  Each of us must decide that we are going to grow as individuals, that we are not going to just react to what life brings us, but that we are going to develop a personal growth plan and set goals for our growth.  Growth is directional as it comes as we pass through the various stages of life well prepared for the next stage.  It is dynamic in that it never finishes.  Success in personal growth in never a destination but will always be a journey.  Finally, growth is relational.  It occurs as we interact with other and with God.  Growth does not come as we isolate ourselves from one another; it comes through our relationships with the various people we encounter in life.

Growth is always a process whether we are talking about personal growth or church growth, but it is a process we must enter into intentionally.  What will you do in 2013 to grow as a person, as a spouse, as a parent, as a minister?  If you are bivocational, how will you grow as an employee or employer?  What are you doing now that hinders your personal growth that you are willing to set aside?  What books do you plan to read in the coming year that will aid in your growth?  What new relationships do you want to develop?  What old relationships do you need to avoid?  In our hurry-up world of multi-tasking, how will you slow down enough to be able to hear the still, small voice of God speaking to you?

There really is a correlation between growing ministers and growing churches.  Looking back at my pastorate I can now see that it was during the times when I was growing that our church also grew, and when I was coasting personally so did our church.  I see the same thing now as a judicatory leader working with numerous churches.  The benefits of having a personal growth plan are huge for you, your family, and your ministry.  If you haven't already done so, begin now to develop such a plan for your life in 2013.

1 comment:

Tiffany Franc said...

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