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Stop Leading and Turn Around

Recently, I was taken back by the words of one of my team leaders. This is a guy who has served with me for ten years as a volunteer …

Recently, I was taken back by the words of one of my team leaders. This is a guy who has served with me for ten years as a volunteer and, lately, has been on a spiritual journey into the depths of his own self. He told me that I am not listening to my leader team and that I am so busy leading in ministry that I am not caring for those I am leading with. To him, and he was right, our team (made up of myself, two part-time staff, and about six volunteers) lacked communication and community and I was leading (or not leading) this group to do ministry without caring for the care-givers.

I know myself and it hurts for others to say this about me because I do truly love them all. I am what you might call a type “A” leader. I am a passionate, proactive leader who prides himself on clear vision, creativity and calling. I know what I want to do and I do it, all in the name of Jesus. My problem, one among many, is that I am often so busy “leading” that I don’t stop, turn around, and care for those who I am serving with.

So, this news was hard to hear, but it rang out in my mind and heart as an opportunity for redemption and renewal. Since this initial conversation, I have spent about two hours with this friend doing what I frequently find so hard to do-listening. I heard his heart speak about his journey, and all the things that I would have never known about if I had not been called out to listen. Since then, I have asked God to transform my mind to focus, first, on those I serve with, even before those I am called to minister to.

The next day, I had another conversation with a close friend and fellow area director in Young Life. He told me about a question that one of his board members encouraged him to ask to everyone whom he serves along side. The question is both humbling and inquisitive: “What do you need from me to do the job that God has called you to do?” How would it change the way I served others if I asked this question to everyone I served with? This was a gift, an answer to my prayer of change. I am now in the process of asking this question to everyone I am privileged to serve along side of. Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself,” and the more I think about it the more I am certain that this is how I would want to be led and loved.

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So, how about you? How are you serving those you lead with? Are you like me, so focused on leading that you forget to listen to those serving alongside you? So many of us in ministry get so focused on being called to reach out to the lost that we get lost ourselves in the process. We find that we are so busy doing ministry that we don’t stop and become ministry. The effect of this full-speed style of ministry might reach the masses but often at the expense of key individuals, including ourselves, our families and those leading with us.

When was the last time you sat down with your staff and volunteers and asked them, “What do you need from me to do the job that God has called you to do?” When was the last time you stopped to listen to the heart of those following you into the field? They might be saying things that are important to their well-being, your well-being and the ministry that you share with them. For me it was just a few days ago. If you can’t remember, stop leading, turn around, be “quick to listen, slow to speak,” and hear the heart of your leaders. You won’t regret it!

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