Thursday, March 31, 2011

    MINISTRY MATTERS: When Things Don't Go Your Way

    It happens to all of us sooner or later. If you're in youth ministry long enough it will happen more than once. What do you do when things don't go your way? 

    You have an amazing brainstorm -- maybe it comes to you just as you're waking up at 5 in the morning.  A great idea about how to revolutionize your youth program, or a plan for a mission trip to a foreign land that will impact your teens forever, or a new ministry focus that will help turn your church around.  Or maybe it's just a great idea for a new study or event.  The excitement builds as you work out a plan for this new thing and then you present it to your leaders.....and they aren't interested.  Or perhaps worse -- they think it's a lousy idea and they don't mind detailing for you exactly why.  What do you do?  You're convinced this idea is not only good, but it's the right thing for your ministry, but no one else is really behind it.  What do you do?

    1) Remember it's not all about you: It's easy in these situations to take the rejection personally.  "If they really respected my leadership," you might be thinking, "They'd trust me on this."  You might start wondering if some of the naysayers have it in for you or if it's time to start looking for a new church where they will love all of your new ideas instantly!  At times like this it helps to remember that we are called to serve the mission of the church -- not the other way around.  The whole point of being a community of faith is to have a shared mission, not a collection of individual agendas. Furthermore, people reject new ideas for all sorts of reasons, most of which probably will have nothing to do with you. Lastly, though it might be hard to hear this, it just might be that your new idea stinks! Be open to that possibility and really listen to what others are telling you. 

    2) Rethink your plan:  Maybe your new idea is just a little too bold, too big, or even scary to some who are happy with the status quo.  But perhaps you could adapt your plan. Start with just one piece of it and work on that for awhile.  Postpone your plan. Six months or a year from now might make all the difference in others being ready to accept the idea. Go to a different group in the church and see if they might be more receptive to trying your new approach.    Perhaps the best idea of all:  Present your idea to just a few individuals and get their feedback and hopefully their buy-in.  It's much easier to create excitement around something if you already have a few core church members who are also passionate about the plan and want to support it. 

    3) Let it Go:  Sometimes an idea is before its time.  Sometimes an idea that sounds great at 5:00 in the morning or looks great on paper just isn't practical in application. At some point, if you can't get others to support your brainstorm, it's time to ask 1) Is it such a great idea if no one else is willing to support it? or 2) Is continuing to fight for this idea worth the time, energy, and possible conflict?  Ultimately, this comes down to priorities about what's most important in the ministry you have been called to in the Church. The best plan, in the end, might be just to let it go and focus on the big stuff. 

    What about you?  Ever been in this situation?  I have -- more times than I'd care to share.  What have been your experiences with something in ministry not going your way?  What did you do about it? 


    jpez9 said...

    Great post. Been there before and it can be a gut check at times. Feels like a personal jab... but what I've found is not to show all my cards at once because people can't handle a full deck thrown at them. So how do you make it not your idea but our idea. Now this might sound like manipulation, but not if God is i the middle of it all. I'd say cast the vision.. the WHY and maybe not the means. Get people excited about WHERE your going and then discuss and dialogue about HOW to get their. When people are a part of the beginning then they are on board for the whole journey. Most likely will find out during the conversation if they would even be up for that idea at all. Final thing that hurts and maybe allowing someone else to say the idea. Leading someone else to the conclusion. This takes a lot of guts cuz we all desire some credit, but as long as your doing what GOD is calling you too then WHO Cares right! Thanks for getting me thinking.

    Brian Kirk said...

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. All good advice! I particularly resonate with your final point about letting it be someone else's idea. It used to frustrate me when I started in ministry that an idea I suggested eventually was attributed to a committee in the church or a member who helped get the idea off the ground -- but that's just ego issues. Ultimately, what matters is the ministry.