3 Ways to Promote Lifelong Learning
Use your congregation as a continuing education seminar. Everything that happens in your church, positive or negative, is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself, about the church, about the people in it and their families
The above is one of the tips from my eBook 111 Tips to Survive Music Ministry. Let me unpack it a bit…
Learn about yourself What do you notice when you get your way, or don’t get your way? What happens inside you when a choir or congregation member criticizes you, to your face, or behind your back? Become a student of your own desires, frustrations, and reactions.
Look for the parallels between what happens at church and in the family you grew up in. Did you hide out at times of conflict, or wade into the middle of it? And do you do the same now? If you were the oldest, you might have a challenge with a supervisor. If you were the youngest, you may find it hard to take a strong leadership role when necessary. You can spend your whole career, and beyond, learning about yourself
Learn about the church What do you see in the congregation? How do they make decisions, financially and otherwise, they choose leaders, and they handle differences? Find out about the role of music in the history of the church. Become a researcher: carefully observe their process. You may even want to take notes.
Why bother with this? You will become more neutral, in a good way. Every church is fascinating. The more you are fascinated by yours, the less you’ll be tearing your hair out, asking “Why are they doing this to me?” They are not doing it to you – it’s just what they do. It’s probably happened before, and will happen after you leave.
Learn about the people and their families When you know more about the families of the people you work with, you’ll understand them better. Find out all you can about the families they grew up in and where they fit in the family. Where did they fit in the siblings? What did their parents do for work? What was the place of church in the family, and music?
One of the sometimes-challenging aspects of ministry is that you often see extended families in action. But more than almost any workplace, you have an unparalleled chance to learn what makes some of the people tick, by seeing them with their family.
For those who are cut off from their family, you can predict they will attach more intensely to their church and to groups within it like the choir. When they get upset, they may leave, the choir or even the church. It’s not about you.
It can be easier to extend compassion to others when you know what they are up against and where they came from. This doesn’t mean you have to put up with everything they do, but you can see the bigger picture. And you can appreciate the strengths of families that, generation after generation, provide healthy faithful church leaders and members.
What can you learn this week about yourself, your church, and your people? What have you learned? Please share in the comments below.
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