Are you taking your ministry too seriously? You might be, if you feel the pressure to make it all work, and get frustrated and irritable when people don’t get it. Or you feel that if you just tried harder, everything would go better. Edwin Friedman used to say, “seriousness is a sign of anxiety.” And anxiety is contagious. Serious, anxious leaders can get in the way of the results they hope for.
Calm is Contagious
The good news is, calm is also contagious. When the leader can lighten up and calm down, the atmosphere changes automatically. People respond differently to a calm leader. They have a greater sense of possibility, and they want to be part of what’s going on.
I sang in a church choir when I was in college, at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. The director, David Morales, was young, but he was an excellent director and a good leader. He was simply calm.
I knew nothing about the internal church politics at the time or staff relations. At 19 I didn’t care about those things. But here’s what I noticed: He expected more from us than we thought we could do. At the same time, he never got upset, even when things didn’t go well. He smiled often.
It was a pleasure to attend rehearsals and to sing every week and to take part in the special programs we put on. I sang The Messiah with orchestra for the first time under his direction. I recently discovered that decades later he is still conducting choral music in the Bay Area.
A deep sense of trust in God’s work can help church leaders take their own work less seriously. You know it’s not all about you, and not all up to you. Here are some key benefits to living out of that trust:
1. You realize your strengths are part of the whole
2. You realize your weaknesses will not make it all fall apart.
3. Others will instinctively sense your calm.
4. You can recover more quickly from your mistakes or organizational setbacks.
5. You can have more fun at work, from rehearsals to staff meetings to worship (and so can those you work with).
Of course you want more for your people than is currently true – the best leaders know what their vision for the future is. But they also hold those hopes in an open hand. They don’t get caught up in frustration. They don’t take the setbacks and challenges personally (on a good day, at least). They trust that God is up to something beyond what they can see.
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