Once during my apprenticeship, I was responsible for the Sunday meeting (setup, order or service, etc). I’d make sure people knew they were “on”, I made sure people knew what they had to do. It was a little ants nest of activity.
One week I was on holidays. Everything was already prepped, I just wasn’t there. When I got back to work, the first thing I did was call one of the guys who was “on” to make sure everything went ok.
“Yeah, everything was fine… In fact, it was the most relaxed and quick setup ever.”
So, things went better when I wasn’t there…
After chatting this through with a few people, I realised that I had a tendency to lead through anxiety. I can (without meaning to) create a feeling of pressure and urgency when none really exists.
Sure, sometimes there is a pressure situation, sometimes the sense of anxiety is appropriate. But, don’t let that be your operational standard.
Over the past 5 weeks, Richard Sweatman and I have been recording a podcast for GrowthGroup/SmallGroup leaders, with advice on how to helpfully deal with people suffering through mental illnesses in their groups.
It’s a very tricky topic, and I still think one of the best pieces of advice from Richard was that we, as leaders, should ask how someone’s mental illness affects them, rather than assume it’s just like the last person we spoke to. There’s always more to say, but I hope these are helpful. They’re each about 10-12 minutes long, so short enough to listen to on a short trip.
Cast #1 – An important framework for pastoring people with mental illness
Cast #2 – Diving into the mental illness conversation
Cast #3 – Leading people struggling with Depression
Cast #4 – Leading people struggling with Anxiety
Cast #5 – Professional services available for people you lead
Gospel ministry is an exciting pursuit, however there are two sides of the ledge to be wary of.
The first is having such a big dream/vision/aim that you struggle with ever being really content in how God is using you. You might have planned to plant a church, start a non-Christian friendly group, ask that guy along to church. And now that thing isn’t happening you might feel really disgruntled. Doesn’t God know all the effort you put into it!?!
That’s dreaming without contentment.
The other is to be so content with how things are that you don’t ever dream. You don’t get excited about how God could use you in the future, how things might be. You’re just too content with the gospel ministry you’re doing at the moment.
Paul was such a good model of this. Paul was anxious for the Philippians (2:28) — who he told not to be anxious (4:6). Paul dreamed of preaching the gospel when no one else had laid a foundation (Rom 15:20). And he also longed to encourage the brothers in Rome just with his presence (1:11). But he was also content with dying and being with Christ (Phil 1:23).
That’s the key isn’t it? Being so ready and willing to die should give us all a new lease on life… and how we might be able to use it for God.