We come from different walks of life, from different parts of the country, and from around the world. We represent every race and we are diverse in age. Some of us are brand new in this endeavor and some have devoted multiple decades of their lives. We are the leaders of Christian ministries.
Some of us experienced a “road to Damascus” calling while others heard the quiet voice that was not in the wind, the fire, or the earthquake. And for some of us God was whispering for many years before we were able – or our hearts were ready – to hear it. But one way or another, God has called men and women to step up and lead ministries.
My journey took me longer to get here (I’ll share more of my story another time). And when I stepped into the role as President of Missions Development International 15 months ago, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. At the same time, I knew that God was going to do His work in and through me in ways I could not anticipate. Over this first year (plus), the Lord has indeed taught me a lot. When it comes to leading a Christian ministry, I can summarize it with three thoughts.
Ministry leadership is hard
While God has called and equipped us for leadership, and He has promised to be always with us, He did not say that it would be easy. As the cliché says, if it was easy – everyone would do it. We pour ourselves into our ministry. We devote long hours to making sure all the pieces are working. We pray and ask for guidance, help, and provision. All these elements can take their toll on us physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. And because we carry all these burdens, so often we become isolated and/or alone.
We are not designed to go it alone
God created us to be in alignment – both vertically and horizontally. First and always, we must be in relationship with Him. We must seek His face, His presence, to abide in Him. But we are also made to be in relationship with one another. Moses relied on Aaron and Hur to support him when he had to hold his hands in the air to ensure victory in the battle. Paul had partners in all his missionary journeys and work in spreading the Gospel and planting churches. And even Jesus relied on the twelve – and even more so with his “inner-three” of Peter, James and John. Each of these leaders (and MANY others throughout the Bible) felt the weight of ministry and had others alongside him to share about the struggles and celebrate the triumphs. We are made to serve with others.
When we are “real” in relationship, God does transformational work
When you drop your guard and share what is really going on in your heart with people you trust and who care about you, God will honor your vulnerability and do amazing work in you. By walking in relationships and opening your heart to the transformation that He wants to do in you, we are able thrive as leaders. This is where God has called you to live. This is the posture where He wants you to serve. Yes, ministry is hard; people are messy. But in the midst of this life – true life – God shows up and His Spirit flows in and through us. This thriving, flourishing, abundantly living is what we are made for.
To see ministry leaders thrive is why Missions Development International exists. Within the DNA of our ministry is a heart to be a place where leaders find a team of mentor/consultants who care about them and what God has called you to be. For those leaders who don’t have a safe place, we want to walk alongside you and allow you to put down your mask and unpack what is going on in your heart. This is where transformation takes place and God brings you to another level of life in Christ.
Along the way we will help with organizational issues you may be dealing with. Things like developing your Board to serve better/stronger, putting together a solid plan for your fundraising/development, transitioning from a founder to the new executive in charge, crafting a plan to take you strategically into the future – and many more. But being a safe place for God to work on your heart – to see you thrive – is why we serve.
When a leader is thriving, he/she is positioned to serve and lead to his/her fullest potential. The impact of this is a growing and vibrant walk with the Lord, a healthy marriage, staff who are valued and understood, and programs that are meeting needs and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In addition to relationships, MDI is called to help equip you for ministry. As Missions Development International launches our new website, it is intended to serve leaders with tools that help you to grow. We will be continually developing and refining the resources offered here in an effort to be a key part of your development – professionally, personally, and spiritually. Please let us know what’s useful and what you would like us to share.
Remember, He wants you to thrive! “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)