Is Your Pastor A Private Detective?

Accountability is something we often want from others, but we rarely want to give to others.

On a ministry team, accountability is crucial for things to run smoothly.

We understand this when it comes to those who are under us in the organization, but we don’t always treat it with the same respect when it comes to our OWN accountability.

I made a decision long ago to have a habit of offering accountability instead of forcing my pastor to require it. I don’t know of any senior pastor who enjoys going into private detective mode and tracking down any member of his staff to check on him or confront him when there’s a problem. In my relationship with my pastor, I have determined to offer accountability instead of forcing him to demand it from me.

When I came to my church, my pastor asked me to email him any time I had a problem of any kind that needed his attention.  In my pride and self-protection, I didn’t want to admit that I had any problems (at all), so I didn’t send him any emails about needs or difficulties. One day, he found out about an incident in the Kids Ministry.  He was perplexed to hear about it from someone besides me.  When he called me into his office, he had to be an investigator trying to find out what happened instead of a partner helping to resolve it.  My silence had forced him into this role.

Don’t make your pastor go into “private investigator” mode and have to poke and prod you for answers.  Take the initiative to tell him anytime there’s a problem he needs to know about.  When you’re going to be late, call.  When something goes wrong, tell him.  When there’s a problem that’s going to affect other ministries, give him a heads up.

What are some practical ways you can OFFER accountability to your lead pastor?

The Forgotten Value Of Asking Questions

I have observed over the years many Kidmin Leaders make the mistake of “arriving” in ministry.  They achieve a certain level of “success” and decide they know it all (or at least all they care to know).

When this happens, they move into protectionism.  They are constantly trying to protect their reputation as a “knowledgeable and capable leader.”  I have watched as these leaders begin to sink because they are not willing to do something that could help them keep rising in leadership – ASK QUESTIONS.

Admitting you don’t know it all and asking others for their input is difficult for insecure leaders.  Sadly, you miss out on incredible opportunities to continue growing when you fail to ask questions.  Here are some of the questions I ask and the people I ask them to:

My Pastor/Boss
*  Is there anything I am not doing in ministry that you would like to see me begin doing?
*  Is there anything I AM doing in ministry that you would like to see me STOP doing?
*  Is there any area of growth in my life that you see needs to be addressed?
*  What can I do to serve you better?
*  What can I do to serve my team better?
*  What is the biggest challenge you face in leading me?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

My Team
*  What is the biggest challenge you find in having me as a leader?
*  What is the biggest thing you appreciate about my leadership?
*  What is one thing I can do NOW to help you grow personally?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

The Parents In My Ministry
*  What are the ways we can serve you better as a parent?
*  What is the thing we do BEST as a ministry?
*  What is the area we most need to IMPROVE?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

Take some time in the coming weeks and meet with your pastor, team members, and a group of parents in your ministry.  Ask some of these questions (and avoid the tendency to have a rebuttal to their answers – after all, the goal is to GAIN KNOWLEDGE, not prove them wrong).  They will be impressed with your desire to grow.  And, you just might gain some information you were not aware of that may take your ministry effectiveness to the next level.

What are some questions you ask yourself, your pastor, your team, and your parents?  Share them in the comments section!

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Sometimes, we exaggerate the good things to look a little better to impress people, and we downplay the bad things so we don’t look so foolish.  Both of these are, in fact, lies. Partial truths are also partial lies, designed to “save face” by giving enough truth to avoid outright lying but not enough to expose our stupidity and sin.  Tell the truth—the whole truth, the first time.  It saves a world of trouble.

I scheduled a meeting with one of our team members for 10:00 in the morning.  At ten minutes past that time, he wasn’t there, so I called him.  He said, “I’m on my way.  Be there in a sec.”

I could hear his television in the background, so I knew he was still in his apartment.  When he arrived, I asked him about it.  He explained, “I’d forgotten about our meeting.  When I saw your name on the caller ID, I started walking toward the door as I answered.  So, technically, I was on my way.”  His answer didn’t do a lot to build trust in our relationship.

One of my Kids Ministry leaders was supposed to make a bunch of phone calls for me. After a few days, I asked, “How are those phone calls coming?”

She replied, “I haven’t talked to everyone yet.”

When I pressed her on it, she admitted she hadn’t tried to call anyone.  She tried to convince me she’d told the truth that she hadn’t “talked to everyone yet,” but I carefully explained that her statement was purposely misleading.

In our relationships, we need to tell the whole truth the first time.  After all, some people have the same habit that my pastor does.  He’ll ask questions that he already knows the answers to in order to determine if you’re telling the whole truth or not.  It’s a lot better to tell the truth than to develop the reputation of being a liar.  That doesn’t represent our Lord Jesus Christ well – not at all.

How To Avoid Kidmin Tunnel Vision

In my previous post, I shared the dangers of Kidmin Tunnel Vision.  This is when you get so laser focused on Kids Ministry that you fail to keep the BIG picture of the WHOLE church in mind.  Today, I want to share how you can avoid falling into this trap!

It’s not enough to sit back and expect your pastor or other staff members to make sure you’re vitally connected with the entire scope of the church’s life.  That’s your responsibility.  Here are some steps you can take to Avoid Kidmin Tunnel Vision:

1)  Read every available piece of information. – Make it a weekly practice to read the bulletin, newsletters, articles on the website, and anything else that tells what the church is doing.

2)  Ask questions. – If you’re unsure about an upcoming event, a strategy, or any other plan, take the initiative to get an answer to your questions.

3)  Watch or listen to the Sunday morning service. – Most churches record the pastor’s sermon each week. If you can’t attend the service (and most of the time you can’t), make it a priority to listen to the message sometime during the week.  It will keep you connected to the pastor and to the heartbeat of the church.

4)  Pay attention in staff meetings. – Shut down Twitter, Facebook, and your web browser.  You are getting the info you need if you will just LISTEN and document it.

5)  Regularly pray for your pastor and other department leaders. – This choice has made a huge difference in my perspective, my attitude, and my relationships with each person on the team.  They’ve told me the greatest challenges they face in their ministries, and I found out their joys and struggles in their families.  My commitment to pray for them has kept me connected and prevented me from becoming focused only on Kids Ministry.

So, don’t hesitate.  Choose NOW to start these five habits.  They will keep you from falling into the trap of Kidmin Tunnel Vision, and you will stay vitally connected to your pastor and entire team.

Do You Suffer From Kidmin “Tunnel Vision?”

I will never forget the Staff Meeting where I confronted my Pastor about why I wasn’t made aware of the big Missions opportunity that the rest of the staff seemed to already know about.  I let him know how upset I was that “those of us who are in Children’s Ministry and aren’t able to be in the Sanctuary on Sundays shouldn’t be kept in the dark.

My pastor kindly asked me, “Brian, did you not read the bulletin the last few weeks?”  I had not.  “Did you read the letter I sent home to every household in our church?”  I did not.  “Have you paid attention in Staff Meeting the last few weeks as we have been talking about it?”  I had not.  I had made the mistake of deciding, “If it isn’t directly related to Kids Ministry, I don’t really need to pay attention to it.”

I made a classic blunder:  “Having Tunnel Vision and Missing The BIG Picture.”

Turns out it wasn’t my pastors fault I didn’t know about the opportunity.  It was my own.

In kids’ ministries, we need to recognize the symptoms of tunnel vision.  If we don’t, we may suffer severe consequences.

Dangers Of Kidmin Tunnel Vision:

1)  We develop a territorial spirit.

2)  We develop a “poor me” mentality

3)  We infect the rest of our Kidmin team.

4)  We fail to support (and may even compete with) the pastor’s vision.

5)  We fail to communicate key information to parents and team members.

Tunnel vision isn’t just an inconvenience.  It’s an acid that eats away at everything good, right, noble, and pure in a leader’s heart, a team’s life, and a ministry’s impact.  Want to beat it?  Want to avoid Kidmin Tunnel Vision?  Next week, I will share “How To Avoid Tunnel Vision.”

Should I Tell My Lead Pastor About This?

“Should I tell my Lead Pastor About This NOW or LATER?”

It’s a question that most staff members struggle with.  “When is the right time to share information with my Lead Pastor?”  Naturally, you don’t want to be a pest and “bother” him.  At the same time, you don’t want to hold onto information that may be vital to the church for a long time and deprive him of the opportunity to respond in an appropriate way in the appropriate time.

Here is a good list to follow when deciding “Should I tell my Lead Pastor About This NOW or LATER?” that my pastor shared with us.

Report to Lead Pastor NOW (phone call or face to face) if…

1)    Someone in the church is angry or upset (he doesn’t want to be blindsided and not be prepared for it)

2)    If you made a critical mistake (leadership, judgement error, etc.)

3)    If someone is facing a crisis or emergency

4)    If it affects the Sunday Morning (main) service (whether today is Monday or Saturday, doesn’t matter)

5)    If it is a sin issue in the leadership team

6)    If it is a “significant” financial issue (the term “significant” varies with each Lead Pastor)

7)    If a crucial judgement call is required (don’t just guess on what your Lead Pastor would do, ask him)

8)  Hospital/Death/Birth (these are significant life moments your pastor wants to be part of)

9)  If an important event has a major change

10) If YOU have a significant family crisis

11) If he receives a phone call or visit from someone of importance

12) If it’s a liability issue that could negatively affect the church

Save it for later (e-mail, staff meeting, or in-person) if…

1)    No action can be taken right now

2)    He won’t end up hearing it from anyone else

3)    It doesn’t affect the upcoming service or event

4)    You have dealt with it completely with no chance of negative consequences

5)    It is “regular” business (approving someone for ministry, calendar decisions, general updates)

6)    If the information can be shared in a meeting setting (with others present)

7)    If you are merely reporting facts (FYI)

8)    If the decision falls within your discretionary authority

9) When the lack of information won’t hurt them

10) If it’s a personal issue, but non-emergency

11) If you disagree with a leadership decision they have made

What do you think?  Would you add or take away any from these lists?  Share your comments in the comments section.

Stop Being So Defensive!

Defensiveness is an issue that causes a lot of harm in mentoring relationships – or any relationship for that matter.  When we are challenged, confronted, or questioned as Kidmin leaders – sadly we often respond with a knee-jerk, reflex response that does more harm than good.

For years, my insecurity caused me to struggle with being defensive.  Under the hurt feelings and protests is a deep sense that I’m not adequate, personally or professionally—or both.  No one is above correction, and we can all learn to handle it with grace.  Sometimes, I do a pretty good job of controlling my outward appearance when someone criticizes me, but I’m dying inside.  When this happens with my pastor, his perception kicks in.  He tells me, “You’re doing a great job in controlling the tone of your voice and looking relaxed while you’re still being defensive.”

He nailed me.  When I bristle from correction, I need to look into my heart to see what I’m trusting in.  I can then choose to thank God for his love and grace, and I can accept the correction as a gift instead of a threat.

Here’s the principle: When your actions are corrected, it doesn’t mean your character is being questioned.  Chill out and learn from the challenge instead of defending yourself to the death!