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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Leadership (03/14/05)

TITLE: Programmed For Success
By Bob Zoellner


Setting down his bible on the table, Barry got up and walked over to the ringing phone on his desk.

"Hello, this is Pastor Walker."

"Pastor Walker, hey, this is Josh Peters."

"Josh, my friend, what a pleasant surprise. How are you?"

"I'm o.k. I guess. I was wondering if you had a few minutes?"

Barry Walker had been the pastor at Springboro Christian Center for 20 years, seeing the small church blossom into what some may call a mega-church, at least by Springboro's standards. Joshua Peters had been one of the young people that had come to know the Lord through the ministry of SCC, eventually called into full-time service himself. While Pastor Walker knew him well, it had been a while since they had spoken.

"Of course Josh, what's on your mind?"

"Well, actually, I'm beginning to question this so-called call on my life. In fact, I'm thinking of getting out of the ministry."

"Wow, I didn't see that coming. What's going on?"

"I can't do this anymore. I'm struggling to keep my sanity, and with all the programs we have going on, I don't think I'm going to last. I rarely see my family any more, I feel tired all the time, and really, I don't get much joy out of what I'm doing. It's like I just try to get through the current event or meeting and then onto the next. I'm burned out."

"Josh, why did you go into the ministry?"

He thought for a minute before responding; it had been a while since anyone had asked him that.

"I wanted to serve God with all my heart and soul and mind, and I felt the Lord had called me into a leadership role within the church."

"All right, so how you doing with that?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if you were succeeding as a leader, would you be feeling like you're feeling right now?"

"Are you saying that leaders don't get burned out, that they don't feel like quitting sometimes?"

"It sounds like you are past that point. I have a feeling you've already typed up your resignation letter."

Josh got deathly quiet on the other end of the line. How on earth did Pastor Walker know that? "Josh, what's more important, people or programs?"

"Why, people of course! That's what the ministry is all about."

"So, when's the last time you've really connected with your people?"

"I'm not sure. I don't know how I could add anything else to my overloaded schedule."

Pastor Walker remained silent. Josh waited for the sympathy, or at least some words of encouragement. They never came.

"Josh, I hope you don't feel like I'm preaching at you, but let's take a quick look at how Jesus handled his ministry while here on earth." He grabbed his bible, turning it to John 13:5 and read the verse to Josh. "After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."

"Do you remember that passage, Josh?"

"Yeah, I do. Jesus was with his disciples for a meal, and wanted to show them servant leadership. He was all about relationship, and wanted to show how much he loved them."

"Josh, I would simply tell you to take an honest look at all you are doing, and get rid of anything that exists just to exist. I think you know what I mean. Begin to pour your time and energy into your key people, and train them to do the work of the ministry. Eventually, you may bring back some programs but you won't be killing yourself trying to keep them going. You will have poured your energy and life into people who share your vision."

"Sort of what Christ did with the twelve? His main focus was on his disciples, and look what they in turn did after his resurrection, after the day of Pentecost?"

"Exactly. Leadership isn't about how many plates you can keep spinning. Build relationships, let people see your heart. When they buy into what you are doing, you'll see them blossom into the servants God has called them to be. You won't burn yourself out by trying to do it all yourself."

"Pastor Walker, thank you. I should have seen this myself. That's what you have done at SCC. You have given me a lot to think about."

"Good. Now Josh, just one more thing."


"Tear up that resignation."

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Member Comments
Member Date
Kathy Bruins03/21/05
It's so true the leaders in ministry forget the main reason they got into ministry...people. Often the focus is on the programs rather than the people. It's all about relationships. Thank you!
Criss Bertling03/22/05
I work in full-time ministry - your article was a great reminder of why we do what we do. Thank you.
Dixie Phillips03/23/05
Loved the concern for the individual! I'm a pastor's wife and that's what it is all about!
donna robinson03/26/05
Learning to delegate, to get rid of the excess is one of the hardest parts of leadership, whether church or corporate bound. Great insight here and entertainly written.
Deborah Porter 07/12/05
Wow Bob! This was one of those Challenge entries that sort of slipped into the background because it didn't place in the challenge. But honestly, this was such wisdom and what a word in season for so many people in ministry today. Well done Bob! With love, Deb
Nathan Reedy07/25/05
I run a couple prayer ministries. I totally agree! The best way I find to get people to come is to invite one on one. Get to know the person. It's easier to get people involved if they have a connection, a trust with the leader. The trouble is getting to know so many people. The hard part is finding someone that YOU have a trust in to go and recruit or invite more people.
Phyllis Inniss07/29/05
Good leadership truly programmes one for success. Your article was clear and definitely made its point.