by Todd Moritz
OK … a bit of honesty as I begin. There was LOTS I learned in ministry. And I am still learning. And many of the things I have learned I am still relearning. I am far from perfect and have a LONG way to go. But here are a few nuggets that made a profound difference over the years.
1. It is all about people. Duh. We analytically get that, but it is way too easy to get into production mode. Maybe it is the next teaching series, a new curriculum or the latest funding request. Many times in the midst of busyness, I missed the people right in front of my eyes.
Keep your door open unless you are in a very confidential meeting. Walk the halls during passing periods. Hang out with staff. Go to the parking lot and engage in the conversation.
Jesus did not die for ministry. He died for people. His mission was to seek and save that which was lost … and that should be our mission too (Luke 19:10).
2. Challenge people to volunteer. God’s people are wired to serve. They are commanded to do so and in volunteering they meet great people and grow in their faith. Too many times we have a need, but fail to ask people to step up and help. “Leave it to the professionals” I hear all too often in high schools.
I once had a volunteer who provided expertise in a financial matter. He took the place of a consulting firm where we were ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars. He loved the experience and thanked me for the opportunity. Years later he became chairman of the congregation.
I personally was asked to be on a budget committee of my congregation when I was just twenty-two years old. Sixteen years later I resigned my corporate position and went to work full time for the church. I often wonder what would happen if that one person didn’t encourage me to serve (1 John 3:18).
3. Ask people for financial support. I think we often get it wrong. We try to engage people in our churches or schools. We hope they have a good experience and maybe we press them into some sort of light service. But when it comes to asking for a financial commitment (above and beyond the tithe), we hesitate. Jesus said “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). In other words, get their financial commitment and the rest of them will be sure to follow.
I will never forget the first large financial commitment I received. After making a not so specific ask for a capital campaign, the donor committed to $200,000. I was floored. When I picked up the check he said, “Isn’t it amazing that I have this much money and can actually give it away?” It is in giving that we receive (Prov. 11:24-25). Don’t withhold that blessing from your people. Ask them to support your ministry.
4. Faithfully support your leader. Whoever we work “for,” whether it is a board or an individual, we will occasionally have disagreements. That is OK and natural. We are charged to give our best and greatest advice, but that doesn’t mean we are always right. If you and your leaders see things differently, that is okay. Remember that God put these individuals in charge. Express your opinion and unless their behavior is sinful, joyfully support their direction.
I will never forget the strong bond of friendship that I had with a ministry leader. We occasionally disagreed. I would go into his office, express my opinion, and argue through the details. But finally, he was the one God called to make the decision. Satan would love for leaders in ministry to publicly disagree (Psalm 133:1).
5. Let go of outcomes. I admit it. I am a control freak. This is no surprise to anyone who has worked with me. But controlling each and every detail is not productive or helpful. We want a bottom-up organization—one where everyone offers their best and greatest advice. Too often I would have my plans all figured out, and I spent most of my time trying to get others to support them.
When you let go of control, God will often allow something better than you ever thought of to emerge. I remember telling my team that I wanted our school to not only be college prep, but life prep. Over the years that concept morphed and changed through some really great thinking. Today the school is known nationally for “redefining the high school experience.”
You hired good people. Let them help in the leading. Follow Jesus’ example of being a servant leader (Matt. 20:25-28).
is the Director of Strategy and Donor Engagement for PLI (www.plilieadership.org). Previously he spent ten years as the CEO of large high schools and eleven years as the Executive Director of a large church. He lives in Montana, spends lots of time with his kids and grandkids and travels extensively. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.