There was a time in your life when someone gave you the opportunity to try what you are currently doing. Maybe they saw a glimmer of hope or maybe you just asked to help, but someone opened the door to messy leadership and allowed you the opportunity to fail. In Tweetable Leadership, Jim Wideman writes, “Most people forget they haven’t always been able to do what they are able to do now. Someone let you sorry all over a group of people and get better. You need to return the favor and believe in others.”
In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” And in the very next verse, Jesus sent out the twelve disciples to begin doing ministry. These disciples might not have appeared fully ready to lead but Jesus uses broken people to fulfill His mission. When you embrace messy leadership, you are giving broken people a chance to answer God’s call on their life. We must give our volunteers the same chance we were given even if, in our eyes, they might not appear ready.
Embrace The Rookie
When the rookie walks up to you and asks how he can begin serving on your team, embrace his eager heart. He might be learning the stories for the first time as he prepares each week, which means he will have fresh insight. He might be nervous to pray for the first time in front of the group, which will remind you how many in the room might be feeling the same fear. And even though the rookie might start out as a door greeter, maybe one day down the road he will be leading this ministry. When a new volunteer begins serving on your team they can help open your eyes to how a visitor experiences church for the first time. Solicit feedback and give the rookie opportunities to shed a fresh perspective on your ministry.
Encourage The Nervous
Most people list public speaking as their number one fear. When someone builds up the courage to take the stage, find ways to praise all the things they did right. Eventually, the nervous worship leader will loosen up and their gifting will shine through. The nervous teacher who becomes too deep and begins saying words like “millennial dispensationalism” may eventually relax and teach so that kindergarteners actually understand. The first time these fears take over don’t criticize or belittle your nervous leader, instead, point out what they did well and give them a few tips on how to improve. Soon, you will have a team of leaders, all functioning within their own gifting, which will allow you to do the things only you can do.
Equip The Busy
Maybe you have a CEO on your team who can only give two hours a week or maybe it’s a teenager who is trying to balance school, sports, and a part time job. When you are trying to equip the busy, things might get messy because your CEO might not lead the way you had in mind and the high schooler might bring a little too much chaos to the small group. Just because people are busy doesn’t mean you don’t have a place for them to use their gifts to build the kingdom. When you equip the busy teammates, you find ways to fit ministry into their schedules. You might need to tweak expectations or communicate in a different mode but when your busy volunteers are equipped they can bring a high level of professionalism or maybe a needed shot of energy into your ministry.
Empower The Unique
When an overzealous rockstar is looking for a place to serve, it might get messy, but you should bring him on your team. This rockstar might be too much for the adult worship service but he might be just what you are looking for with the kids. The class clown might be a distraction in Sunday school but when you put him in a costume and give him a purpose, he might just become the perfect host. And the tech genius who works behind the scenes to make sure things are running smoothly might not ever teach a lesson on the stage, but if you empower him to lead your sound booth you might help him find a great fit for his gifting. When you look at their gifting and give the unique a chance to lead, you can make the church actually look like the full body of Christ.
Jesus is in the business of using messy people to accomplish His great work. Let’s do our part of embracing, encouraging, equipping, and empowering the church to reach the next generation.
Corey Jones is the lead children’s pastor at Southern Hills Christian Church in GA and strives to be an opportunist, learner, and helper. His goal is to live his life for the One who gave him life. To read more from Corey, visit his blog