An expert

Paul has a book called, “How to be the Best at Everything.”

That book’s title is perfect for a life in church ministry. You feel like you need to be pretty good at everything just to survive.

When people would ask me what my job at the church was I would kind of laugh. “We all kind of do a little bit of everything.

There were many days when I’d lead a Bible study for high school students before school, drop them off at school, then shovel the entryway to the church before going inside. Then I’d help with our building project by painting or something like that to start the day, I’d be interrupted by phone calls where I was negotiating our health insurance plan or with another vendor, then dash to a creative planning meeting for Sunday’s service, then lunch with a deacon, oh and another interruption by a parent who was crying and desperate for some counsel about the porn she found on her son’s computer. After the meeting I’d pick up students from school who were helping with our kids ministry and get them started on set design, then I’d work some Photoshop magic and design the week’s bulletin while I waited for the paint to dry for another coat downstairs. After that I’d get started on the lighting set-up for Sunday while brainstorming an idea for a video intro to the message before moving chairs in the sanctuary to set up for a marriage event on Friday evening. Then at 5:00 PM I’d go home for a quick bite of dinner and spend an hour with the kids before our adult small group came over from 6:30-8:30.

No seriously– that was 2 days per week. And that’s not even a Wednesday when I had youth group.

I was a generalist who wore the youth ministry hat just a little bit more than the senior pastor, who wore the preaching hat, or the worship leader who wore that hat. That’s just life in a small church. Everyone wears a lot of hats and does a lot of different things.

I’ll never forget one of my first phone calls with someone about coming to work at Youth Specialties. We were talking and the person said, “Hey, I hear a bit of an echo. Where are you?” I laughed, “Well I’m in our sanctuary. Actually, I’m about 40 feet in the air in some scaffolding. I’m changing the bulb on the projector.

That’s why I laugh, sometimes audibly, when people refer to me as an expert at something.

Sure, I’m pretty good at some things. But in my heart I’ll always be a generalist trying to figure out how to be the best at everything.





3 responses to “An expert”

  1. benjamin kerns Avatar

    being a generalist is not only important in a small church, but vital in a larger church. many youth workers who have the seeming luxury of being a specialist, only students, only media, only speaking, only whatever, often miss out on the true blessing of leadership, serving.

    we forget that student ministry is still ministry in the kingdom of god and that it is an upside down economy. being served and only working at and caring for one small piece of the ministry pie satisfies our desire for status, but misses our true calling. the calling of jesus where a teacher is not above their students.

    i love the mental picture of you changing the lightbulb in the projector. YES PLEASE! i know my slant was not your main point, but i was non the less greatly encouraged by it. thanks adam.

  2. adam mclane Avatar

    @ben- absolutely. I shudder at all the leadership talk about how you need to be the leader and that is somehow manifested by people serving you. It seems to me that people talk a good game about servant leadership… but don’t aspire to it one bit.

  3. Phil S Avatar
    Phil S

    While I agree that we need to be flexible and serve in a variety of ways I would also say that just because it’s easier for us to do something ourselves doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cast other people to serve.

    It’s never about people serving you. It’s about people serving God and his church and the community.

    I don’t need to install new programs on all the computers if we have servants who are gifted in technology. I don’t need to cook the funeral dinner food if we have women who love serving families in a difficult moment in life. I don’t need to do the church landscaping if we have expert gardeners.

    I could easily do all these (and have), but aren’t we getting in the way if we dont let others, or at the very least do it together (especially if we’re talking teenagers (time to talk and time to lead))?

    Aren’t we supposed to do what we’re best at so we can get out of the way for others to do what they’re best at?

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