“What would it be like if you added one word to your stated ministry goal to multiply home groups?”
“What is the word?” he asked.
“Sustainable” I ventured. “To multiply sustainable home groups. Or,” I continued, “To multiply relationally healthy home groups” or “To multiply soul rested home groups.”
We sped down the highway. I stared out windows. I saw myself in the disconnect I was about to try and put words to. He had just praised God for success. His team had seen three home groups multiply into nine in less than a year. But earlier in our conversation, this faithful pastor had also spoken to me of his exhaustion. He talked about how he and his team were both wore out. He even wondered at times, like we all do, whether or not he should or could continue at this pace or in ministry at all.
“Ok,” he said as a question. “What do you have in mind?”
Reconnecting Work and Soul Success
“Well, as your friend, I can hear you say on the one hand how thankful you are for the success of your ministry goal and on the contrary that you are terribly fatigued and sometimes wonder whether or not you should even be in ministry. I’m asking you to consider seeing those two sentences as part of the same conversation.”
We stared out windows. Urban winds were blowing our hair from a window down and a foot on the gas pedal.
“At the moment you define success in such a way that you overlook the team’s health as part of your success matrix or measurement,” I offered. “You can announce success without having to take into account your sense of soul as a leader. What if you changed that?”
“What would that mean,” he asked.
Slowing Down in order to Accelerate
“I don’t know,” I said. “Your team will know best. But I imagine it will look something like this. (1) It will take you 15 months rather than 12 to multiply from 3 to 9 groups. (2) But you will reach your multiplication goal and at the same time still have a vibrant, energized team, with no turnover in leadership. (3), Forty years from now, no one will care that it took 15 rather than 12 months to go from 3 to 9 groups and (4) Because you and your team didn’t burn out you will have years of stories and memories together of all the things God did.”
He paused and thought.
“I know how to measure a movement from 3 to 9” he reflected. “But how do you measure the parallel soul care of the team who is managing that movement from 3 to 9?”
We nodded our heads but didn’t speak. We just sat there speeding along, still a long way from our destination.
“I’m not fully sure, but I do know this,” I offered.
- We’d want to know if our team was having one full 24 hour day off in seven.
- We’d want to know if our team was at home most nights after an 8 or 9 hour work day.
- We’d want to know if and how the four portions of a day were at work in their lives.
- We’d want to know they had room in their day to reflect, create, process.
“In other words, we’d want to know that the vigorous and passionate work of our team was rooted in strategic rest.”
“We’d want those who want to join house groups to encounter this same Biblical assumption.”
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
he must use more strength,
but wisdom helps one to succeed. (ESV)