Give up. Walk away. Look for greener pastures. For many of us, it’s the typical response when the reality of ministry differs greatly from the expectations we had when we took the job. When I reconnect with former classmates from Bible college, and ask them if they are still in their place of ministry, they reluctantly tell me they have since moved on to a couple of destinations in search of the utopia of youth ministry-only to never be satisfied. When probing for the deeper reason they left, I’ve found many of them were expecting one type of scenario only to be handed something entirely different.
Which brings up a subject each one of us in leadership has to address-when your expectation quickly turns into disappointment, and how we as leaders can evaluate and anticipate any situation we face. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when heading into a new ministry setting.
1. Know Your Expectation
Every one of us had an expectation or idea of what the ministry setting would be like when we arrived on the scene. We concluded, due to different interviews and conversations, that there was a certain vision of the church, unity among the staff, and general support for what we were going to try to accomplish. When those expectations are not met, many of us go into “setting-shock”. We have a hard time accepting that what we were expecting to walk into and the scenario that actually exists are two different environments. It is at this moment we begin to scramble for ideas and suggestions on what to do.
With that in mind let me ask a question, “Is it wrong to have an expectation when walking into a ministry setting?” Should we simply accept what’s there for the sake of building His kingdom, or is there a reasonable expectancy we can have when accepting a ministry position?
2. Remember Your Vision
The greatest aspect about your vision is it keeps you focused not just for the tasks at hand, but for the long haul. Revisit the times you spent in prayer asking God to shape your heart for ministry. Remember you don’t have to adjust your vision based on the failed expectation, but what you do have to adjust is your communication.
3. Success Comes From Communication
I’m sure we have all made the comment, “relationships cannot exist without communication.” Working in a church environment is no different. In fact, it’s more crucial to have solid communication among the staff than in any other profession due to the fact we are responsible for the souls of individuals. When your expectation and the reality of the situation don’t match up, you must begin to communicate your vision. In fact, vision communication should have taken place in the interview process, but now more than ever the vision must be communicated in order for there to be restoration.
I can go back to one of my experiences in ministry when what I thought was going to happen (expectation) was the opposite of what was really there (realization), and how it was going to slow down or greatly hinder what I wanted to accomplish (vision). It was at that moment when I was confronted with a couple of options. I could (1) leave, (2) sulk, or (3) embark on the vision with upfront communication.
Needless to say, when the channels of communication were opened, not only did the leadership learn a tremendous amount about my heart, but I also learned a tremendous lesson about theirs. And that’s when pure restoration takes place and the vision can become reality.