Fish out of water

Fish out of water

In honor of Independence Day, this week’s posts will have to do with the concept of freedom in ministry. This post is the second installment.

While most ministers do want significant freedom in ministry, some do not. These ministers are typically gifted more as “doers” or “implementors” than leaders. God can use all kinds of ministers. However, having a doer in a leader’s role, or a leader in a doer’s role is where things get weird. This mismatch often occurs when either the minister or the elders/board portray themselves as something they aren’t in the interview process. Sometimes they actually believe they are what they say they are–because that is what they wish they were–not what they are (I had to read that sentence several times as well 🙂

Many of my friends who left ministry altogether left because they were wired as leaders and went from one high-control system to the next. They found no place for their gifts in those church systems. Some stayed too long, and frustrated the ministry right out of themselves. Others simply felt like a polar bear in Arizona–that ministry was the wrong habitat for them altogether. Some have stayed in high-control environments and are in a current state of frustrated misery.

Some (and only some) leaders who choose to serve in high-control environments for a long time:

  • Are “doers” rather than “leaders” –thus, they don’t need freedom because they aren’t attempting ministry with broad scope. They are serving to implement the directional leadership of someone else. While a topic for another post, hiring “doers” rather than “leaders” as Senior Ministers will generally hamper a church’s progress and the fruitfulness of the Body at large. “Doers” are indispensable to a church’s ministry. However, it’s vital the church not try to make them something they aren’t.
  • Feel they couldn’t find a comparable “job” elsewhere. This isn’t good for a host of reasons.
  • Lack the courage to leave.
  • Are ministerially lazy. They enjoy the lack of freedom because of the lack of responsibility that goes with it. Although, most leaders aren’t in fact lazy. They are usually motivated intrinsically–their goal is to see the church prevail. Thus, their vice tends to be workaholism rather than laziness.
  • They come to believe all ministers should submit their leadership gifts to the control impulses of the leadership around them–based on an unbiblical view of elders as popes rather than shepherds of God’s flock.
  • They stop trying to lead because they believe only elders/board members are gifted in that way. This belief doesn’t match with the Bible’s teaching on spiritual gifts.

There are other reasons, but these are the dominant reasons I’ve observed over the years. The primary reason the Church should care is because leadership is a precious resource to the Church. Neither the minister nor the church should squander it.