If you look at this image closely it is a wordle or word cloud. And in the background it says “NO LIMITS.”
We use positive and affirmative ideologies to promote the concept that a person can be anything they want to be. It is a cornerstone to our way of life.
Really? Are we actually capable of being whatever it is that we want to be?
I didn’t study law in college and graduate school; I haven’t taken and passed the bar exam. I could try to practice law but I would be a rousing failure because I am limited.
I didn’t study music in high school or college. I can sing and from what I have been told by others, fairly well but I wouldn’t dare to stand before a crowd and pretend to be a classically trained artist. I am limited by my lack of focus and training.
But you know what – I am also very strong in other areas of discipline. I have successfully completed a master’s degree in theology and with a better than average GPA. I have read through the Holy Bible multiple times and am very familiar with the overarching theme and select stories it conveys. I have read, contemplated and analyzed historical as well as modern theological concepts and interpretations. And because of this my strength is in my calling to local church leadership.
Last Sunday I talked about limits and the tool that we used to create a commonality was the top ten list. Each person in attendance was asked to list the top 10 things they think their pastor should be doing and it was an individual exercise. That left us with about 120 different lists – yes some of the items where the same and some of them were different but no two lists were exactly the same in content or order.
As a church it is more beneficial if we set early the boundaries. After several years in ministry and the opportunity to enter into a new mission field on more than one occasion, I firmly believe that healthy communication about expectations is better done early than later. If you missed last Sunday here is the quick list of my strengths for ministry – areas you can expect me to be strong in:
1) Pastoral vision and leadership
2) Systems architect
3) Teacher and encourager
I function best in a well-connected team environment giving trust and freedom to each partner to accomplish their part of the mission and vision. I believe in well-rounded teams and systems that invite everyone to use their spiritual gifts in meaningful ministry. I do not believe that one or two people can carry the lion’s share of the load especially in 21st century ministry that is dynamic and complex. In other words I know my limits – I know what I am good at and will be successful at; I also know the things that I would fail at if put in charge or expected to do myself.
I am confident that this cognitively makes sense to all of us – can we put it in practice?
Allow me to suggest a way in which we initiate this in our community. As we grow in love, trust and grace I want us to be constantly asking ourselves this question – “who is best suited to do this (name the task or ministry) for the St. John’s community?”
When it aligns with my gifts and strengths the answer will be “Jim!” But in the many instances where it doesn’t then we need to be taking the next step – inviting the right person to share their gifts and strengths for ministry or we need to be creating the right system or team that will fill the need.
I firmly believe that God has a preferred future in mind for St. John’s and when we all yield our strengths, gifts and talents to God’s mission and vision then we will see that future unfold before our eyes.
So, what are your strengths, gifts and/or talents for God’s work?
If you don’t know them follow this link to take an on-line assessment that will help you understand what God has gifted you for:
If you do know them then what are you doing to use them in your local community of faith?
Not all of us are called to pastoral leadership but all of us are called to God’s ministry. The more of us who are engaged and giving of ourselves to this ministry, the closer we will come to fulfilling not only the expectations that were named on our Top 10 lists, but also the expectations God has for us individually and as a community of faith.
Know your limits and live into your strengths for God’s divine purposes in this world.
Blessings for the journey.