Thursday, December 09, 2010

Finding your sweet spot in ministry

I spent Wednesday with my UCCF colleagues being trained by James Lawrence from CPAS. It was a provoking day to think about how to help people find their ministry 'sweet spot'.
"A sweet spot is a place, often numerical as opposed to physical, where a combination of factors suggest a particularly suitable solution." (Wikipedia)
James kept us first focussed on the nature of Christian leadership as grace-founded servant heartedness rather than having to be an alpha-male personality.

He helped us think how various tools can help us to see who we are and how we might best do the things that we're made to do. We were given us a matrix to think about ourselves as leaders as a combination of innate talent (developed before adulthood), spiritual gifts neither of which we can do much about, then skills and knowledge which we can do things about, shaped by our temperament and our passions which shape the style and context of ministry. Fit these together and we're at our sweet spot for ministry, which is likely to be energising. I'm looking forward to following some of the leads he's given us, especially to think through our 'talents'.

As I think about my desire to train leaders, to strategise for mission, to see Christians discover freedom in Christ this excites me. Certainly I feel most alive when I'm doing those things - but do I have the skills and knowledge to excel in that? Are there other things I might better employ my energy in? Are there gifts I'm neglecting or which are under-developed - what about evangelism and prophecy, two gifts I'm pursuing at the moment?

All of this sits in a context where we all have to operate outside of our sweet-spot sometimes, and none of us can do everything ourselves which is why we need to operate in team contexts. We're pointed to some Gallup research of talents which identifies 32 talents, 20 of which relate to leadership - and yet the very best leaders only have about 12/20 of the leadership talents (and an average leader only 4) - team has to be the way forward!

He also gave us some useful thinking about how to deal with weaknesses, limitations and flaws - which again all of us have to live with. I want to be playing the best part I can to build the body, I want my team able to do that, I want our church to be operating effectively - to grow the church and bless our city. I want my home group doing that, I want to see students released for that. Character and convictions are key but there is more to think on too. 

As an aside, I found James to be an excellent trainer and felt myself learning from his content and his methodology and attention to detail.


  1. Quite a nice way to think about things. I like it.

    ...although I do tend to think that too often leaders think about what they are good at/called to and try and fit their ministry around themselves. Perhaps it would be better to think what the NEED is and then seek to meet that need, even if you don't have the skills, passion etc - trusting that God will use the weak for his glory.

    I.e. do we fit ministry around the ministers or do we fit ministry around those ministered to?

  2. James was very keen to push that angle - there are needs, we do have to do things we don't like and aren't good at. There is possibly a prevailing attitude of if it makes you miserable and you're rubbish at it then you should rejoice that God will get glory in your uselessness, when we are also talking about the God who made and wired us as we are - and might have given us both gifts and talents that we could use fruitfully for his glory.

    He defined weakness a bit differently - not as the opposite of strength. In terms of things effected by our infirmity, our ordinariness and our character flaws. Yet, there are times when we would be better off playing to our strengths (the things we can do and which really energise us) not least because with a 'body' mentality - others can play other parts better than we can.

    So, yes certain things have to be done - and we can find strategies to manage our weaknesses, to deal with our character flaws... which might be to grow in a skill even though doing the thing drains the life out of us, but knowing its necessary. But - the answer might also be, there is someone else in the body who could do this better who I should partner with, or in some cases I'm not in the role I should be in...

  3. That's all good and I agree. True though it is though I think it can be used as an comfortable excuse ("God called me to serve my rich middle class friends, and has gifted me to do just that"). We are a body, all of us are ministers and (I need to remind myself of this especially) God is sovereign so we don't have to do everything, so it is good to be bold in encouraging the gifted to use their gifts when they may do a better job than you, or even leave something undone at times. But the driving force shouldn't be what is best for ME, but what is best for MY BROTHER/NEIGHBOUR. Obviously, if there is someone who will joyfully and skilfully meet a need we should encourage them to meet it rather than do so ourselves because they will do it better. But if there isn't that person then God has placed us in there whether we like it or not. Not because we want to be miserable, or that feeling useless is a good thing, but because we God will bring us to greater joy and comfort exactly through that discomfort. Basically 2 Corinthians!

    Sorry, I don't mean to be overly negative on your post, or on what James said because I do agree with everything. Just want to slightly change the emphasis.

  4. PS sorry for the usual typos too (although I guess you're used to my poorly edited comments by now).

  5. PPS hope, and hastily pray, the weekend is fruitful for you and the students.

  6. I will write more when I've done some of the exercises James recommended, but rest assured he's driving hard against the excuses we use - major emphasis on servant heartedness and Christ-focus, not to avoid difficulty or uncomfortable situations, but to say - am I contributing what I can best.

    Weekend was very encouraging.