Jim Collins in his best seller, Good to Great, states that one of the vital practices required to be great is “who” must come before “what.” The way he puts it is that you must get the right people on the bus and in the right seats before you pull out and starting driving down the road.
I can agree with this in principle, but in practice it is not always possible—especially in an organization (like a church) that is run mostly by volunteers. Most pastors are dealing with just getting people on the bus—anyone!
Matter of fact, that is the pastor’s job—to get the weak, foolish, base, and despised on the bus (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). The typical pastor has to work with a team that would make a CEO of an average corporation blanch, more less a CEO of a great corporation! And that is a good thing because that is our job.
So, here some advice, when trying to do great things with misfits, outcast, and very average people:
- To get people on the bus, first determine and announce boldly where you’re going (a great vision brings out the greatness in ordinary people). Most churches get bogged down, not because they need better people, but because they have bored people.
- Start driving with a mostly empty bus. In other words, do something! If you are following God’s vision for your life and ministry, he will have people along the way waiting to get on the bus. You pave the road ahead with steps of faith. If you’ve got to have your bus full of the right people, your bank account full enough money, and your bus being the newest model before you head out, you will probably never get out of the parking lot. Stop making excuses, stopping feeling bad and afraid because of what and who you do not have, and start rolling with what you’ve got.
- Use who you have. Instead of a restaurant owner, you may get a boy with only a small bag lunch. Instead of a rich banker, you may get broke beggar. Instead of a business man you may get a fisherman. But that’s okay. God can do amazing things with very unamazing people.
- Celebrate glorifying God, not greatness, as the goal. A very ordinary person doing their best for the glory of God will have more impact (long term) than a very talented person who has the wrong motives. You are not putting on a show, you’re conducting a service (service to God). By all means, go for anointed excellence. But if you can only have one of the two…go with the anointing.
- Trust the process that Jesus used: first sinners (Luke 5:8), who become disciples-in-process (Matthew 5:1), and finally, pick out a few apostles to hand the ministry off to (Luke 6:13). In other words, give everyone—even sinners something to do. (Use wisdom, but sinners will often be some of your most faithful workers and contributors. For example, they are usually better “evangelist” for inviting people to church, they know more sinners than your saints.)
If you’ve been in the ministry very long, you know all this but I remind you because it is much harder to do. The temptation is to become demoralized because of who you do not have and to be embarrassed by the motley crew you do have.
Remember that words of Paul: But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. (I Corinthians 1:27-29, NKJV)
Bottom line, I am not excusing you to be sloppy and second-rate, but I am exempting you from trying to be the best in your own strength. When you surrendered your life to God’s call you got the best…roll with it!