I’m a small-town pastor, so let’s face it: on any given day you’ll find me wearing a number of different hats. Some hats—like the preacher hat or planner hat—are hats that fit me well. They’re hats I love to wear, because they match my personality and how God has hard-wired me together to do certain things well. Other hats, though . . . well, they just aren’t the best fit and wearing them makes me uncomfortable. If I wear those hats for too many hours in a day and too many days in a week I find that I’m fighting against my God-given nature, and so it wears me down and makes me unproductive in all aspects of my work and ministry.
So what’s a small-town pastor to do? Money is severely limited, so adopting the mega-church practice and doing specialty hiring for a “Minister of Assimilation” (or for that matter, even a lawn maintenance guy!) is out of the question. Equally unattractive is just sucking it up and performing as best I can in areas that I was never equipped by God to really excel in, all the while having my spiritual and emotional batteries drained dry.
There’s a third option, though. It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes relying heavily upon God. But it is an option:
Trust God to bring somebody forward, train them to take on an area of ministry as their own, and turn it over to them.
Trusting is difficult because while I wait for God’s timing, I either must continue to work against my nature or simply let some things not get done. That’s unappealing to most people. Training people and turning over ministry is also difficult because there’s always the reality that they’ll end up doing ministry in some way other than the way I would choose. That’s a mighty big pill for some people to swallow.
But in the end . . . isn’t it the best way? Wouldn’t it be the most amazing, rewarding thing to see a desire for a certain ministry birthed in a person’s heart and to see them learn and grow and then go on to impact others in a way that I never could?
And wouldn’t it be great to thank God for doing something I could never do on my own?
You bet it would be. You bet it is.
So what am I—as a small-town pastor—to do? Just what I said: trust God, train people, and turn ministry over to them. Makes life difficult at times and challenging at others . . . but I wouldn’t have it any other way.