Monday, March 10, 2008

Are you a cruise control leader?

Some years back, I began talking to teens about how Christianity is a journey, not just a destination. While traveling this past weekend, I spent a lot of time on the freeway and a lot of time using my cruise control. It’s a wonderful invention for long trips, but leading a ministry with a “cruise control” style is risky. How do you know if you’re in danger of being a cruise-control leader?

You’re content with current results
If we’re cruising for new adventures, we always want more people to show up, more lives to be changed, more volunteers to get involved – basically, we’re unwilling to settle for the status quo.

But if we’re on cruise control, we’re OK with a “solid, steady” crowd through our doors. We’re happy that people still love God, even if they aren’t inviting their friends to church and they can’t remember the last time they shared God’s love with a stranger. We love our volunteers to death, but we’re just too busy or content (or maybe even tired) to recruit, train and release anyone new.

Cruise control limits us from accelerating to see increased results in our ministry.

You’ve lost your big-picture vision
If we’re cruising for new adventures, we keep our eyes focused on the big picture for our ministry, our congregation and our lives. Our ministry’s purpose is consistent with the direction for our whole church, and we look for ways to support all the other ministries – and even other churches in our community.

But if we’re on cruise control, we lose sight of the world beyond our ministry’s walls. We know that God has a big plan and a big purpose, but right now we’re just happy with teaching and leading this week. We aren’t on the lookout for ways to strengthen other members of our “team,” and if we pay attention to other churches, it’s only to compare and see who’s doing a “better job” in the community.

Cruise control limits us from cooperating with other leaders headed in the same direction.

You don’t get enthusiastic about new ministry ideas or opportunities
If we’re cruising for new adventures, we’re dreaming up new ways to create passion, impact and excellence in our ministry. (Call it the PIE phenomenon.) We’re filled with a hunger for doing things differently. We’re experimenting with new ways of discipling or reaching people who don’t know Jesus. We’re looking for new strategies to connect people and help them move into a place of honoring God, growing together, and serving others.

But if we’re on cruise control, we see “new” as a code word for “more work.” We don’t want to be stretched, we don’t want to risk our “successful” ministry for any new ideas, and we’ve lost our sense of passion. We still love people and we may still love ministry, but our comfort zone has become our ministry zone, and when we’re brutally honest, we admit that we’d rather be comfortable than challenged.

Cruise control limits us from driving new highways, ministering to new people, and experiencing God on the risky roads.

You’ve stopped planning for the future
If we’re cruising for new adventures, we can’t wait until tomorrow arrives – not because we’re tired of today, but because we know God has even better things in store. We’re placing ourselves and our ministries in the path of success and growth, and tomorrow means the opportunity to be involved in more people’s lives for His glory.

But if we’re on cruise control, we’re using the same map we’ve used for the last decade – or longer. We don’t look far beyond this coming Sunday or Wednesday, and we certainly don’t have many dreams about what our lives, ministries or church will look like in 6 months, one year or five years. We aren’t failing – yet. But we are failing to plan for the future, and when the future arrives, we may look back and regret our lack of preparing, dreaming and planning.

Cruise control limits us from accomplishing all that God has in store for us in the weeks, months and years ahead.

The good news, of course, is that at any time on our trip, we can turn off the cruise control and put our foot back on the accelerator. And that’s when the journey takes on new life once again.


Steve said...

I hear a writer here and perhaps see the outline of a book, eh? Or at least an article...

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^