Today’s entry is by guest blogger Mark Fields, director for Vineyard Missions.
When you have a compass, you need to reorient it depending on your current location. With the electronic compass on my iPhone I move the phone in a figure 8 several times to allow it to calibrate to my current location. I can’t just pull it out and use it.
If the compass heading is off by just one degree, over a long journey you can end up very far away from your intended destination. For a successful journey, you need to recalibrate your compass regularly.
I recently asked this question of someone. He’d been working hard in his ministry, putting forth a great deal of effort, yet receiving very little by way of appreciation from his congregation. He was frustrated and tired.
Yet the question, “Whose approval are you seeking?” jolted his perspective. He was looking for approval from the people he was leading rather than from God. When he shifted his perspective, he could see that he was serving God faithfully even if others around him didn’t understand or notice.
In many cases where you are the supervisor, you may want to take a coaching posture as much as possible. However, a coaching posture requires that the person you’re coaching is the one who sets the agenda. The agenda they set may or not be most strategic for accomplishing the goals you want them to accomplish as their supervisor.
Here’s a rule of thumb: if you find yourself trying to steer the conversation during coaching times, that means you probably haven’t completed the supervisor work of making sure they know what they need to achieve and how they will be evaluated. Too often we aren’t clear enough about what results we want people to get. Then when we try to coach them, they meander.
I taught at a Vineyard conference recently and I noticed their practice of looking for multiple confirmations. They’re not looking for just one person to say, “Hey, I think we should do x, y, or z.” They’re looking for multiple indicators pointing in the same direction. They’re praying, discerning what God may be up to, paying attention to what they’re sensing, and taking note if they’re hearing similar ideas from different quarters. Using all of these elements, they put the pieces together of what God is calling them to do.
As you plant a church, you need to help people understand what it means to follow Jesus based on the DNA you disciple into them. Obviously, this is harder with people who have previous church experience than with those who come to faith through your ministry.
Sometimes planters are so desperate for people to join their church that they embrace people who don’t share their values. It’s the same mistake an engaged person might make, “After we get married, I’ll change them.” And then they don’t change. Don’t bring people in knowing that they don’t share your values. You need agenda harmony.
When you are in the role of a pastor/shepherd, and you see someone off-balance in their life, how directive should you be? This is an issue I am continuing to think through. I’ve realized that as I decide when to step in and when to step back, I’m operating intuitively in this area.
Yet as you know, doing something intuitively doesn’t allow you to pass that skill along to others. So I am trying to think through the rhythms and balances of shepherding responsibilities. As people are learning to walk, how much freedom is good? How much direction is good? What’s the minimum amount of structure they need in order to grow? When do you speak into a person’s life and how?