In the midst of all the seasonal programs that occur in November and December, this is also a great time to evaluate how things are going. The school year tends to bring a lot of activity and newness, but we need to be sure to step back and see the bigger picture.
We all know the tragic story of the RMS Titanic (the largest passenger steamship of its time) hitting an iceberg and sinking on its maiden voyage. Much has been said and written about the mistakes that were made. That is what we can learn – that it wasn’t one error in judgment that resulted over a thousand deaths, but a series of decisions.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and we can always learn from history to make our future better. Without trying to minimize this tragedy, here are some thoughts from what we can learn from the voyage of Titanic, and how you can use them to evaluate and improve your ministry:
- Know your goal. The ultimate goal of the Titanic was not to be the biggest or fanciest ship. The goal was to transport people across the ocean safely. For all that is going on in your ministry, are you continually reminding yourself of your primary mission?
- Be safe. The Titanic was not outfitted with enough lifeboats to save all the passengers. Over a 1500 people died, but it could have been much worse if the ship was at capacity. We don’t need to live in fear of every “what-if,” but we need to be prepared for the worse. Do you have a clear and simple safety plan for your ministry?
- Communicate with your crew. The captain of the Titanic heard reports of icebergs, and accordingly adjusted the ship’s path more southward. However, other crew members got more reports about icebergs, but their job was only to report messages to the passengers, and they never passed on these additional warnings to the bridge. Are you communicating with your team over and over and over about God’s vision for your ministry and your most important goals, and are you getting their input?
- Be nimble. Some have said that the rudder design on the Titanic was inefficient for being able to effectively turn a ship of its size. No matter how big or small your ministry is, change is always a challenge. Some core parts of your ministry need to be held constant. But are you ready, willing, and able to change certain aspects and philosophies, so that you can more effectively minister to the families in your ministry?
- Keep moving forward. Others have said that the Titanic could have avoided the fatal iceberg if it didn’t stop its engines when it turned hard to the left. When change is necessary, don’t hesitate to keep moving forward. In most decisions, you can’t choose to simultaneously change and stay the same. Are you confident in your decisions when things need to change?
- Expect the unexpected. Some of the events were uncontrollable – such as poor visibility and a strong northwest wind blowing icebergs farther south than normal. Similarly, sometimes unexpected twists will happen in your ministry programming – computers crash, lessons are misplaced, materials are forgotten to be restocked. Of course, we don’t need to go overboard (pardon the pun) in creating an abundance of policies and procedures. But have your rehearsed (even mentally) some scenarios that could potentially disrupt your ministry programming?
Don’t let the journey of your ministry be disrupted by icebergs. Take time to evaluate your ministry with these thoughts and questions.