We all have heard, probably more times than we need, the analogy of our life or ministry being a plate. We sometimes say our plates are full or we need to take something off our plate. But more often than taking things off, I find myself putting things on, or wishing that I could. With time and age comes better judgment, and I have learned that I can’t do more than I can do. Just like eating at the buffet, piling more food on a plate that’s full has two consequences. First, everything starts to taste the same because it all runs together. And, second, no matter how good the food is if you eat it all you will be sick. Ministry is no different. You can only effectively do so much. So, the answer is to share, which though it’s not allowed at buffets, thankfully, it is what you need to do in ministry. But releasing ministry is not as simple as it sounds. Recently I have gone through a season of needing to release ministry and I have found these differentials have to be made when you do.
There is a difference between releasing ministry and dropping it.
Sometimes we need to drop ministries. These may be no longer effective; they may be no longer needed; they may be great but just need a break. If the idea is to stop doing something, then just stop, cold turkey! But releasing ministry is purposeful. If you want to have that ministry continue, you need to take the time to transition it to someone else who will assume the responsibility, both physically to run it and spiritually to pray for and nurture it. If you just leave it to run itself, it will wreck. No matter how well a ministry is doing, it can’t just keep itself going. Every ministry needs a leader.
There is a difference between releasing ministry and micromanaging someone else doing it.
When you release ministry to someone else, they take it completely. You can train them, apprentice them, show them, and teach into them, but when you release it to them, it’s theirs. It’s on their plate; completely. Of course, they can still come to you for guidance or advice on occasion, but if you are the one making all the decisions about how that ministry operates, you have not released it. You are now running a puppet show where you do the work, but someone else is seen. Teach or train them well, then release it to them.
There is a difference between releasing ministry and filling slots on a flow chart.
Releasing ministry involves praying for God’s clear direction concerning those who He has sent to serve with you. Everyone has gifts and abilities that are unique to them. Helping them find the place to serve that God has for them is a huge joy of ministry. To see someone step into a place that is a perfect fit for them brings joy to that person and spiritual health to a ministry. Randomly recruiting 6 females between the ages of 26 and 35 to staff your nursery on Sundays will make it possible to offer a nursery to parents. However, those serving may soon tire of the labor and the turnover rate grows. Parents feel less confident when there is always a new face to care for their child. Don’t just fill slots, hand off that ministry to the right ones.
Releasing ministry is a delicate balance. Often ministries are dear to our heart, much like children. We are hesitant to release them to others who may not care as deeply for them as we do. But if God has more for your plate, you have to make room. And if you release it, you allow others to share in the same joy of ministry that you feel as you serve Him.
So, how’s your plate?