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Fill up First

Orange Leaders
Orange Leaders Tuesday August 16, 2011
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by Tom Shefchunas

We decided long ago that we were never going to have a checklist when we trained our small group leaders in Transit. Basically, the logic went something like this:

  1. Relationships, good ones, could never be boiled down to a checklist.
  2. I wouldn’t want to volunteer for a job that can be boiled down into a checklist, would you? BORING!
  3. We want to be a ministry defined by our volunteers and quality relationships, not how well they completed a checklist.

That being said, the other side of the coin doesn’t sit well either. We can’t be a ministry that just throws people into the pool and hopes they can swim.

So, we gathered our best leaders together and asked them, “If you could say just a few things to new leaders, what would those things be?”

As we listened to them speak, themes started to emerge. Six themes actually. But that’s a blog for another time.

Even stranger, when we tried to put them in order of importance, none were more important than the other except for one.

That one we call “Fill up First.” It’s simply the statement or idea that in order to minister about a personal relationship with Jesus, you must have a strong and growing faith yourself.

Are we really surprised?

Isn’t it true in any ministry environment? Isn’t it true for you? If you are not healthy, your ministry is not healthy—for long.

So, in the end, one of the best things we can do for our ministries is to make sure we prioritize the development of our own faith, and our volunteers’ faith, over the ministry itself. We are at our best when we minister from the overflow of our own faith.

So, being a practical sort of guy, I put together a list of practical ideas to make sure you are doing this.

  1. Calendar a daily time to refuel. For me, I have a reoccurring appointment from every morning. It is a reminder every day to have that time. If I have something else come up, no big deal, I just move that appointment—but I don’t lose it!
  2. Ask for some accountability. For me, I have a guy that asks me specific questions, routinely. For instance, he asks if I’ve prayed with my wife today. There is no way to be wishy-washy when the questions are specific. What do you need to be held accountable for—specifically?
  3. Get enough sleep. A friend of mine considers his start to a day as the moment he goes to bed. Getting to be on time greatly increases the quality of my quiet time the next day.
  4. Schedule a quarterly day away. I learned this from a friend of mine. On your calendar, there should be a day that is less than 90 days away when you go away, with no computer, phone, or agenda and be with God. Trust me. This is huge.

There are so many more ideas. What works for you?

Tom is the multi-campus director of middle school for North Point Ministries. Tom’s passions are developing ministry leaders and anything that involves working with, recruiting, and developing the hundreds of volunteer small group leaders it takes to pull off Transit and Inside Out (North Point’s middle school and high school environments). Tom and his wife Julie live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three kids.

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