It’s January. That means New Year’s Resolutions. What is it that you want to change? Because, that’s what resolutions are about right? Creating change.
Chances are, your resolution might just have something to do with exercise. Did you know that statistically, gym memberships jump somewhere between 30-50 percent in January? That’s right. The second week of January is the busiest workout week of the year. Did you also know that around 80 percent of these new gym members disappear by the second week of February? As a culture, we are good at starting resolutions but aren’t exactly resolute in finishing them.
Why is this? I think we easily recognize where we need to change in our lives, but assume that the best way to create change is a comprehensive battle plan. “I need to lose a few pounds. I’m going to work out four times a week, cancel cable, get a stand up desk, ride my bike to work, and eat only grass for the entire year.” Great plan . . . not exactly realistic.
I think we have the same problem in ministry. About this time of year, we take stock and realize all the change that needs to happen in our ministries and we sort of panic. “We need more students . . . a different programming night . . . more volunteers . . . a secretary . . . more money . . . a new camp. . . . ”
Maybe none of these examples are accurate in your ministry, but I think you know what I mean. We all see the challenges and sometimes we are tempted to change 14 things at once to make the ministry better.
Or maybe, it isn’t necessarily your ministry but it is you, as a ministry volunteer or leader. This ministry season has left you feeling inadequate and a little insecure. The challenges of ministry have rattled you and you’re realizing there are many areas in which you need to grow. You need to grow in teaching . . . organizing . . . planning . . . leading . . . visioning, etc.
So, how do we actually create positive change in our leadership or in our ministry without ending up like the 80 percent of new gym members who tap out in early February? Good question. I have some thoughts.
Instead of attacking all the problems—instead of attempting to jump at every good opportunity, ask yourself: “What is the one change, that is most strategic, that I can implement this year?” This question has three important aspects. We’re talking about only one thing. We’re talking about strategy. We’re talking about actually implementing something. Let’s take a closer look at each of these ideas in turn.
Why not try multiple changes at once? Because, in order to create change, you need to convince key players to get behind your vision. For that, you need clarity. In order to have clarity, you need simplicity. A simple and clear vision for change is powerful and contagious. So, keep it simple. Aim for one change this year and absolutely crush it. Make this change the most well-thought out and executed change ever.
But, the question is: What change should it be? Well, for that you need to think strategically.
If you are only going to change one thing in your life or ministry this year, it better be worth it! It better payoff. And so, you need to ask: “What is the most strategic change I can make this year?” What one change will generate the most immediate positive energy and momentum? This is the change you want to go after! This is the one that will be worth it. If it were me, I would list out all the changes I’d like to make, and then prioritize them based on their potential for immediate impact. Then, choose the one that is most likely to make a splash and make it happen! Which brings me to my last idea.
Great ideas are amazing. I love ideas! But, here’s the honest truth: Great ideas that go nowhere actually hurt your credibility and integrity. Integrity at its most basic definition is this: “Doing what you said you would do.” Big talk about change without implementing change will undermine your leadership. On the flipside, a great idea, actually implemented, will make you look brilliant, trustworthy and strong as a leader. And, a few great ideas, actually implemented, back-to-back-to-back will create a powerful momentum and energy in your ministry.
So, we all have stuff to work on in our ministries. There are weaknesses to be addressed and opportunities to exploit, but I would encourage you to focus on the one thing—the most strategic one thing, that you can actually implement this year and go after it with all you’ve got. Let’s create positive momentum in our ministries and lives by becoming more simple and clear in our approach to creating change.
Aaron has been a student pastor for 12 years now. Currently, he’s the student ministries pastor at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. Aaron absolutely loves his job and his team—he thinks they are the best people in the world. Aaron’s favorite things in life are Thai food, beach volleyball, his family and books. He loves to talk student ministry strategy and practices, so look him up via blog or Twitter!