No matter what you’re doing, whether within the church or not, you will experience limitations in your work. It’s an inevitable part of the process. But it’s really not the limitations that matter. Rather, it is how you handle said limitations—how you respond to them, how you frame them, and ultimately how you work within them. That’s what makes the ultimate difference.
Responding to Limitations
Nothing was ever accomplished by overreacting to a challenge. Sometimes the best thing we can do when faced with difficult ministry circumstances is to take a step away and think about our actions and our words. A mature, loving response goes a very long way, especially if you want to move forward and try to find a possible compromise. When the budget you’re given is not what you had hoped for, you can freak out. Or, you can figure out a way to be respectful. This sets the stage for future conversations surrounding your budget, rather than leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those in leadership. They’ll know that you are capable of dealing with difficult circumstances in a way that is smart and calculated, not heated and over-emotional.
Sometimes we get in our own way when it comes to handling ministry limitations. The way we choose to see these perceived limitations can often make or break us. For example, a lack of space is an issue many church leaders face. This can be a limitation, sure—or it can be an opportunity for creativity and partnership. Involve families and volunteers to help brainstorm alternative spaces and ways to arrange your small groups. Partner with area businesses or others in the community to find additional meeting spaces for your weekend activities. Consider hosting your small groups at alternative times during the week. You never know what could come from these conversations. And the point is, reframing limitations as possibilities is sometimes the key to forward motion.
Working within Limitations
Responding positively and reframing our limitations are important parts of ministry, and ultimately, we need to learn to work within the constraints we have been given. Does this mean settling? Of course not. But sometimes it means learning what we should lovingly fight for and what we should accept. Working within a set of constraints can be incredibly freeing if we let it! Think about it: When there are boundaries set for us, even if we don’t like them, they can be incredibly beneficial to producing meaningful work. There’s no guesswork involved. You know exactly what the sandbox you’re playing in looks like, and you can use every square inch of that sandbox to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those at your church. Use the limitations as a chance to show your leadership that you are capable and willing to make the most of what you do have.
Chances are, most of these principles aren’t news to you. You’ve heard them before or you’ve known them to be true for much of your life. But actually doing something is a whole other challenge. So, next time you are up against a limitation, take a step back. Respond, reframe, and get to work. Your church is counting on you.