Over the last little while, I’ve been watching a certain search engine company trying to become all things to all people. They seem to have their hands into everything these days. I think they’ve even announced their own tablet, not to be confused with the other 100 or so coming onto the market.
I observe that that they have shown themselves to be really good at a few things. A dynamic search engine that rose to the top of the heap (sorry, Yahoo! and Bing), a web browser that got to the core of the browsing experience (get me there fast and don’t crash), and a svelte email service that became synonymous with getting the job done (no, Hotmail, I don’t want more spam) … but then it starts to become a slippery slope. We could around and around on what would be deemed successful for this company, as we each have our likes and dislikes when it comes to all things computing, but I think we could agree that there have been some things they’ve done that have been mediocre at best (Google+), and some that have thankfully slipped into the dark abyss of computing history (*cough* Google Wave *cough*). Not that these didn’t have the potential to be great, they just were problematic from the start due to any number of reasons, from lack of interest beyond early adopters to an idea that’s being done better by someone else.
Now, if you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you’ve probably worked hard at the things you’re good at, and figured out how to hand off the things you are weak at, or at least suffer through doing them anyway. You want to be known for your roaring successes and have your train wreck mistakes become lost to the ages. That’s totally normal. We want people to see that we’re capable and willing and eager and full of energy and ingenuity. Basically, we want our congregation to know that we have the “right stuff.” In that space, we are sometimes willing to take on much more than we can chew. We become a jack of all trades, but master of none. And that’s where the trouble can come in.
When you were hired on, or signed up as a volunteer, you were probably eager to show your skill set. You had a number of responsibilities and you sought to do those well. But then, things started to get added to the miscellaneous category of your job description. Perhaps you were saddled with more responsibility than you started with because no one else wanted the task, maybe staffing changes required you to take more into your portfolio, or perhaps you thought you could handle more, or you felt you needed to be challenged more, or any other number of reasons. You know your own story.
Just like G**gle should know, it’s about being selective and running hard with what you’re best at. The challenge is all about knowing yourself. Knowing your capabilities and your capacities. Knowing what you rock at, and knowing what will fall apart if you come near it. There are times and places to test the waters and see if there’s something new within your capacity, but know going in that you don’t need to be all things to all people. It can be a very freeing statement, and will allow you to press into who God has created you to be. I know this first hand; I know that I was made for student ministry. And that has made all the difference.
Kevin Downey currently carries the baton for youth ministry at Chilliwack Alliance Church in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. he loves what he does, and thanks God every day for giving him his second wind. He tweets at @revkev73.