I like carrots—cooked, raw, plain or fancy. But spinach? I like spinach when it isn’t too spinachy, like creamed or fried (yes, like a potato chip).
The truth is sometimes I need to eat spinach.
What’s on Your Plate?
Most ministry leaders get to choose what is on their plate—some even tailor their daily work to be the work they really want to do. The Advocace Ministry Capacity Framework identifies seven areas that successful vision-driven ministries master. The challenge for the leader is to decide which areas to keep and which to delegate.
“[A] trap into which the [Christian leader] is in danger of falling is that he may do what comes naturally and just take it easy…To avoid this danger the [Christian leader] should voluntarily impose upon himself a life of labor as arduous as that of a farmer, a serious student or a scientist. No man has any right to a way of life less rugged than that of the workers who support him.”—A.W. Tozer
Although I think Tozer would have liked the StrengthsFinderTM, a diet of strengths-only is where the organization—and the Christian leader—can suffer.
Good Flavor Every Day
A growing leader leads growing organizations. We see it every day: Leaders who learn new skills and practice them show the organization that there is nothing to fear. The leader still leverages strengths, but adds spinach.
Often, the spinach for Christian ministry leaders is donor development work. Like spinach, donor development work can be far more palatable with two preparations (really, you have to try fried spinach chips):
Preparation 1: Put a Donor Hour on Your Calendar Every Day.
Spending just an hour a day meeting your donors will propel your leadership. Set an appointment every day. Perhaps a staff member calls donors and sets a lunch meeting for you. Make it easy. Make it fun. It will be rewarding. If you have as much fun as I think you’ll have, expand the time.
Preparation 2: Choose Your Donors Well.
Like choosing fresh vegetables, choose donors that will help your ministry. Organization leaders often spend time with their top donors, but you should also spend time with donors that have the capacity to grow their support of your ministry. Donor research, like DonorCompassSM helps leaders discover donors that can make a big difference in their ministry. These people are your ministry’s biggest fans. They want to be involved with you.
The Clean Plate Club
In my third grade class, Mrs. Erwin began a class contest: The Clean Plate Club. Everyone who ate all the food on their lunchroom plate received a point—that she wrote prominently on the blackboard. At the end of the six week grading period, she provided a prize. Her aim was to get our class—especially the boys—to eat the vegetables on their plate.
The truth she taught applies today for leaders who want to see their ministry vision fulfilled: a balanced plate occasionally has some spinach.
Simply, an unseen, unrelenting gravitational-pull tugs at leaders to do what we want rather than to do what we must.
Our ministry vision requires we do what we must.