Ministry vs. The Machine
Good leaders ought to have a mix of people skills and administrative skills. The first is a non-negotiable, the second is a solid bonus. While administration can always be farmed out to a teammate who is more gifted at keeping all the plates spinning, it’s better to have a leader who can live in both worlds.
But there are nerds among us (clears throat, raises hand) who geek out on administration. I love spreadsheets and documented plans and inbox zero and checklists galore. And I’ve been known to hide behind those processes instead of engaging with people.
Maybe you’re there, too.
Recently I heard Daniel Simmons – a member of our steering team – talk about Ministry vs. The Machine. In The Machine, we dive deep in our administrative tasks and rarely come up for air. We engage people by the proxy of our email, text messages, or Slack channels, but fail to get face-to-face. We count it all joy when we have a completed task list, but bemoan the people who interrupt our carefully planned day.
(Clears throat, raises hand.)
How much better would our worlds be if our plan always included people. If we could see our spreadsheets as a means to an end user. If we could view our carefully crafted playbook as, for example, a weekday starting point that frees us up for weekend shepherding. If we could use our plans to free us to be fully present with people, and not shirk people so we can get back to our plans.
I confess that I’m there far more often than I want to be. I’ll admit that I lean on my administrative gifts more than I lean into people.
The Machine is necessary. Processes are important. Systems keep us sane. But leaders, let’s not behold The Machine and confuse it for actual ministry. May our plans never replace people as the calling we’ve been given.