As a lifelong baseball fan, I have always appreciated that, by nature, baseball is a team sport. No matter how good of a batter, pitcher, or fielder you are, you are utterly dependent on the rest of the team. You can have the greatest hitter of all time on your team, but if the rest of your lineup can’t hit a ball off a tee, you’re going to be in sad shape.
The same is true in ministry. No matter how great a preacher, teacher, or worship leader you may be, your team and mission will die with you unless you are intentionally pouring into the person or people who are coming up behind you.
Here are three things you can do to help your team long after it’s your turn at bat.
1. START WITH WHY
Make sure, first off, that you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. As a leader in the church, your goal should be to expand and strengthen God’s Kingdom. The challenge often arises in keeping this goal at the forefront of everything that you do. It’s too easy to lose sight of our purpose as followers of Jesus Christ, especially in the midst of fundraising, planning sermons, building campaigns, outreach events, and everything else that fills up the calendar.
Properly formed, your church’s mission statement can be a great way to communicate the “why” with your team. The simple act of making sure that everything you do is connected to the why will help to ensure that you’re on point and on mission in the smallest detail.
2. SIMPLIFY AND SYSTEMATIZE
The system is what you do and how you do it to support the why. When you have a clear system in place, it’s easy to pass it off to the next batter. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” While we know that perfection is only truly attained in Jesus Christ, there is great wisdom in examining what items, programs, or other elements might be distracting you and/or your church from the mission of making God’s Kingdom greater. See if there’s any ways you can trim the fat so you can focus more intently on what God has called you to do. Work with your team to set up sustainable systems for the things that need to get done.
3. WORK YOURSELF OUT OF A JOB
People often question why baseball managers wear the same uniform as the players. Simply put, the manager of a baseball team used to manage the team from whatever position he was playing. As these time-worn players grew in wisdom and knowledge of the game, their bodies also began to feel the effects of years of training; so they brought their wisdom to the sidelines.
By moving from first base to the dugout, the manager created a place for another player on the field whom he could train up and watch excel. If my mission is truly to see the Body of Christ excel in advancing God’s Kingdom rather than my own, I have to be willing to give my job away to the person who’s on deck.
The reality is that we can’t be in our ministry positions at all times. Each of us will have to take time away at some point – whether that be a vacation, sabbatical, a call into a new ministry, or God’s calling you home. You (and your church) need to be prepared for those times. Help your team by identifying the next batter to take your place and giving them everything you can to set them up for success, even if that may mean your job, title, or paycheck.
In baseball, your job as the batter is done when you’ve made contact with the ball. Then you become a baserunner, then hopefully, a run on the scoreboard. You have to keep moving forward. In ministry, our jobs are constantly changing. We don’t get to go backwards, and there are no do-overs. Whatever position God has called you to today is the one that you need to use to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Be honest with God and yourself about the position that He has you in, and work at it to the best of your ability – for the team.