How to Navigate the 3 Ministry Modes III

Part 3: Significance

By: Dan Reiland

In the past two entries, we have talked about how to navigate periods of survival or success in our ministries.  But many of us still long for something deeper (or at least we should).  In this final installment of an excellent article by Pastor Dan Reiland, we hear from the author on how to function effectively in a context that is producing significant fruit.

As we have acknowledged, success is awesome, but there’s more, and the right answer is not merely more success. Ministry significance is what our hearts long for, and though success and significance are not mutually exclusive, it is possible to experience surface success — lots of programs and activity but little depth and meaning.

Ministry is hard work, and without meaningful relationships, joy, and intimacy with God, success can lead to burnout. It’s not unlike the student who gets straight A’s. That’s great! To continue to get all A’s that student is tempted to sacrifice things in life that are more meaningful than a perfect report card.

Success in ministry can rob even the best of leaders from significance in ministry. And significance is not measured in numbers only. 

Characteristics of Ministry Significance: 

  • God’s presence and power are clear to everyone, and He gets the credit.
  • Consistent evidence of changed lives – stories are abundant.
  • Genuine joy and peace are equal to or greater than all the hard work.
  • A spirit of serving and giving permeates throughout the church.
  • Your family loves you, you love them, and your ministry legacy is positioned to live on after you.

Navigating ministry significance: 

1) Strive to love people before you lead them. 
Jesus set the pace for us; He loved us first, intimately, unconditionally, and sacrificially.  Therefore, love must be the foundation for all our leadership. Loving people first allows us to lead them for their good. As we often say, want more for people than from them.

2) Lean into God’s power over your own. 
I’ve been tempted many times during my years in ministry to lead by my own power. When I was a young leader, I think that came from a combination of passion and inexperience. Now, if I were to do that, it’s just dumb.

There comes a time when we genuinely understand that it’s all God. That doesn’t take away from your gifts and hard work, but it acknowledges where that talent and favor comes from. God is the one who brings the power for any ministry and life change that will last. And He brings a power that is infinitely greater than yours or mine.

3) Pray that your ministry is always larger than you as the leader. 

We sometimes see a leader become larger than their ministry, and the result can be disappointing. This potential reality is not limited to very large churches. It can happen in a church of any size. It can happen to senior pastors or staff members and even key volunteer leaders.

I think it’s great when a gifted and talented Christian leader rises in prominence. That person has a greater opportunity to influence the world for Christ. However, that great influence brings significant pressures, and as the body of Christ, we can be supportive by praying for God’s best upon them and their ministry.

Billy Graham is a great example. What name among Christian leaders in modern history is more significant? But it was never about him. It was always about salvation. Ultimately, the eternal legacy of life change is much larger than his name.

I pray you are blessed with Kingdom significance!

Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

© 2019 Dan Reiland | The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders


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