Ministry Problems Can Produce Ministry Leaders

In the past I have blogged about the idea that good things can come from bad situations, when those situations force us to do something good we normally wouldn’t do. Whether it’s laziness or lack of motivation, our intentions are better than our actions. Today, we see millions of Americans getting rid of credit card debt and saving money because of the failing economy. This is obviously something we should have been doing all along—but were forced to once we had no credit left.

Motivation is a funny thing. It is best when it comes from within—when we find a purpose to fulfill. However, most of us are motivated when there’s a need to meet. I find I am most strongly motivated when the pressure of necessity raises its ugly head. I am writing a book right now, and I am discovering once again that “deadlines are lifelines.”  When conditions become unbearable or dissatisfying—that’s when leaders step forward and do something. That’s when people discover what’s inside of them.

Charles Darrow was out of work and almost bankrupt during the Great Depression when he and his wife began to dream about what they would do if they had a million dollars. Every night they would discipline themselves to talk about the wealth they would accrue one day. Their regular little conversation turned into a game—with a board, dice, hotels and cards—a game you likely own today: the game of Monopoly. By the way, Parker Brothers bought the game from him in 1935 for a million dollars.

It was also during the Depression that Kirk Christiansen had some time on his hands and came up with his own little diversion. He was a carpenter who made ladders, but needed some extra work and cash. One day, he noticed he had lots of little pieces of wood left over once a ladder was built. He loved kids and started to let kids play with those little pieces of wood to see if there was anything marketable he could discover. It soon became clear they loved to build things with them. Those wood chips became Legos, a Danish hybrid for the words “leg godt” meaning “play well.”

During those same hard times, Alfred Butts was unemployed. Every day he’d read the New York Times, looking for work. As he did this, he realized how much he loved words—reading them, writing them and creating them. Since he had all kinds of time on his hands, he began to explore creating a game out of words. He succeeded and it put him back to work, producing the game called: Scrabble.

Do you see the common thread in the stories of Charles, Kirk and Alfred? It was the very problem they faced that ushered them into success.

I have a question for you. What problem do you face today that may become the very vehicle that enables you to succeed?  With the right perspective, a poor economy, unemployment, or boredom with far too much time on your hands could become your best friend. You just have to gain perspective, and take advantage of your situation. Your best leadership gifts may be summoned by hard times. You may just find your sweet spot when you are forced to do so.

I remember hearing a story about a frog who was hopping along a road when he fell into a large hole. He tried and tried to hop out, but was unable. As his friends came by, the frog beckoned them to go get help. Each of them ran for help, but upon their return they saw the frog hopping along the road again. He was obviously free from the confinement of the hole. When they reminded him that he couldn’t get out, he said: “Oh, you are right. I couldn’t get out. But then I heard a huge truck approaching and I realized…I had to.”

Here’s to your best gifts emerging as you face that huge truck coming at you.

What problems have you turned into opportunities?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders. His latest book Habitudes for the Journey is designed to master the art of navigating life’s critical transitions.

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Recent Comments
I love Ed's writings and heart. I am frustrated by these articles, however. Much of the missiological basis of the Church Growth Movement are not mentioned, and the origination of the formulas are not substantiated. Also, the Movement via Wagner, started mentioning the importance of health over 3o years ago. I wish these articles were better researched and less sweeping in their generalizations. Things like E1, E2, E3 evangelism, group multiplication, relational networks, faith, health, and the care to measure the right things are largely missing here. Perhaps Ed has earned the right to generalize, but I still was disappointed. But keep researching Ed! Ed and Thom have continued on in the spirit of the movement by doing quality research, and for that I am deeply grateful.
 
— Gary Westra
 
This discussion will continue, for sure. I am tasked with the online worship ministry do our church at FBC Trussville and it is proving to be an important piece of the overall ministry. As in most things In life and technology, balance is in order. Many of our older adults prefer the "live" service online rather than a week or even day-later DVD or downloaded service. They tell me it is important for them to be a part while the service occurs. This is key because if a person simply wanted the message or music or to see the pastor because they "like" him, then it would not need to be live. There is a sense with our people that they need to experience the worship with their church family in real time. Theologically, folks will have issues. This is a disruptive technology for church. But I would hope that before we toss it all away we would approach it with wisdom and humility. Personally, I would like to see the Church grow through small, cost-effective ways like this and not just brick-and-mortar.
 
— Robby
 
It seems this was written awhile ago but I would like to respond. Mr. Surratt makes great points. Points that should be taken seriously by all churches. I just do not think these points are the main reason people are not coming back to churches. Who knows the exact reason why anyone does not come back unless they tell you, but I can say with certainty the reasons I do not return are usually the same. 1. Love, tolerance, and acceptance. (unbelievers, baby Christians) Church members seem to want their guests or potential members to behave a certain way. They want them to conform to the system that is already in place. In some ways this is understandable. In other ways, it is isolating to the guest. They want to feel loved and accepted the way they are. They want to be told everything is ok no matter their past. They want to be given time to work out their immediate more pressing issues without having to worry about what to wear and how to talk (church speak). 2. Love, tolerance, and acceptance (believers, unchurched) Many times, these people are looking for what fits their already preconceived ideas of what "good churches" are. These preconceived notions are difficult to overcome and some of them were addressed in Mr. Surratt's article. But I can tell you that a truly loving, a truly tolerant, and a truly accepting church can overcome most of these things. You may never be able to overcome a taste in music, or a theological difference, but most everything else can be healed with Love. 3. People can see the business aspect of the church. I see it almost immediately when I walk into certain churches for the first time. I think people understand that a church has many aspects of itself that are business oriented. I just believe they dont want to experience these aspects when they visit. How many churches are so focused on growth, in numbers of bodies, that they forget the growth of the heart? The American church is now fully Americanized. Its a show and a numbers game. People come to church, especially new comers, CRAVING to fill a void in their life. If you are offering the same thing they can get in the real world, how are you any different? There are plenty of other reasons people do not return and many may not be avoidable. However, the church as a whole needs to reevaluate the arena in which they are playing. The simplicity of the Gospel is good enough to fulfill the hearts of the unbelievers and restore the prodigal's to a relationship with Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself and love thy God with all your heart.
 
— Shay Wallace
 

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