“Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know”
(1 Corinthians 8:2, NIV)
Lately, I’ve been doing some thinking. Thinking about what? Oh, you name it, I’ve probably had a thought about it. Yet if my wife would ask me the infamous question, “What are you thinking about?” My response would be the typical response, “Nothing.” According to Murdock (2020), “The average person will typically have more than 6,000 thoughts in a single day.” That’s a whole lot of thoughts! But, thinking about thinking brought me to the question: What does Scripture have to say about thinking? As ministry leaders, what should we be thinking about? I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have to sit around and wonder what to think about, I have enough emails in my inbox, a stack of papers on my desk, and enough management and organizational decisions to make, I really don’t need to think about what to think. Again, let me ask the question that is driving this article: As ministry leaders, what should we be thinking about?
• How to lead the organization or take the ministry to the next level?
• How to recruit and train leaders?
• How to manage the team that God has sent your way?
• How to navigate mandates, pandemics, variants, and empty seats?
We could create an unending list of things that as a ministry leader you should be thinking about. But what would happen if you would set aside the pressure you put on yourself as a leader and “Be still and know that He is God” and remember that He knows what you are thinking, and He’s got it all under control. Nieuwhof (2020) states it this way, “Take time to rest…and experience a recharged and refreshed outlook on your ministry. Remember this, ‘emotionally healthy leaders tend to lead emotionally healthy teams’” (para #36).
And you can’t be thinking about thinking without turning to one of the most often quoted passages of Scripture on the topic of thinking. It is found in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things” (NIV). What would happen in our world, churches, families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and wherever life finds us if we began to have that change in our thinking? I have found that when my mind begins to be consumed with to-do lists or I begin to become concerned, disgruntled or disappointed with what is happening in my ministry or organization, turning my thoughts to things that are “pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy” has a way of giving me new insight, a fresh perspective, and the renewal I need as a ministry leader.
Now I would be remiss if I just ended this article without challenging you as a ministry leader. You do have to be strategic and purposeful in your ministry, leading your organization, and in your leadership. “Good leaders are planners. They always think through where they’re headed, and they don’t waste time worrying about failure. Effective ministry leaders start with prayer, and then they plan what God wants them to accomplish” (Warren, 2020). Yes, you have to put on your thinking hat. Leaders make time and schedule think time. This means you have to be purposeful in your planning. I have pastor friends who plan their sermons out a year or more in advance. Do you realize that curriculum publishers not only know this year’s VBS material, they have already started working on next year’s VBS material? Do you realize that curriculum publishing companies have a 3-year scope and sequence in place for most of their curriculum? All of this just reiterates the importance of planning. “A healthy leader takes hold of where the church or organization is going and holds onto that vision to propel the ministry forward” (Malphursgroup, 2021). In other words, a leader thinks through and plans accordingly.
The bottom line is, there’s nothing wrong with thinking. It’s just a matter of being strategic in your thinking and not letting your thinking becoming a stumbling block as you lead. So, today I’m giving you permission to think. But at the same time I give you permission to take a break from thinking! But, if you’re going to think, think strategically and think on the good things that God has provided for you!
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