We can’t always control outcomes, especially when working with people or an institution like the church. Tradition, life and circumstances sometimes create events we feel hopeless to control.
The danger of responding to things in a reactionary way is feeling victimized by an endless barrage of challenges. The last part of the definition says we “responding to it after it has happened.” You may end up feeling as if you’ve been blindsided. If you don’t know it’s coming, you certainly can’t control it. Or can you?
There are many things we can control. Let’s move away from the discussion of the previous two paragraphs and think about some simple and practical ideas. I offer these suggestions for living a proactive life in ministry.
As ministers, we can be proactive in our spiritual life (prayer, Bible study, meditation, daily worship). Church leaders are busy people and may get bombarded by many demands, but there is no reason to skimp on our walk with God.
- As ministers, we can be proactive in our mental growth. As a pastor, I made a commitment to start every day by reading from a book that aided my professional growth. This reading was done after my worship time. It is amazing how much you can read if you devote just 15-30 minutes to this practice at the beginning of the day.
- As ministers, we can be proactive in managing our health. None of us can prevent a health problem, such as cancer or kidney disease. However, we can manage our weight, exercise, get a yearly physical, get a good night’s sleep, take time off for rest, and such things.
- As ministers, we can be proactive in our family life. When my sons were younger we devoted every Friday night to family activities. Activities such as camping, bowling, swimming, or fishing were a part of our family schedule.
I could carry the list further, but I’m sure you can add your own thoughts. These are activities you and I can control, most of the time.
What about the outcome? What are the results of living a proactive life? I see several benefits.
- We feel good about ourselves. Any time you fulfill a task you will feel good about yourself. Many tasks in ministry leave you feeling as if your task is partially complete. For instance, seeing people grow is not a task that is easy to measure.
- When we are proactive it insulates us against those times when things spiral out of control. There are plenty of these events in serving in ministry.
- Being proactive follows the example of Jesus. Even when Jesus hung on the cross He was in control. His enemies thought they had defeated Him. That was not the case. He was in control.
My prayer is that you will not feel like the tail wagged by the dog. God has better things in store for you.