I received a compliment a few weeks ago and I still have a smile on my face every time that I think about it. I don’t intend to stop thinking about it any time soon. We all receive our share of negative comments. They go with the territory. You can’t be in leadership without getting some negatives along the way. The secret is to grab a hold of every positive that comes your way and enjoy it as if it is the last one that you will ever receive.
I have heard different quotes about the amount of positive comments we need in order to balance out just one negative but the number is always significantly larger. That’s why compliments are so nice and so important. I have to wonder what our world would be like if everyone got into the habit of giving out at least a couple of well-deserved compliments each and every day. The reasons for complimenting people are there. Look for the nice things that people do. Look for the things that people do well. Look for the unseen deeds that no one else knows about. When you find those things in someone, give them a compliment.
This blog is written for leaders in small churches. If you fall into that category, you have probably received some negatives maybe even in this past week. My goal in this entry is to help restore at least a little of the balance that all of you need.
Seeing beyond the numbers
If you are a leader in a small church, you have probably seen beyond the numbers to the importance of a single life. Small-church ministry isn’t about large numbers. It isn’t about looking out at a big crowd and feeling good about all the people who are attending your church.
It is, however, about the value of individual lives. It is about the senior citizen who has been attending the church for decades and now that age limits her ministry and maybe even her attendance having leaders who remind her of her worth. It is about the young person with leadership potential having the chance to test those skills through contributing in ways that she would never get to do in a large church. It is about creating a family atmosphere and making sure that every member of the family knows that they belong.
The value that everyone counts is an important value in any church whatever its size but you have chosen to look beyond the numbers and help create that value in your small church. You deserve to be complimented for that.
Seeing your call clearly
Most pastoral students graduate from seminary with a dream of pastoring a large church. If they have a master’s degree they have spent six or seven years preparing for the pastoral role and they just know that there is a large church waiting for them at some point in their future. Often a small church is seen as a stepping stone to that large one where some day they will be.
There are, however, people who don’t see it that way. They are serving in small churches and as I like to put it, they have unpacked their suitcases. They are fully committed to the small church in which they are serving. If that large church comes along, they will worry about it then but for now they have found their place of ministry. They don’t believe for a moment that there is any place better than where they are serving right now.
If you fall into that group of pastors, then let me compliment you on your faithfulness to God’s call, your clear sense of vision and your commitment to the people whom God has entrusted to your care. They are the only ones that matter at this point in your ministry.
Seeing value where other might miss it
I grew up in a small town a couple of hundred kilometres north of Toronto. The population hasn’t changed in all the years since my childhood. It was just under 1000 then and it is just under 1000 now. The town was always economically depressed. The high school only had about 300 students in it. So as might be expected all the churches were small. The one that I attended had a Sunday morning attendance of about forty or so.
I will be eternally thankful that the leaders in that little church saw future potential in a group of teenagers who sometimes wanted to do things that might have been beyond their ability to do. They must have had their concerns at times but they always allowed us to follow our dreams. They knew that they would probably lose all of the young people with whom they worked but they still invested in our lives.
There are many of you who do the same thing. There is no university or college for miles around which means that every student has to leave home. Most of them will never return. They will get their education and find employment some place else. You will never get the benefits from the time that you invest but you don’t let that stop you from investing.
If you have young people in whom you are investing time and energy right now let me compliment you on your kingdom vision that goes beyond just the present. These will be a blessing to other churches and organizations because you could see their future value now.
Across this country scores of small church leaders are serving in a setting in which nobody notices that they are even there but you are doing more than you probably know. You are making a difference in people’s lives both right now in the present and in the future as well. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. What you do matters in the kingdom of God! Keep up the good work!