Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Top 10 Nuggets for Working in Ministry

Every single one of these nuggets was either taught to me through a mentor that I love or through my own miserable, horrifying, go-hide-in-a-hole-now-Ashley failures. Those are THE best.

I think they also apply to anyone trying to spiritually lead a group or individuals.

Here we go…

1. Don't make walking with Jesus any more complicated than it is for yourself or your students. At the end of the day: read the Bible; pray; surround yourself with people who know Him better than you and a few who don't know Him well and a few who don't know Him at all. Seek to plumb the depth of understanding Him -- not because you have to but because He fascinates you. And when He doesn't fascinate you -- don't worry....He isn't that put out and He's always fascinated by YOU!!!
(After I took my current college ministry job, I panicked a little and emailed a mentor and friend, Cheryl Fletcher. This is what she told me.)

2. Choose 12 or so people and focus on them. Jesus was the MESSIAH and used just 12 men to change the world. Don’t try to be everybody’s everything. It’s ok to disappoint people. Jesus did because He always had His focus on the greater goal.

3. Try something new every year. Never stop taking risks and evolving. It’s ok to fail. IT’S OK TO FAIL!

4. Trust the word of God fully. Earn the right to be heard, but never hesitate to share the Word or the Gospel. It is alive, active, and more powerful than any words we can say. I think when I get to heaven I will wish I’d taken more risks in this area.

5. Have a plan and then be willing to throw it out at any minute because the Spirit says so.

6. In discipling and leading small groups, challenge people and set expectations early. (Be on time, be prepared, memorize scripture, ect.) Then administer grace over and over. You can’t control people. We are only responsible for being faithful and then trusting the Lord. Being a control freak is either a lack of faith in God, or an identity issue of who we are in Christ. So, be faithful, but always give grace when people don’t follow your plan.

7. Your girls don’t need another friend, they need a leader. Sure, you will listen to their struggles, encourage them continuously, and hopefully become life-long friends. But, what they need is a leader. So be confident and lead them! Be an adult. Show them Jesus. Speak truth into their lives. And always believe in them when they don’t. Each year, at our very first meeting, I tell my new freshmen small group, “Look around because these people are your new best friends.” You can imagine the reactions, but the point is I am injecting them with belief.

8. Guard your marriage, friendships, and your time with Jesus.  Take your to-do list and eliminate 25% of it. You know, the “I’m never ever going to do that realistically but it sure does sound nice” things. We are loved daughters of the King, but we are tempted to act like slaves who need to produce to earn our keep.

9. Know that you will fail as much as you will succeed. You must trust the work of the Holy Spirit. There are many times when I finish leading a Bible study and I think it was an utter failure. Then someone tells me God spoke to them through it. Who are we to judge what God is doing? Be faithful in your studies, pray, trust the Holy Spirit is moving, and then don’t beat yourself up when things go south temporarily. 

10. Find other ways, outside of yourself to skin the cat. Utilize people. You don’t have to be the leader of everything. Determine what your gifts are (spiritual and natural) and then multiply yourself by equipping and training people. Let it go and allow others to take over. Even if they don’t do it just how you would have.

Are there any others you have learned through ministering to others? Let me learn from your failures! Come on, it’s only fair.  


  1. Oh! We talked about those "hide-in-a-hole" experiences this morning in Sunday School ... only we called them "being taken to the woodshed by God" experiences! LOL! :)

  2. Okay you've got to share your "Hide in a hole" experience. Sounds interesting.