When God uses someone to build a church, nonprofit association, or ministry of any kind, he must answer a question (myself included): Am I building a monument or a ministry? The difference is simple, yet so paramount: A monument is all about you; a ministry is all about Him.
Consider the following four questions in order to determine your motivation.
1. Have you developed a succession plan?
Those who strive for their ministry to go beyond themselves have developed a succession plan. When the Lord calls them away, the ministry will then not simply survive, but thrive! That goal requires intentional thought and planning. It’s not something that comes together overnight or by itself and it may have some hurdles in the process. Without a succession plan, understand that the ministry is not likely to continue. Although I desire to continue full-time as long as God provides the health and strength, I asked the Board of Directors in 2004 to stand behind me in taking the ministry beyond me by expanding our team and reach. They gave me their unanimous support. Today we are seeing the fruit of the succession plan. Whenever the Lord calls me home, this ministry is positioned to thrive.
2. Who are you mentoring to follow you?
Succession plans are not only about set goals, but also about people. The ministry God used you to build needs a person who will follow in your footsteps. He or she must share your heart for the values of the ministry and a desire to build on its foundation. It is always ideal when the person who is succeeding you comes from within and has grown up through the ministry, accepting increasing responsibility. When that’s not possible, please give such careful thought and research in finding that person and the mentoring process. A good succession plan always thinks of the upcoming leadership.
3. Is the Board of Directors on the same page with you?
Your Board of Directors largely determines where a ministry is going outside of your own position. They have to understand the ministry’s purpose, goals, and the heart of its founder when he started it. That’s why it is important that they not only give approval to the succession plan, but are also completely on top of it progression. If the Board of Directors is committed to the founder but not to the ministry, the succession plan will not work. Upon the founder’s departure, there will be a monument, not a ministry. They must be committed to where the ministry is going, not simply where it has been.
4. Is the ministry becoming increasingly recognized for its fruit or its founder?
I have told the Board Directors and staff numerous times, “50 years from now, it will not matter who I was, but the world better know who Jesus Christ is.” That’s why the ministry has to keep building in such a way that those who don’t know anything about the founder are being impacted by the ministry 50 or 100 years from now. People becoming knowledgeable of the ministry should be impressed with its fruit even though they know little about the planter. A ministry moving in this direction will always be all about Him, not about the founder. As strategic plans are put together properly, they center on the goals of the ministry. Hence it becomes increasingly known for its fruit alone.
Anyone God uses to plant and shepherd a ministry of God needs to be careful in keeping his or her heart and eyes in the right direction. God does not desire that he or she build a monument. Instead He desires that a person build a ministry. Answering the above questions will determine long after your departure who the center of worship has been: Him or you.