Monday, March 17, 2014

Six Steps to Finding Your Sweet Spot in Ministry

Just in case you're from another planet… this is a baseball bat.




In baseball, when you're batting and the Pitcher throws the ball, you can swing it and strike the ball anywhere from the bottom of the handle to to top of the barrel.

But there's one spot unlike any other part of the bat, and it's called the "sweet spot."  This is where you're going to get the maximum power and see the greatest result.

Doubles, triples and home runs happen when the ball hits the sweet spot.  Foul tips, grounders, and pop-ups happen when the ball finds itself outside the sweet spot.

Believe it or not, the same is true of someone in ministry (or any other profession for that matter).  As Pastors (or professionals), we have a sweet spot; a place where we thrive and do our best work.  It's the area of our ministry that gets us the most excited.  It's the part of our job that seems to make the days pass by quickly and is usually pretty quick to bring a smile to our face. 

So what is your sweet spot in ministry?  Here are six steps to finding your sweet spot and making the most of your time at the plate.

1.  REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE A SWEET SPOT

Everybody has a sweet spot and the reason is because God made you that way.  He gave each one of us gifts, talents, and passions.  It says in Romans 12:6, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us."  And not only did God give us gifts, but He gave them to us so that we would serve others in ministry.  1 Peter 4:10 says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."  That's pretty straight forward… God has given you gifts, talents and passions and when you use these things to serve others in ministry, it allows you to operate in your sweet spot.

2.  GET IN THE GAME IF YOU EXPECT TO GET A HIT

This seems pretty obvious, but the truth is, you'll never get a hit if you stay in the dugout.  You have to get in the game if you expect to get a hit.  Many times, we hoard the gifts God has given us instead of utilizing them.  We stockpile our gifts instead of sharing them.  When we refuse to operate in our God-given giftedness, we are essentially refusing to be maximized in the ministry God has called us to. 

How many men are called to preach, but they remain on the sidelines for whatever reason?  How many gifted Bible teachers continue to re-read the text to themselves over and over again without ever operating in their giftedness, teaching others what the Word of God says?  How many Paul's refuse to get involved with Timothy because they're afraid or apathetic?  When you get in the game and commit to swinging, you'll get hits.

3.  LISTEN TO YOUR BATTING COACHES


It sounds crazy, but there are people around you that have more wisdom and experience than you.  I'll call these people "batting coaches."  They see things you can't see in yourself.  They observe your life and ministry as spectators and they, at times, see clearer than you do as a participator.  It's good to listen to the wisdom around you, and when you do, you'll be able to swing harder with confidence because you'll be able to identify your sweet spot and hit with power more frequently.

4.  KEEP ON SWINGING

There will be times in ministry when you are operating out of our sweet spot.  It'll seem like every day you're working on things that don't matter or aren't making a difference.  You'll be frustrated and feel like a failure… these are all common seasons of ministry that we all experience from time to time.  Here's the danger with that… when you feel like you're stuck in this kind of ministry rut, your tendency is to quit.  When you quit swinging, you're guaranteed to lose.  But realize, if you keep on swinging, things are eventually going to change.  

It's just like any professional baseball player.  No matter how good they may be, every player goes through a slump.  They'll swing and miss over and over again and feel like they'll never make contact with the ball again.  But as it turns out, every slump ends and the player somehow finds the sweet spot again.  That's what we have to do when we find ourselves in a ministry slump.  Don't quit!  Keep swinging, praying, looking for ways to serve in our giftedness and depend on God for the strength to endure the difficult seasons in the meantime.

5.  FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS

If you love seeing people saved, find ways to share your faith more.  If you enjoy discipling young believers, make the necessary adjustments to your schedule and find ways to pour into people.  If you have a heart for missions, you'll never be in your sweet spot until you find ways to function in your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  God has given you passions in ministry and once we realize what they are, we've got to be diligent in serving in our sweet spot.

Nearly every frustrated person in ministry I've ever met, is frustrated because they are operating outside of their passions.  They want to lead, but they feel stuck without leadership.  They want to preach, but can't seem to find a platform.  They want to see people saved and they're stuck pushing paperwork…  In every case, there was an unseen solution.  In every case, they were focused on their circumstances instead of their potential.  What they didn't see was that if they were called to lead, there was someone in their circle of influence that needed leadership.  If they were called to preach, they didn't need a platform, they just needed an audience and there just so happen to be ton's of people around looking for hope and life and love.  Some felt called to see people saved and finally saw beyond the desk and identified the thousands of lost people trolling the streets of their hometown.  We can operate in our passions, but we have to be able to think bigger thoughts and dream bigger dreams.  God has given you a chance to operate in your gifts and passions… but it's up to us to discover what that looks like.

6.  DON'T BE SATISFIED WITH SINGLES

It's true that a base hit is still a base hit.  Yes, it's true that small victories are still victories… but the truth is, God's given you a sweet spot, so why settle for singles if He created you to be a power hitter?  Don't settle for singles when God created you to hit home runs.  Don't allow mediocrity to rob you of true success in what God has called you to and created you to do.  God wants to use you to do BIG things for His Kingdom, so operate in your sweet spot and be maximized today!

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