A customer service option that I really appreciate is how certain restaurants will ask you how many cream and sugar you want for your coffee, and then go ahead and doctor the coffee for you. I think it’s a simple, but fantastic way of serving my needs, especially when I’m ordering via drive thru. Here’s where it gets messy, though. Every time I order, I go with a small coffee, with two cream and two sugar. Side note: when I order the cream and sugar I like to invoke old school Chuck Woolery from The Love Connection and say I want “2 & 2.” Anyway, what has happened on a few occasions is that when I get to the window they hand me a large coffee and have upgraded me for free.
What’s the problem with that you may ask? Well, there are still only two cream and two sugar, so although I’ve been given a gift out of the kindness of their hearts, my coffee doesn’t taste like I want it to taste. Sure, it was really nice of them to do this for me, but honestly, the coffee just isn’t good to me without that ratio.
This has continued to happen, but the past few times when I get to the window, I thank them for the upgrade, but ask them to redo it as a small. You should see the looks of horror on their faces when I do this. You would think they personally saved money for years, taking food out of their own kid’s mouth in order to save enough to personally pay for this upgrade. Even though I politely explain why I’m asking this, the sense that they see me as an ungrateful chump doesn’t go away.
Here’s how this story relates to all church leaders. Whether you are a pastor, or a lay leader, you are called to help your church accomplish it’s WHY. Your WHY is your Mission – the reason God has your church there right now. Each person and ministry plays a part in this goal, but as leaders we are charged with the responsibility to make sure we’re being good stewards with this call.
All leaders find themselves on the spectrum of handling this responsibility by expecting the absolute highest level of quality from everyone and everything, to feeling like having any standards at all is unspiritual. Wherever you land, as a leader, you will be faced with the incredibly uncomfortable situation of having someone in your church serve somewhere they are not equipped to serve, and allowing them to do so will negatively impact your church’s ability to achieve it’s WHY. The big question is, how are going to deal with that?
Here’s the thing, even though their heart was in the right place at these restaurants, the reality was that they didn’t provide the experience as a customer that I wanted when I pulled into the restaurant. Sometimes having the right heart, doesn’t mean you are doing the right action. There are certain areas in church service where it’s clear that having the right heart simply isn’t good enough. For example, most folks who can’t play piano at all would not expect to be given the freedom to play in their church, nor would they be hurt if they were told they couldn’t play. However, this gets a lot more challenging when a person who can only play Chop Sticks and Heart & Soul, but thinks they can play Mozart, wants to play.
There are many areas in church ministry where it isn’t as clear as whether a person can play piano or not, but rather are they equipped to serve. Sometimes, people with great hearts, want to serve in places they are not equipped. In those moments, leaders have to lead. You have to have the unpopular, and uncomfortable conversations that leave that person (and possibly their family and friends) thinking you’re a chump that doesn’t value how great their heart is.
Much can be said, and learned, on how to value a person’s heart and calling, while telling them they can’t serve in the area they want. A friend of mine told me this week that after playing guitar 15 years at a church in Atlanta you would all know, he came to Colorado to another large church and during his audition they all talked and laughed. Even though he’s an incredible guitar player, he eventually was told he “wasn’t what they were looking for.” That for sure, is the wrong approach. Good leadership, seeks to value the person enough to be honest with them, while believing they have a valuable role in the ministry of your church. The key is helping them find that place.
Many good hearts have been crushed because they have been mishandled by leaders either not being honest with a servant, or by stomping on it when they let them down. Let’s embrace our call of Ephesians 4 and love and lead people well by connecting them to the “works of service to which they have been called.”