Several years ago my dad served as an unpaid staff administrator at a medium-sized church near Vancouver, BC. Fresh from a top level corporate career, some of what he encountered on a church staff left him a bit puzzled as to how things work in the church world.
For instance, on one occasion he had to ask one of the pastoral staff to carry out an assignment slightly outside his usual “job description”. Now, while my dad clearly had the authority to issue this assignment, the pastor gracefully declined. He explained that he simply didn’t have a burden for such a job.
“I didn’t know you could say this to your boss when you work in a church,” Dad would later mention to me.
What he didn’t realize, but would quickly learn, is that sometimes church leaders play the “burden” or “calling” card, when what is required is the “servanthood” card.
A burden, or calling, is that God-given passionate holy discontent that drives you to make a significant Kingdom impact with your one and only life.
Servanthood is an ongoing posture of doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
Here are a few guidelines:
- When you’re mapping out where God is directing you to go in the long-term, it’s time for the burden card.
- When it’s all-hands-on-deck cleanup day at the church, it’s time for the servanthood card.
- When you’re making ministry career choices, play the burden card.
- When your supervisor asks you to help another department complete a project, play the servanthood card.
Managing the tension between these cards is an important part of leadership development. When we get it wrong the Kingdom feels the strain. But when we get it right God can leverage our leadership and submission for maximum results.
Add to this list of burden versus servanthood guidelines and I’ll post them at a later date.