I’m often asked why some church leaders seem to stall or lose traction in their ministry.
There can be many reasons, but sometimes I’ve found it’s because they were caught watching their pass.
Hockey fans know what I’m talking about. It’s what happens when a player focuses their attention on a great play they’ve just made, rather than keeping their head up, alertly anticipating what’s coming up next.
Consider the case of Dan Hamhuis of the Vancouver Canucks. In a game on February 9, 2011 against the Anaheim Ducks, Hamuis was flattened by a thundering body check by Ryan Getzlaf, suffering a concussion that kept him on the sidelines for two weeks.
After the game Hamuis’ own coach, Alain Vigneault assessed the play this way; “I thought it was a good hit by a big player,” said Vigneault. “Dan (Hamhuis) was watching his pass.”
The same thing can happen in leadership. After a season where great Kingdom strides were made, leaders can find themselves not looking ahead to where the Lord is calling next, but instead focusing on the past. In other words, they can be caught watching their pass.
Recently I visited a church that seemed to be in a season of decline. The pastor toured the facility with me, and when he showed me the impressive auditorium he paused, looked around somewhat wistfully and said, “We don’t fill this place much anymore.” Then he added with a hint of nostalgia in his voice, “But there was a day…” His voice trailed off.
Sometimes you can tell if you’re watching your pass simply by paying attention to how your language has changed. A few warning signs can be;
- When “There was a day…” replaces “I have a dream!”
- When “It used to be…” replaces “I believe it could be…”
- When “Remember when…” replaces “Imagine if…!”
If you think you might be in a state of ministry decline or plateau, examine closely the kind of language being used these days. If nostalgia is replacing vision, you might be watching your pass.
So keep your head up; you never know what’s coming at you next.
How do you prevent nostalgia from placing vision?