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What If Your Personal Development Plan Was Better Than Your Ministry Plan?

by Nick Blevins

What do you think of when you think of leftovers?

I think of so many family dinners as a kid where there weren’t many leftovers. Dad and I really liked to eat. Some things never change, I suppose. I also think of times I missed dinner, came home, and only got leftovers. That was definitely not as fun.

My question is this: who gets the leftovers of your leadership?

Maybe you never thought of it in those terms. But, we all have multiple areas of our lives where we should be applying our leadership skills.

We lead ourselves.
We lead in our families.
We lead in our churches.
We lead in community organizations.

Whether we’re the primary leader (as in leading ourselves), or just part of the team, we have opportunities to lead. Anyone who has served in ministry knows there’s rarely an equal distribution between what we give to churches and what we give to everything else. Somebody gets leftovers.

If you’re like me, at some point you probably didn’t apply the same energy and talent toward evaluating, planning and leading yourself as you did for your church. You, your family, and other teams you were part of got the leftovers.

What might it look like if our personal life didn’t get the leftovers?…

 

In our relationship with God

It might look like evaluating our relationship with God as it stands right now. Questions we might ask could include:

  • Do we feel connected to God?
  • Are we communing with God through prayer regularly?
  • How are we engaging in the Bible rhythmically?
  • What is the strategy for making sure our time with God is the top priority?
  • Should we have an entire day each quarter where we disconnect, spend time with God and practice silence and solitude?
  • Who do we personally know who is not connected to Jesus, that we’re praying for and investing in?
  • Do we have a mentor we meet with regularly who can speak into our lives and hold us accountable?

Just like leading in ministry, we may need a new strategy for growth and health.

In our family

Before a new year kicks in, we all probably spend time planning, dreaming, strategizing and working to make sure our ministry will make the most of that year. We set goals, create the calendar, plan times to evaluate, and begin the year with a clear path for growth. What would it look like if we did the same in our families? Our goals and plans might include:

  • Reading four books that year on parenting.
  • Having “couch time” (minimum of 10 minutes) of conversation with our spouse at least five days a week.
  • Planning and going on one-on-one outings with our kids each month.
  • Actually participating in one of the classes or short-term groups our church offers for specific areas, but staff never attends. (Because we have it figured out.)
  • Setting a date night weekly or bi-weekly with our spouse and prioritizing it.
  • Deciding to pursue regular counseling (preventive), before really needing it (corrective).
  • Brainstorming a bucket list of experiences for the year along with a monthly reminder to re-visit it.
  • Looking at the key transitions or milestones coming up in our kid’s lives and preparing in advance how we’ll help them navigate and celebrate it.
  • Having that difficult conversation with our parent or sibling we would absolutely have if there were conflict in our ministry, but somehow avoid when it’s our family.

In our health

Most of us have key vital metrics we monitor in our ministry to help us keep a pulse on health. If we applied our ministry leadership practices to our physical health, we might:

  • Set a goal for how much weight we want to lose and have someone hold us accountable.
  • Plan time to exercise at least three days a week along with a set time, routine and tracking method.
  • Talk with friends to help identify a nutrition plan that works for us.
  • Text an accountability partner everything we eat, every day. (Thanks to Carey Nieuwhof for that idea.)

Our personal life would probably look quite different if we approached it the same way we approach ministry. If we planned, implemented and evaluated the same way, and even prioritized it first before anything else. Something always gets the leftovers, but in my experience, having our priorities right makes everything work.

It’s like leftovers at thanksgiving, which in my family is a great thing. We eat multiple plates in one day. We have turkey sandwiches days later. I’m full all the time. There’s more than enough to go around. It’s funny how that works.

Nick is the children and student’s team leader at Community Christian Church in Baltimore, MD. Nick is married to a beautiful and talented woman named Jennifer and they have one son named Isaac. You can reach Nick on his blog, or via Twitter.

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