The college and pro football seasons are coming to a close. I spent my weekend watching my two favorite teams go down in flames. Its rough, but at least I knew definitively they did not win. Now I can move on. But it’s not always that easy in ministry.
How do you define a win or loss in ministry?
Many of us don't even know what a win looks like. We could go weeks, months, or even years without knowing whether we’ve had a win or not. After all, our goal is to create life-long disciples of Christ. We will be long gone by the time the “final whistle” is blown for the students we’re ministering to.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have victories along the way.
Even though my teams lost this weekend, they still had many great moments that had me jumping up and down and trying not to wake my sleeping kids. Your ministry has moments, both big and small, that are worth jumping up and down about. You just need to recognize them and celebrate them.
We’re not alone in the struggle to identify wins. We see a similar scenario in the Bible in Luke 10. As you read through the Gospels, you have to wonder how Jesus maintained His sanity as he spent three years with the disciples. They had to be 12 of the most frustrating and aggravating people to work with. They rarely understood what Jesus was talking about. They normally acted in ways counter to what Jesus was teaching. Then, when Jesus needed them the most, they all scattered. Not a whole lot of victories to be celebrating with these guys!
But in Luke 10, Jesus sends out the disciples on a mission. This is their first foray into the world without Jesus with them. Jesus knew it wouldn’t be easy; He even compared their mission to sheep among the wolves! Somehow, someway, they did it, and when they came back you can almost picture Jesus smiling and applauding the disciples as they shared with wide eyes the great things they did in His name. It even says that Jesus was “filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit” at this point. Jesus knew how to celebrate the victories of His disciples.
We need to celebrate wins in our ministry. They help encourage us and those around us, they remind us of what our ministries are really about, and they help others to see the value in what we have given our lives for.
So, here are three ways you can celebrate the wins in your ministry…
- Notice student’s small victories. First thing Monday morning, take time to celebrate the ways you saw your students grow in the past week. Create a “victory board” where you post things you or your team has noticed. Celebrate small wins like a girl praying out loud for the first time, having the one trouble maker ask a deep and thoughtful question, or a guy standing up for his faith even in little ways. This probably shouldn’t be a public thing (posting on the front of the church that little Timmy has beaten his porn addiction won’t make Timmy your biggest fan), but just something you use to remember you and your team are making a difference.
- Savor successful ministry moments. Did you have a great week of camp or mission trip? Have your students brought a lot of new visitors lately? Was your latest event a smashing success? Did you have a lesson that just rocked? Celebrate those good times! We spend enough time beating ourselves up. Spend a few moments to “spike the football” after a touchdown.
- Promote big life changes. If you have a student come to Christ, or totally turn his or her life around in other areas, don’t be afraid to share those stories (with the student’s permission of course). These stories get everyone excited about what’s going on in your ministry, and these “victories” are contagious.
It is way too easy to see all the bad that’s happening. It takes effort to find victories in your ministry.
Celebrate all the great things going on in your ministry and see all that God is doing - both great and small.