Preparing for What You Can’t Prepare For

I have always said that one of the unique things about ministry is that you have absolutely no idea what a day may hold. My weirdest ministry day happened over ten years ago when a non-custodial parent from Canada showed up at our church in Alabama with his children who he had taken from the mother. (That whole story would be an entire blog post all on its own!)

One of my takeaways from that incredibly strange day is that somehow in ministry we have to be prepared for situations that can not be prepared for. Easy, huh?

I have been in ministry for over fifteen years and have a seminary degree. Never in any of that experience or education was I trained on identifying, reporting, and participating in the arrest of a kidnapping suspect. After this many years serving in the church I could probably come up with an extensive and entertaining list of all of the things I did not learn in seminary. So could you.

That’s my point.

I am a big believer in learning. I believe everyone in leadership should actively pursue opportunities to be better at what they do. Leaders should read ALOT. Leaders should attend conferences, listen to podcasts, and study leadership in any avenue possible. The wider your base of knowledge is, the more prepared you will be. But, again, not every situation will be addressed in those sources.

  • What do you do when your town erupts into crisis?
  • How do you handle the extreme situation that unexpectedly presents itself on a random Wednesday night?
  • What do you say to the parent who is a mess before you and is sharing things you never expected to hear?
  • How do you handle the unexpected emergency and everyone is looking you to lead the way?

Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.”

You will encounter ministry situations that you can not Google and find an answer. The only way to prepare for the things you can’t prepare for is to seek God’s wisdom now before the crisis hits.

We can read all the blogs, all the books, and know lots of information but if God doesn’t give us wisdom we won’t have it. Period. And to do ministry well, to be prepared for the things you can’t be prepared for, to serve people in all of their awkward and unexpected situations, we desperately need wisdom.

  • Ask God.  A lot.  James 1:5 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God”. That is not complicated, but are we intentional about it? Yes, we ask God for wisdom in the moment and as we are making pressing decisions. But are we seeking Him to fill us with His wisdom so that we are prepared for those situations we could never anticipate? Proverbs describes seeking wisdom as seeking precious jewels. That is not a one and done thing. That is a hunt and a process.
  • Study Scripture and not just to write a lesson. You can’t expect God to give you wisdom apart from consistently absorbing His Word. Matthew 12:34 says, “the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” When you are in pressure situations, it is best for your heart, mind, and soul to be filled up with Scripture so that the words, thoughts, and actions that overflow out reflect God’s Word and His wisdom.
  • Continue to value learning. Make it your own responsibility to expand your knowledge base both widely and deeply. Wisdom is more
  • Hang with wise people and ask wise questions. Identify people in your world who you see functioning in wisdom. Spend time with them. Ask questions about how and why they handle situations in their lives.
  • Don’t ever presume you’ve got it altogether. I think a sure sign that we are lacking wisdom is when we start believing we have all the answers. Be confident only in the Provider of wisdom. Be confident in your reliance on Christ and not your own wealth of  knowledge. True wisdom produces humility.

 

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