Calling, Purpose and Ministry Fit for Retention

Improper Ministry Fit can be a Death Sentence to Workers
One of the core elements of resiliency is a sense of purpose.

This is fulfilled by being graced with responsibilities and commensurate authority to fulfill those responsibilities that match ones spiritual gifts, skills, personality and sense of what God has asked one to gives one’s life to as closely as is possible.

That’s a long sentence. Let’s break it down.

Responsibilities and Authority
If someone is given a job, then let them do the job. That means make decisions, spend money and manage details without having to ask for permission constantly. Of course, there are organizational restrictions such as values, missional objectives, budgets, procedures, protocol and policies. Get staff up to speed on all that, provide supervision and feedback, but then set them loose to go do the job. Sure they’ll make mistakes. That is how we all learn and grow.

Responsibilities that Match Gifting, Skills and Personality 
Too often organizations have a bunch of proverbial round holes to fill and square pegs are squashed into them so the holes are filled.

The classic scenario is field leadership. All of us have seen again and again some poor person made the field leader simply because they have tenure. Whether they are gifted as a leader, have leadership skills and the right personality to navigate the complexities of leadership don’t seem to be considered. The hole has to be plugged, so plug it. I cannot count the number of field leaders I have spoken to over the years who have expressed exasperation at being put in that role. This is a set up for failure.

The objective is to place people in roles that they are gifted, trained and passionate about. That sense of purpose fulfillment will carry folks through a great deal of struggles along the way.

That Vague Thing of Calling
Calling is that sense of what God has clearly told you, with other’s affirmation and guidance, to give your life to. Its that work that if you do not do, you will feel like you are not living life as you should. Of necessity you have to do it. It may be for a stage of life, but it is real in that time period.  If we do not do what God has asked us to give our lives to, the inner dissonance will take its toll.

Not a Perfect World, But…
Yes, it is easy to speak in terms of ideals. There are times we all have to do some work that is outside our sweet spot. However, that cannot go on for long. It must be stop gap at best or the data shows people will seek a better fit elsewhere. Like leave the field….


What if You Feel Misfit?
It behooves us to be excellent students of ourselves. Take those assessments even if you don’t like them. StrengthFinders is great place to start. A trained StrengthFinders coach can be a coup of insight into where you will be most fruitful.

Can you articulate clearly what God has asked you to do? Write it down. Pray over it. Let it sit for a while. Come back to it and if it burns in you, then who can you talk to about that?

What other suggestions for role fit do you have?

This entry was posted in Shepherding Well. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Calling, Purpose and Ministry Fit for Retention

  1. Steven Edward Knudtsen says:

    Thank you for this blog. As you mentioned it is an ideal we would all strive for. My wife and I do member care for TEAM in Asia. We have noticed that the traditional leader of yesteryear is fast fading into the sunset. Capable, called leaders are not surfacing as quickly as the demand calls for. We visit the Philippines periodically because we spent 25 yrs. there before moving to Thailand and beginning an ‘on loan’ relationship to TEAM. Bethany Int. started a church planting work in Occidental Mindoro back in the 70s that is fully nationalized now. They have an association of churches that is loosely connected in a denomination like structure. Every two years they elect a new leader from among the pastors of the churches. The fellow that just finished his term as president this year did not want the job in 2015 when he was voted in. He did not have the natural talents of a leader and told the others so. Their response: we’ll help you in the areas where you feel weak. There was no sense of competition for the role – almost the reverse. Who needs leadership training skills built into his life and ministry. Perhaps in this new environment we need to be looking at leadership of the day to day responsibilities as something we all need skills in. Of course the strategic planning needs someone who is anointed for this but there are a lot of skills that can be learned. Food for thought … Steve Knudtsen


    • Scott S says:


      Thank you for your comment and sharing your personal experiences. There is much in your statements to reflect upon.

      My personal experience is that most organizations and churches experience a “leadership crisis” in that the existing leadership does not see that one of its priority opportunities and responsibilities is to identify emerging leaders – men and women – whom to pour into relationally over years. Without out this relational, non-formal process, existing leaders move on and the church/org is left with the void, a crisis to find another leader. This is the realty of sending agencies and inadequate leaders for all the structures that are created.

      Of course there must be identified gifts, learned skills and the grace of the Spirit’s anointing to confirm emerging leaders as God’s person(s) for the next generation. I see that as one of the primary roles of the existing leaderships at all levels of an org. Much to ponder in all this for sure.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.



  2. Tim Patterson says:

    Are you aware of the DISC personality test?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s