I don’t know anyone who starts out in ministry saying, “I don’t want to stay anywhere very long. I’d rather be at each church a couple of years and then move on.”
On the contrary, most people want to be somewhere a long time, at least that would be our aspiration. We would choose stability for our families and the security of long-standing relationships.
But there are risks to being somewhere for a long time. If you are at a place where your two years have turned into five, and might keep going, it might be helpful to remember these.
- The work could become so routine that it loses its freshness.
You know you are here when the most asked question you have for your leader is, “What did we do last year?” Your week becomes so routine that it feels like a rerun of the movie “Groundhog Day.” The scariest part of this reality is that in order for your church to make any adjustments to their worship ministry, they will have to move you out, because you have been unwilling to grow and change yourself. They may love you, but they may move on to a new leader just to restart something that has become stale.
- You could get stuck with your approach and stop developing your own skill set.
Your approach was new when you were new. But that’s where it stopped. You go to the same conferences every year and listen to the same leaders all the time. There are no fresh ideas, no personal musical and spiritual growth. Your favorite axiom is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” while your church leaders might be saying, “If it ain’t growing, it’s dying.”
Keep growing. Keep developing. Learn something new this month.
- You could be taking on water in some of your key relationships.
In a longer tenure, your honeymoon start is long over, and the benefit of the doubt has either been strengthened by your faithful service or depleted. Relationships have either grown or become more difficult. You are setting yourself up for this risk if you have a better relationship to the work than with the people you lead. Eventually – no matter how awesome your productions are – your relationship accounts will be overdrawn.
Every leader should desire longer tenure in their ministry assignments. Of course, God is the authority over tenure. We have to trust Him with the course of our lives. But, if you aspire for a ministry that stays, remain aware of the risks of longer tenure and build a ministry that can be sustained for the glory of God.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.