Posted by: Nathan | July 5, 2010

keep it simple. part 4. :: Boil it Down

As campus ministers our roles can best be defined by their broad complexity.  In my early days on staff I found it easier to tell people what I didn’t do than explain all that I did.

As time goes on this massive swath of responsibilities starts to wear us down, and whether it be from the wisdom of growing older or from necessity –  what once energized us now becomes the largest reason we question our calling.

“How much longer can I do it all?”

“Don’t they understand how much I do for this place?”

“When do I get my break?”

So we have a decision to make.  Either we give some responsibility away, or we lose our souls trying to save the world.  This is when boiling down our gifts and responsibilities becomes not just something lazy leaders do, but a necessity to further live out our calling.

Boiling Down” is a cooking term that refers to the simmering of a soup, stew, sauce, or gravy to deepen or intensify its flavors.  When one of these dishes is too thin – too watered down – to be good to eat it must be boiled down so that it can reach its full potential.  The flavors and textures becomes richer and more vibrant when over time the essence of the dish – what makes it what it is – is condensed through the boiling process.

No, you didn’t stumble onto the Food Network website (one of my favorites, by the way).  This principle has great value in examining our role as leaders within our ministry.

While a doing-it-all-myself attitude most likely got all of our ministries to where they are today, for many of us the time has come to let our leadership boil down. Hopefully we have assembled (or are starting to assemble) a team around us that will allow us to focus on the specific gifts and roles that we are best.  Gone are the days of balancing the ministry budget, preparing the sermon, leading a bible study, tuning our guitar for worship…all in the same day.  Or week.  Or month.

If you’re like me and you’re becoming a campus ministry veteran than consider this your challenge to begin to “Boil it Down” this summer and fall.

Start dreaming about what area of ministry has God given you the most passion for:  Speaking?  Worship?  Discipleship?  Administration?  The Arts? Examining how you can begin spending more of your time each week on that task.  Then start pinpointing people in your life who are gifted in the areas you need to begin releasing.

If you’re new to campus ministry then know that the season of ‘do-it-all-myself’ is often a necessary one to jump start your ministry and get everything into place.  God gifted you as a leader to do a variety of things well. Do them to the best of your ability! But start looking into the future 2, 5, 10 years. Who in your circle of influence can you start training and releasing ministry too? What area would you love to spend most of your energy?

Every leader comes to the point where they are too thin to be effective.  To reach our fullest potential we must start to boil off the things that can be better done by others, and focus in on what God has created us to be!


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