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Fool On The Hill » Blog Archive » Sheepdogs and Dachshunds – a Leadership Challenge

Over the course of my career I have attended many teambuilding and management training courses. One of the exercises that I always enjoyed was determining your personality type (and that of your coworkers). This work is based on the observations of many very smart people like Jung and Myers-Briggs. It goes something like this:

Personality Types

Sanguine (Promoting)
Melancholic (Controlling)
Phlegmatic (Analyzing)
Choleric (Supporting)

I always had trouble remembering those names and what they stood for until I attended a course that described them as different animals. Something clicked and I’ve never forgotten them.

Personality Types

Golden Retriever

This animal analogy immediately came to mind as I began to study what goes into the makeup of a ministry leader. I believe there are two basics types of ministry leaders in the church today:

 Ministry Leader Types

Sheep Dogs – It’s all about the lambs (ministry)
Dachshunds – It’s all about the job (results)

I’ll return to the dogs in a minute, but first let’s look at what churches and ministry in particular are all about. Every organization whether it’s a secular business or a church wants results. Corporations spend millions of dollars on things like High Performance Teambuilding. Baseball is another good example. How does George Steinbrenner get results? He buys them of course. Everyone wants to succeed and win. It’s part of human nature. What is it that drives people to serve the church? Is it Duty, Guilt, Fun, Friendship, Power, Recognition, or even Fortune (I joke)? This drive for results that is built into everyone can cause some major problems when we apply it to ministry. Please pardon the following baseball metaphor, it just fits very well. Our drive for results (getting someone to home plate and scoring a run) can cause us to overlook some very basic needs and ultimately spell disaster for any ministry. Leaders can often become shortsighted and forget about the most basic purpose of the church. This is often evidenced by the placement of people directly onto third base (skipping first and second). They are giving a job to perform and encouraged to run home and score. This is, I believe, the single biggest cause of ‘ministry burnout’.

Baseball Diamond

·         Ministry starts with some very basic needs like friendship

·         ‘Church’ starts to happen when small groups begin to function

·         As small groups mature, a desire to serve should begin to grow

·         Finally results can begin to be seen on the scoreboard

With a small group and friends behind you, the chances for burnout are greatly lessened. Ministries become self-sustaining, it hardly seems like work (a job) and growth is natural.

I’d like to start way back at the very beginning with a few basic questions –

What is the Purpose of Man?

·         Love God (Worship)

·         Love Each Other (Ministry)

Matt 22:37-40  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

What is the Purpose of the Church ?

·         Encouraging everyone to use their gifts in service

·         Evangelism and Discipleship – great commission

1 Cor 12:7  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Cor 14:1  Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts,

1 Cor 14:12  try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

Matt 28:18-20  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This brings us to a very large pitfall that always seems to rear it’s ugly head whenever we strip our purpose down to the essentials – Excellence.  Excellence is so often used as an excuse to shut down ministries that I believe it’s a cancer stalking our church. I worry about it’s inclusion in our purpose statement. Doing things well (with excellence) should be as natural to us as breathing. When we hold it up as a goal it also becomes easy to raise it up as a false god.

Excellence vs. Ministry

Col 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord

1 Cor 13:1-3  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

I believe that excellence will happen naturally and should NEVER be allowed to interfere with the purpose of the church. No one ever wakes up in the morning and decides that they really want to do a crummy job that day. I’ve personally seen several ministries at PAC closed because of a decision that excellence was more important than people and ministry. This brings us back around to the subject of this paper and in case you had forgotten (dachshunds and sheepdogs).

Performance vs. Love

·         What does God want? Both!

·         Whenever one is pitted against the other, something is wrong

·         Excellence should be as natural as breathing

·         Ministry is what we are called for

We must NEVER place performance (excellence) or results (jobs) above our main purpose as leaders in the church. Leaders are called to care for the lambs. Ministry must ALWAYS be about the lambs. Leaders are called to be Sheepdogs. The Dachshund will always seek to hire another Dachshund to get the job done. For a dachshund performance becomes everything. If your ministry team is struggling, offering to pay someone can be the kiss of death. Hiring a dachshund will always displace people who could minister by replacing them with someone who is simply seeking to perform a job. Dachshunds view the flock as ‘messy’.  Dachshunds nip at the feet of the sheep and constantly try to keep them from messing up their excellent work. I strongly believe that dachshunds have no place in the church. We need to be raising up sheepdogs to care for the lambs. The work will get done (even though it’s not the church’s main purpose) and the church will be stronger. Every leader (and staff person) in the church must be a sheepdog or else they are not fulfilling the church’s purpose (even though their work might be excellent).

I’ve collected some quotes from church leaders around the country that speak to this very topic –

“At the end of the day, I believe that process matters just as much as to our Lord as product does.”

“The crew of unpaid people is at the heart of an effective ministry. Ministry for the electronic culture is not about what staff to hire to accomplish the tasks at hand.  It is about empowering laypersons to utilize their gifts in ways they never thought possible for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom.”

“Those of us in leadership are learning to focus on developing other people in their personal ministry rather than on doing it all ourselves or paying an ‘expert’ to do it even though our perception may be that it would be easier that way.”

“My job as a minister is to equip people to do the work of ministry – which means in the tech area, I need to be training volunteers how to use their gifts effectively and passionately for God and for His church, as well as shepherding them in their spiritual growth.”

“When I was hired on staff at my church, the senior pastor met with me and told me something I’ll never forget.  He said, ‘We’re not paying you to get all the work done.  We’re paying you to help the people get all the work done.'”

“Building community among the team is the single most important thing I do.  Everything rises and falls on that.”

“If you feed the sheep they will multiply.”

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