3 Ways Ministry is Like Directing Traffic…


A few weeks ago, I snuck away to watch a movie on my sabbath. While I was there, the mall lost power, thus ending the movie a bit too early. Joe was none too happy about it, so I left quickly after getting my rain check from the theater. On my way home, I found out that the whole section of town lost power, and the police were scrambling to direct traffic. It made me realize something; as a pastor, I am a lot like a traffic cop.

In my church, I am blessed with a good number of people who are sharp, and eager to serve and lead within the church. Some of them are stay at home moms. Others are retired business leaders. I’ve got farmers, teachers, accountants, and engineers, all of whom are ready to serve and lead within the church. Here’s where it gets scary:

They’re just waiting on me to direct them where to go and what to do.

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Here are a few reasons why ministry is a lot like directing traffic:

People look to you for guidance and direction – Going to a crowded intersection with no power or cop can be intimidating. Sure, there are rules and guidelines for navigating it, but one mistake and suddenly you have a much bigger problem on your hands. That’s why people listen to the traffic cops guidance; they direct the situation so that everyone goes home safely.

Similarly, people in churches look to the pastor for guidance because the pastor sees the bigger picture and is trying to direct where people go and when they go. The fact is that, much like a traffic situation, someone has to direct the flow of traffic. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with a dozen cars going in six different directions all at once.

Decisiveness is key – Imagine seeing a traffic cop who hesitated directing cars. I mean, they stand in the middle of the intersection trying to figure out which car should go next, but can’t make up their mind. They start to wave one car through, but someone else starts to go, so the cop freezes and can’t make up their mind.

Full disclosure, I don’t like telling people to do because it feels like I’m micromanaging and stifling their creative initiative. (Or rather, that’s how it would feel to me). I’m fully capable of planning and organizing events, parties, and so on. For whatever reason though, I just wind up mostly feeling bossy leading in the church.

The thing is, the longer I wane back and forth about making a decision or offering guidance about when and where to go, the more likely I am to cause confusion among the leaders. If I fail to decide, the “cars” stop. This creates a frustrating atmosphere where no one is sure what to do.

Fear is normal, but it can kill – Standing in the middle of traffic has got to be somewhat unnerving at first. One missed cue and a car could be coming at you by accident. And if drivers get overly impatient, the risk for cops goes up. It’s normal to be somewhat scared when there’s that kind of risk involved. But without someone being out there, things go from bad to worse.

If I mess up directing ministry, people may wind up with hurt feelings or even a hurt faith. There are definitely stakes to ministry. But imagine what happens if I don’t direct the ministry? A dozen leaders doing six different things all at the same time. Fear is normal, but it can kill ministry if you’re not careful.

I hope this helps y’all in your ministry.

Anything you disagree with? Let me know.

Any questions? Leave them below.

And remember, I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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