This week I spent four days with key staff and an outside consultant probing areas of necessary growth and development for our organization. As one who does a fair amount of consulting I know the value of an outside voice that asks good questions, challenges the status quo and can help a ministry team think outside their usual parameters. They also bring the dimension of knowledge of what others are doing.
Too often in ministry we isolate ourselves out of fear (what if others discover what I don't know) or out of hubris (we don't need outside help). In either case we and our ministry loses. Humility and a commitment to learn is the attitude of healthy leaders and they welcome the voices of others who can challenge prevailing thinking, ask the hard why questions, clarify issues that are not truly clear and help develop new ways of thinking, new tools for success and in doing so bring new insights to the table.
A consultant can be a fellow pastor or ministry leader that you respect and who has obvious expertise. It can be someone who you pay for their services. In my case, it is someone who normally consults for large businesses in lean manufacturing and lean management who is helping us with what we call a Ministry Excellence initiative. We pay the going rate for his services and have over the past two years of relationship benefited immensely.
Humble leaders and organizations are committed to continuous learning, regular evaluation, ministry results, clarity of purpose, healthy teams and culture - all for the sake of seeing a maximum return on mission for Jesus and the mission He has called us to.
To those who have never had an outside voice speak into your ministry I would say, overcome your fear or pride and try it. You will be surprised by the insights you gain and the ideas that are generated. All of us get stuck in our own ruts, habits, and assumptions. An outside voice can help you find new paths.