In a lot of ways, yesterday was a Bloody Wednesday in Bristol Connecticut. Up to 100 people were released from their employment at ESPN. This isn't the first purge from the Worldwide Leader. In 2013 and 2015 a number of cuts were made. But this one was different, because it impacted on-camera talent. Some of the names released were astounding--long-time, credible, respected men and women like Andy Katz, Danny Kanell, Ed Werder, Dana O'Neill, and Trent Dilfer. Deadspin continues to report the growing list. Many of us who are sports fans have welcomed these faces and voices into our living rooms, offices, and cars over the years.
In the middle of the chaos, a tweet from former NFL quarterback and college analyst Danny Kanell served as a reminder of what's most important. Massive corporate layoffs seem to be a common news report, and with the upheaval comes the impact felt by spouses, families, friends, and the co-workers left behind with survivor guilt.
All of it yesterday serves to show us some important leadership lessons in ministry.
1. None of us are irreplaceable - This morning ESPN went on with its programming. When I resigned from my previous two ministry assignments, the next Sunday things went on. No matter what role we fill, none of us are more important than the Kingdom. God is faithful to His promise to His Bride, and what's humbling is He doesn't need us to make it happen.
2. We are all interims - I've met guys who held ministry positions for decades at the same location. I've spent time with people who literally married and buried multiple generations. And when they left where they'd served, someone else came in. In a lot of ways, all of us are interims. We're called for a season, but eventually we'll find ourselves nervously reading a letter.
3. Our identity shouldn't be found in our role - When we seek to find our identity in what we do, rather than who we are (and whose we are), we're setting ourselves up for a crash. Our primary identity as ministry leaders isn't as pastor, youth leader, worship pastor, or intern. It's primarily as a Child of God. Second, it's as a spouse and parent. Third, it's in our role in ministry leadership.
4. Difficult moments serve to sharpen our faith - A couple weeks ago I had a great talk with a guy seeking God's will for ministry. During the call, something just resonated: God doesn't send us to the path of least resistance, everything that happens to us is meant to make us more like Christ. Moments that happen in ministry like crisis, transitions, changes, and conflicts are all part of God's plan for our sanctification--even when it doesn't make sense.
5. Enjoy the ride - For so many who shared about their layoff from ESPN, they talked about the joy of being part of something special, working alongside special people. Sometimes in ministry leadership we need to step back and enjoy the ride God has us on. We need to see the great people He's surrounded us with, to appreciate His provision and kindness to us, and to marvel and what He has and will accomplish through us. It's pretty cool getting a front row seat to the Kingdom expanding.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.