Thick Skin, Soft Heart
The slogan of Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights was "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." This was something often repeated through the show to emphasize what it took to win. If we were to take the same concept and apply it to ministry leadership, it'd be "Thick Skin, Soft Heart, Can't Give Up."
Thick Skin - Leaders who accomplish anything will find themselves taking barbs. It's inevitable. In fact, if you want to avoid any criticism, the answer is simple: Do nothing. Nothing never leads to conflict. Nothing just leads to more nothing. As a leader, you can't allow those criticisms to get to you. You need thick skin to absorb and not allow critics math (see below) to take over. Leaders with thin skin take everything personally, obsess over each critical comment, or feel the need to respond or lash back.
Remember: the person who made the sharp comment to you more than likely moved on from it on their way to the parking lot.
Soft Heart - In ministry you're going to deal with the muddy mess. You'll have families falling apart, funerals, medical emergencies, spiritual crises, and requests for financial assistance. And in those moments we can't allow our hearts to become hard. It's the corollary to having thick skin. A soft heart is able to lead graciously, to shepherd well, and to respond with empathy to problems (even when they're self-inflicted).
Can't Give Up - Guys, don't give up. God called you. God sustains you. God will be with you. God has promised that He'll faithfully finish what He started in you. Don't give up. Don't look for greener grass somewhere else. Don't take the church as a mistress at the expense of your family. And don't give up. Keep a soft heart, you need it to love people through the mess. Keep thick skin, you need it to lead courageously. And you can't give up.
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.