Four Assessment Concepts

               Although it seems no one really knows for sure, the calendar says Winter is over here in Edmonton. The snow is gone for the moment and trees are beginning to turn green, yet for the moment most people around me are not wearing shorts or flip flops.

               As winter wains and I await the early rays of the sun today, a paradigm struck me as possibly putting in my blog. The word picture is that of my driveway covered in snow and the task of removing the snow, which is a not so distant memory. My driveway is not large. It would be completely covered by two twenty-four foot travel trailers side by side. I live in a duplex and the driveway to our front double garage is attached to my neighbour’s driveway. This requires me to remove all the snow to one side. If the snow blows from the North it works to my advantage as I can put my back to the wind and each scoop of snow is directed into the only direction I can toss it. A South wind, on the other hand, would likely require a face covering of some sort. There is also a short walkway around to the front door. When snow came this year, which seemed often, I was anxious to fetch the shovel before vehicle tracks would pack the white stuff down.

               The snow removal task would be different depending on the type of snow that fell from the sky. If it was cold enough, dry light snow could be easily moved off with a blower or a quick sweeping by the shop broom. If it was wet, deep, and heavy, then the arms worked much harder.

               There are four simple concepts here: task, capacity, fit, and motivation. The task is to remove the snow. The capacity relates to physical strength, size of shovel or tools available. Then there is the fit between the task and the ability/skill to do the task. Finally motivation is the internal driving interest and internal energy source to engage the task.

               My role frequently involves me formally or informally assessing ministry and its ministers. For me these four concepts mentioned correlate to ministry. What is the task, the capacity, the fit and the motivation for ministry work? Defining and assessing these four aspects of one’s current or future setting is certainly helpful, much like Jesus’ drawing attention to counting the cost when building or engaging in battle.

               To bring this into the real world, here are some of my biased opinions out of which we can address these four concepts: Many unknowningly use the modern corporate world as their ministry model. It has for years been pulled into ‘church culture’. My bias is that a ministry leader does better if he or she views himself or herself as a family member rather than a business executive. Approaching ministry with the perception that one has a people to fix rather than a family to love will give different outcomes and a different path to walk. More than building systems or buildings, God’s people need someone who exemplifies and encourages the development of the fruit of the Spirit in people’s lives. It must be quality over outcome, expectations of Christian character over tangible successes. There is still room for the strong leader or personality, but he or she must fit who they are within the family dynamic of ministry with mutual accountability.

               So using those thoughts or perhaps your own setting, what is the real task of ministry? What is the capacity of the leader for the task? What is the right fit of person to the given ministry setting? What are the driving motivations for doing the work of the ministry? I think these are interesting questions for many ministries and ministers.

               My driveway does not need someone with a spoon or a garden trowel. Neither does it need a backhoe or a highway snowplow. It occasionally needs a snow shovel, some gloves, a coat, a hat, some muscles, and some ambition to get to the office. However if there is a South wind … I just might take another coffee and think about it for a while longer.