Monday, October 23, 2006


There is a "Law of Exchange" at work on all of our relationships. I'm not saying that this is good or bad, just that it "is." The law says that every human interaction is an exchange, or a trade. The goal is to make good exchanges, and avoid bad ones. The "Law of Exchange" can inform your ministry activities.

What is really happening when someone attends a weekly service at your Worship Center? They are making an exchange. They are exchanging their time, for what will hopefully be "worth" more than their time; an encounter with God. People may cease to attend when they no longer feel that the exchange is "paying off" or "worth it."

When you recruit someone for a ministry role an exchange is taking place. You are asking them to give up freedoms, but in exchange for what? There could be many answers, including a) an opportunity to be in close community with others, b) a chance to "get in the game", c) the reward of making a contribution to something eternal, etc. But if you don't share with the person what the potential exchange might be, you have a much lower chance of being successful in recruiting them.

Knowing what another person views as an excellent exchange can be very helpful in your dealings with them. For instance, some people will walk across hot coals for a simple pat on the back (appreciation being the currency for which they are willing to give up comfort). As you become a student of people, you become fluent in the various "values" with which people operate.

Personally, you are making exchanges all the time. As a leader, you will become more effective when you make better exchanges, with greater payoff. For instance, you could fill your weekly calendar with counseling appointments. But in effect, you are exchanging vast amounts of time that could be used for teaching and leadership development, for pastoral care. Is this a good exchange? Maybe. Maybe not. But artful leaders at least ask the question, and about a wide range of topics, including ministerial meetings, long lunches and civic clubs. If the payoff is not there (if it doesn't "help move the ball down the field") they don't make the transaction.

Think about the day that you have planned tomorrow. What are the exchanges that you will be making? Are they worth it?

Think about the last interaction you had with someone in your ministry. What exchanges were made? Were they good ones?

No comments: