Ministry Leadership as Foil

Ismene and Antigone, Antigone
I think part of ministry is being a foil to the your ministry team.

In drama and literature, a foil is a character who is contrasted with the main character to bring to the surface a particular quality. Think Watson to Sherlock or Ismene to Antigone (pictured). Or more contemporary, Locke to Jack in Lost or Wilson to House in House.  Because the first character is such a contrast to the second, their qualities are more pronounced.

A few months ago, I got onto the youth during church for talking and texting during church service. They didn't change their behavior. The next Sunday their Sunday School teacher mentioned it during their lesson. They stopped (well, they stopped doing it obviously, which is well enough).

Yesterday the senior high youth had their Sunday School teacher back after a 3 week hiatus, during which period I taught the class, much to their groans. They came out saying that they had the best lesson, updated their facebook statuses to say so, and actually quoted their lesson back to me.

Now, it may be that I'm a terrible disciplinarian and youth minister. Or it may be that leadership isn't about being a perfect leader or all things to all people. Maybe it is about realizing who can teach your charges what, and doing all you can to empower them, even if you lose some street cred of your own in the process. After all, the laity will be in the local church longer than the ordained clergy.

Too often ministry leaders get their egos swelled by their own abilities.  So maybe it's OK to be a foil, to be the opposite and play the unpopular roles, so that your own ministry team's qualities are made more evident to the youth and to the team itself.

What unpopular role is needed in your group that might expose powerful gifts to the charges and the charged alike?


Larry C July 20, 2010 at 10:14 AM  

Great Post. Sometimes we loose track of why, and who, we are serving in the first place. Kingdom work rtequires humble thoughtful action.

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