For the last three years I have made two trips per year to Venezuela to teach leadership for EQUIP. I have had the privilege of spending time with hundreds of leaders from this country that are making a difference in churches, businesses and many local organizations. With EQUIP, we are teaching John Maxwell’s material from books he has written. There are four separate conference locations here in Venezuela and I have had the privilege to speak at three of those. I have visited with churches, met with pastors and business leaders, eaten with families and had the opportunity to build many relationships that will last my life time. Though I am the one that comes here to teach, I always leave having learned something and I am always inspired to be a better leader where I serve. There are several things I have noticed that I want to share with you that I hope will inspire you as well.
I have spent the most time in four churches here in Venezuela. Two of them are relatively new church plants and the other two churches have been established for many years. All four of them are thriving and growing and affecting their community. The insights I will share here do not just apply to the newer churches or just to the older churches. It is a culture that these successful churches have cultivated in their community of believers.
Serving without complaining
Each of these churches have high capacity volunteers, in large numbers, that serve gladly without complaining. The spirit they serve with is infectious. These people work other jobs during the week, but they tirelessly work to build the kingdom. Each of these churches have multiple services. The smallest of the 4 has about 300 people and the largest has over 6,000 people. Their volunteers serve multiple services, stay on Sunday afternoon for training meetings to build their area of service, work diligently to make the church the best place in town, do community service activities and they do it all without complaining. In all of my visits, I have never heard a single person complain about being tired, or having too much to do, or being “burned out”. I watched yesterday in all 3 services volunteers work like ants to present the church and Christ in the best method possible. I arrived at 7:30 AM and left around 5:30 PM and most of the volunteers that were there at 7:30 AM were still there at 5:30 PM with the same smile and energy they had when I arrived. This church had about 600 people in attendance yesterday and at 5:30 PM there were still about 150 volunteers there in a class learning how to be better leaders and how to make their church a better place.
All of us fall prey to complaining from time to time. My experience and my observations are that our organizations (churches, businesses, families, etc) are better when we serve without complaining. As we are inspired, we inspire others. As we serve others with energy, others want to serve with energy. Let us be infectious with a serving attitude that does not complain.
Serving with few resources
The cost of living in Venezuela is more than in the US. Things are not cheap (other than gas). They do not have access easily to affordable technology or buildings. I have been amazed at the cost of real estate or construction here. That being said, I am also amazed at what they can accomplish with much less resources than we have. The church I was at yesterday in El Hatilla, CCE, has moved to a new building they have purchased so the church can grow. They cannot use the building permanently yet because it needs a lot of work. They are setting up each week to have services. As best I can I will give you a picture. There is a large hole in the middle of the roof, maybe 20 x 20. The roof leaks in certain spots. But such volunteer effort has been put into the services that you almost do not even notice. Their music was awesome, videos excellent, greeters and ushers wonderful, children’s ministry great (since I preached it was probably just OK). They were innovative, creative and resourceful.
With all of our blessings and resources we have at our disposal, we need to use more innovation, creativity and resourcefullness to accomplish more. Instead of always looking for money to pay for more, let’s work to make more of what we have.
Serving to lead and leading to serve
My final observation is this: they serve to lead and they lead to serve. These churches are serving so diligently because they have such a focus to lead their communities to Christ. Everything they do is focused like a laser to reach people for the kingdom. Not only do they serve to lead, but they lead to serve. What I mean by that is they are hungry to become better leaders so they can serve better. I see pastors who are already doing more than me and pastoring churches many times larger than mine or running businesses much larger than mine, sit and listen and take notes so they can grow as a leader. They are not satisfied to stay where they, no matter how much they have achieved. They desire to grow and be better leaders so they can be better servants.
I want to learn everyday. I want to become a better leader so I can become a better servant. I want to serve to lead and lead to serve. My challenge to you is to always be growing as a leader. As you grow as a leader, you become a better servant.
My prayer is that all of us will learn to serve without complaining, make more with what we already have and we learn to always grow as a leader so we become better servants!