A few days ago, I overheard an interview on the radio with a retired leader from NASA who was responsible for multiple shuttle launches throughout his tenure. It was a fascinating interview with lots of practical wisdom, especially in terms of leading in high-pressure situations. There was one thing he said in the interview that stood out above everything else.
When asked about leading the teams responsible for completing a successful space mission, he shared the one thing he would communicate to everyone on his team:
"You must be both responsible for your division, but accountable to the mission."
Even though a specific department might complete their task, if they didn’t align it with the overall mission of the launch, something could go terribly wrong.
As I thought about this, I realized what great advice that is for today’s church leaders. I’ve shared about the dangers of ministry silos before, but this quote summarizes how every staff member within a church should think about their ministry.
One of my favorite resources on this topic is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon realized that, although organizations achieved success through varying means, the one thing they all shared in common is that they tied every decision back to the greater “why.”
In church ministry, people know that they’re responsible for their particular area of ministry—but do they know the greater why for the tasks they complete? Ensuring the overall why of your church will drive everything you do. Remembering that you’re also accountable to the overall mission is something that’s easy to forget in the day-to-day grind.
As a senior pastor or executive team member, it’s your responsibility to remind your staff that in addition to being responsible for their division, they are also accountable to the mission.
As a staff member, it’s your responsibility to never lose sight of the overall mission of your church when leading your specific area of ministry.
If you want your church to operate as efficiently as a team launching a rocket into space, embrace this advice from the leader at NASA and always tie your decisions back to the greater “why,” remembering that you’re always accountable to the overall mission of your church.
How do you intentionally stay accountable to the overall mission despite the challenges of leading your specific ministry?