10 Tips for Ministry Excellence

10 Tips for Ministry Excellence
August 3, 2010 Sue Brage

Before I share today’s list with you, I want to clarify something. I believe it is good to work towards excellence; I do not believe it’s good to expect perfection, whether you are talking about your volunteers, your family, or yourself!

The purpose behind today’s 10 Tips is to smooth out potential rough spots giving you a baseline from which to operate. Consider this your own church leadership development program to help you identify and strengthen your leadership style and leadership traits.

These tips are what I consider, “best practices” for ministry leaders.

1. Put God first.

Prioritize your personal spiritual growth. Often we get so caught up caring for the spiritual needs of others that we forget about our own. You need nourishment from God every day to be a successful leader.

2. Connect with people — before projects.

Talk to a co-worker. Pray for someone. Call your kids or spouse. Facebook a friend. This personal connection can reengage your heart and focus your mind.

3. Order each day.

Always work from a task list or to do list of some sort. Prioritize your list (and reprioritize as the day goes on). This simple habit keeps you grounded as “emergencies” pop up!

4. Have impeccable manners.

Send thank you cards. Write encouraging notes for your volunteers’ birthdays. Be on time. Good manners communicate respect and value to the people you lead and work with.

5. Be professional

Return emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Be courteous and cheerful. Control your emotions in ministry settings as much as possible.

6. Be accountable

Seth Godin says anonymity is the enemy of civility. When you give others permission to monitor your performance, you will be more aware of your own practices.

7. Make allowance for your leadership style

Notice, I did not say make excuses. Making allowance means you understand your weaknesses and have a strategy for dealing with them. Learn to operate in your strengths as much possible and how to manage your weaknesses.

8. Have grace and patience when dealing with people.

People are difficult, rude, and insensitive at times. This should not surprise you! Have a mindset that you are going to remain patient and merciful regardless of other people’s actions or attitudes.

9. Remember, it’s never the snow.

I heard this story from a past Winter Olympics. Conditions were horrible and most skiers were losing control, going off course, or wiping out. The gold-medalist’s perspective? “It’s never about the snow. The only issue is how well you ski the conditions.” In other words, realize that you can’t control what happens; you can only control how you respond to what happens.

10. Listen more. Talk less

If you talk too much, change that. Don’t dominate conversations or control meetings by talking more than others. You will be a better leader when you truly listen to the people around you.


  1. Andee Marks 14 years ago

    Sue, I definitely appreciate your clarification at the outset of your article! I worked for a perfectionist for 10 years and it was incredibly difficult at times. There is nothing perfect about people, and when working in a church, that’s what you are mostly dealing with!
    These are excellent suggestions and I intend to keep them where I can see them regularly!

  2. sueb 14 years ago

    Thanks Andee! You are absolutely right, there is nothing perfect about people. And often we confuse working towards excellence with expecting perfection!

  3. tim 14 years ago

    This list reminds me of something my paster recently said. “Are you trying or in training to do ________________?” This is a great training list. Anyone can try, and that’s kind of a cop out. To be in training involves having a game plan. Thanks for providing one!

  4. Bob D'Ambrosio 14 years ago

    Number 2 speaks loud and clear to me! People first–in order to grow disciples!

  5. sueb 14 years ago

    from one of our readers:

    I loved your 10 tips for Ministry Excellence – they are perfect tips for dealing with everyday living too! I especially love #9. My husband has “The Scoutmaster Minute” at the end of every weekly Scout Troop Meeting, and I sent #9 to him to use this year once the meetings resume in the fall. Thank you…

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