We had a saying in the Marine Corps, “We have been doing so much with so little for so long that we can practically do anything with nothing.” Translation: “Marines do more with less.”
One of the most important skill sets of any great leader is resourcefulness.
History shows resourcefulness has separated ordinary people from those considered heroes. It has been applied to get people out of tight spots, as in the near-fatal Apollo 13 mission. It has also been applied to change the way we travel, as demonstrated by the Wright Brothers.
Scripture too provides us with some great examples of resourcefulness. When a paralyzed man could not be brought close enough to Jesus because of a large crowd, a few of his friends put their minds together and devised a plan. Luke tells us they climbed atop the roof of the house in which Jesus stood and cut a hole in it. This band of determined friends then lowered their buddy down in the presence of Jesus. And whose faith did the Lord praise? Not the man with the infirmity. The resourceful characters who may have ruined someone else’s roof received the acclaim. They evidently understood what was more important than anything else at that moment in time… Jesus Christ.
So, what does this mean for the ministry leader? Based on my observations of what resourceful leaders do, here are 4 suggestions for being resourceful.
1. Choose Your Attitude.
The number one positive trait of resourceful leaders is their attitude! Resourcefulness is a matter of attitude rather than access to funds. A true leader wants to redefine the possible: extract greater results from the same hours or minutes, cut through the clutter of to-dos and focus on how to get real results. Your attitude is contagious, and your resourcefulness can be a trait your people actually absorb. Because, for a resourceful leader, there is no such thing as limited resources; there are only opportunities for innovation and self-realization…like cutting a hole in someone’s roof for the sake of a friend.
2. Be Comfortable With Not Knowing.
For many leaders, the idol of certainty reigns supreme in ministry planning and ministry efforts. When resources dwindle or the unknown prevails, we can be paralyzed from lack of certainty. The most resourceful leaders are comfortable without knowing all the answers. They don’t have to wait until next week’s budget numbers come in or a return to normal before they can effectively lead their ministry. Resourceful leaders understand that they can run on the rails and build the train at the same time.
3. Use Your Team.
Resourceful leaders know their greatest resource is their team. Conventional thinking in frugal times says stop spending, but sometimes leaders confuse that mantra with “stop doing.” A resourceful leader doesn’t stand still. These kind of leaders encourage their staff to follow their example. Have discussions about what your team can do to turn doing more with less into a pragmatic process for overall ministry improvement. Pray together. Brainstorm together. Find solutions together!
4. Celebrate the Lessons.
In the book Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath highlight the need to not only create and celebrate moments but also recognize those that meet and exceed your goals. To encourage the spread of resourcefulness, leaders must make certain that this trait is publicized and praised. As we’ve all heard, “What gets celebrated gets repeated.” Those who are resourceful need to be recognized and rewarded, and in turn, teach their lessons to others.
Resourcefulness, while critical now, should not be reserved just for hard times. When the resources return and the uncertainty is more bearable, relying on one’s ability to do more with existing resources and lead people to do the same will make your ministry stronger.
Ministry Leadership 101 is a series of articles and videos by Brad Flurry based upon his experiences leading Marines for almost two decades. He captures lessons and principles from his career in the military and shares how they can be applied to lead ministry teams. You can reach him at email@example.com.