I was recently on a weekend trip with six Christian men and we shot guns. The force that comes from a Glock .45mm, a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum, and an M16 semi-automatic weapon is powerful and fierce. And learning to shoot a weapon taught me some things about leadership.
Surprising? Maybe, but this group of Christian men has met twice a month for Bible study, support and encouragement for the past 10 years. We know each other very well, and have developed a keen ability to challenge one another toward leading better lives, loving our families and developing our careers. One guy in our group is a Police officer and of course he is very proficient at using handguns. During this weekend retreat, he asked us if we would like to learn how to shoot his guns.
While I am not one to say no to learning something new, I accepted his offer and off we went to the local firing range. What I expected was to have been fun with my friends turned into a lesson in leadership, for some of the principles of shooting a weapon can also apply to leading an organization.
Here are a few of the key points on weapons training and then application for ministry leaders:
- Position yourself toward the target. Do you know your target audience? If you don’t know who you are trying to reach you won’t hit the target. Speaking to everyone is really like speaking to no one.
- Use your dominant eye to aim the gun sites at the target. Do you know your gifts and talents well? Figure out your natural abilities and spiritual gifts and utilize your strengths. Have others cover areas of weakness. Using your weaknesses (non-dominant eye) won’t get you close enough to your goals.
- Time the firing of the gun with your natural breathing rhythm, fire near the end of your exhale. There is a time to launch a new venture, a time to stop a program, a time to build and time to rest. Find the natural rhythms in your ministry and time activities to coincide with these rhythms.
- Don’t fear the firing of your gun. A .45 caliber gunshot is powerful and loud. When aiming at the target you may begin to anticipate the shot and the loud explosion that follows. This can ruin your aim and cause you to miss the target. In ministry we sometimes have to make tough calls that are going to create an aftermath, possibly loud and even unpopular. Don’t fear these decisions or put them off. Get advice, then more advice and then make the best possible decision with the information you have. Usually it isn’t as bad as you have imagined.
- Hitting your target is a blast, celebrate your successes. My first shot with the M16 hit the target and it felt great. We high fived each other and laughed about how nerve wracking that first shot was. When we hit a target in ministry; i.e. someone is saved by God’s grace through a sermon we gave or someone made a decision to give a sacrificial gift to the poor, celebrate and thank God. These victories and other small ones as well are worth celebrating.
So while shooting guns won’t become a permanent hobby, expanding my experiences and trying something new was fun and proved to have value beyond the experience itself.
What ministry lessons have you learned while on an adventure or developing a hobby? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.