I was recently meeting with a ministry director who had been through a bit of a tough year. From an outsider’s perspective, his ministry was going well. Kids were involved and growing in their faith. Volunteers were showing up, engaged and leading with excitement.  Yet something was a bit off. This director was leading several staff and things just weren’t right. There were hallway conversations and side discussions. There was relational tension and underlying issues. The team seemed to all be on the same page, but they weren’t all rowing in the same direction. They weren’t healthy, and everyone could feel it.

Over the last several years I have become more convinced than ever that health is one of the key things that we must strive for in ministry. Too often we can build things that look good on the surface but are really dying inside. We allow relational and organizational unhealthiness to derail the things we are trying to do. No doubt, God can work in our churches and our ministries despite us and our sin, but we have a role to play when it comes to our health. Instead of dealing with unhealthy people and systems, we frequently look away or ignore the very things that may be holding us back. My friend had skillfully dealt with a staffer who had been causing some of the issues. Once that person moved out of the organization everything changed. There was a levity around the team that had been missing for years. There were honest and open conversations that started to happen and everyone felt the relief. My friend acknowledged that he had been carrying a weight for so long and he didn’t even know it. Once things truly became healthy, everything changed.

Here are a few areas where we should strive for health:

Strive for Relational Health – Work hard to maintain real, authentic relationships with those you serve with. This doesn’t mean that you’ll always agree, but you should always be able to talk honestly and openly about what’s going on in the ministry.

Strive for Organizational Health – Let’s be honest, sometimes we have the wrong people in the wrong places “on the bus” or in the ministry. When a machine is trying to work with the wrong pieces in place, things are going to break. With both people and process, work hard to have a healthy organization.

Strive for Programmatic Health – Sometimes we allow our programs to remain unhealthy simply because it’s “the way we’ve always done it” or it’s easy for us. We need to be constantly evaluating our programs to ensure that we are giving our ministry the best chance to reach those kids, students and parents who desperately need help.

Health is hard. Health takes work. But I promise you, if you strive to lead and work in a healthy environment and organization, you can accomplish so much more than you ever thought you could.