Leadership By Compassion
by Kris Swiatocho
Many years ago when my niece Keely was five years old we were playing Barbies. I had grown tired of playing Barbies as the plot was always the same. She wanted the Barbies to share what their names were and that they were going to the ball and what they would be wearing. So one day I decided to mix things up a bit. I decided I would not go along with her role playing and instead responded in ways I knew she wouldn't like.
As she presented her Barbie to me she said, "Hello, my name is Anna. What is your name"? I said, "I don't feel like telling you my name." Keely then looked at me with a surprised expression. She then proceeded to say, "What are you going to wear to the ball?” I said, “I'm not going to no stinking ball." She gasped and hesitantly said, "I'm going to wear this dress,” as she twirled her Barbie around.
“You're going to wear that ugly dress?" I asked. Then Keely said something that was totally unexpected and shocked me. She said, "You're just acting like a lost person. You need Jesus." I was like, “What?” (realizing what she had said but asking for clarification to make sure she knew what she was saying). She repeated, "You're just acting like a lost person. You need Jesus." Then she took her Barbie’s little hands and laid them on my Barbie’s shoulders and prayed, "Jesus, help her." I was like, “What?” She then seemed frustrated and ran and got the only boy doll she had, Woody from Toy Story (a.k.a. a substitute pastor), and he laid hands on me. The next thing I knew she was running the bath and told me my Barbie was going to get baptized. I just rolled in laughter.
You see, what I learned that day was not only did Keely see, listen and repeat what she had seen her father and mother do, but she took it a step further. She had compassion. She cared about me (Barbie) and my behavior, and she was concerned that I was lost due to my behavior. Keely had learned from her parents (as her leaders) what real ministry is about. Leading people only by telling them what they need to be doing isn't enough.
You have to first live it yourself by walking with folks daily. You have to show you really care by spending time with people—so that as you spend time together, you build trust and this trust will allow you to not only be in people's lives but promote healthy changes for Christ. Jesus has showed over and over and over again his compassion for others. Below is a story of his compassion and what I have learned as a leader.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:9-13).
Jesus Teaches: 1. People have gifts that we might not see at first. God called Matthew to be his disciple. A man who probably had about as much compassion as my left pinky. A tax collector whose friends were other tax collectors and "sinners." Men who sat around at night talking about the ignorant and gullible people. Men who counted their money and thinking of the things they would buy with it. Men who were despised by others. But Jesus saw something different in Matthew. He saw a man who would be capable of loving others, of putting others first, of doing whatever it took to share the gospel, of doing what was right. Jesus taught me that through my own compassion for a "sinner" I need to wait on God to develop them. I need to wait on God for what he plans to do with them. As a leader, there are so many singles who I have a hard time loving. But then God reminds me that I was hard to love at one time and someone waited on God for me.
2. What his real purpose on this earth was, and what mine is. My purpose is relationship that glorifies God and out of this relationship, a relationship with others to bring them to Christ. It is not the saved, the ones right with God, who we are here for. It is the ones who are not saved, the ones who are saved but have fallen away. We are here to reach those singles who are sporadic. Those singles who are on drugs, beating their girlfriends, abusing their kids. We are here to help those single moms and dads, provide a meal, listen to them when their boyfriend has broken up with them, etc. We are here to pray for them, comfort and love them into the body of Christ. Just like Jesus . . . I have come for the sick. Sick emotionally, physically, mentally, sociably and ultimately spiritually.
3. That he requires mercy, not sacrifice: There are so many "Christians" trying to work themselves to heaven. Whether it’s by a well-meaning denomination or by our own misunderstandings of what grace means, we find ourselves trying to please God by what we do for him. We get into legalistic prayer routines, tithing to the exact 10 percent, serving beyond exhaustion (being the first and last at church) and overly making ourselves available to help wherever, whenever. Now please don’t get me wrong. We are to work for the Lord. We are to do things excellently. We are to be great stewards of what he has given us. But never in the Word does it say, “Do this in order to please me. Do this to get to heaven. Do this so that I will love you.” Instead, it is by our relationship, by our understanding of who Jesus is and by our understanding who we are in him. It comes naturally to serve, not out of guilt, but out of our faith and our love for the Lord and his love for us. Christ already was the ultimate sacrifice for us so we wouldn't have to be. He is not asking us to be on the cross. He is asking us to love others as he loves us because of the cross.
4. That Jesus wants us to learn as we live it. He said to go and learn what he was teaching. A large part of learning how to be a great leader for the Lord is on-the-job training. You can read all the John Maxwell books there are, and you will never truly understand what it is to be a leader until you actually do it. Jesus developed his leadership skills starting at a young age. He then got to practice for many years. From leading his friends to his siblings to eventually the disciples, he practiced learning how to be a great leader. As you lead your singles, allow mistakes to happen. Be open to share when you have made a mistake. Take the time to learn from those God has entrusted to you.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Cor. 1:2-4).
So I pulled Barbie out of the tub and dried her off. I watched Keely and realized something. Keely was totally about building relationships. She did this by finding common ground. You see, when I was little and played with my own Barbies, I loved to create the environment first. I wanted all the buildings built, the town developed, the furniture in place, etc. Then the people could talk. I wanted structure first before the relationship, so that I could guarantee there would be a relationship. Keely taught me if you just love people where they are, all the rest will come together—just like Jesus. Ever since the day "Barbie got saved," I made some changes. Relationships are what it’s about, even if all the structure isn't in place yet. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me the example of what you want us all to be.
Applications: What are some ways you can reach out to others? What are some ways to be compassionate? How do you deal with difficult people? How do you deal with people who constantly seem to have problems or hold a hand out? What are you doing to do next?
Successful Singles Ministry: Men Growing Men
As a leader and teacher of single adult ministry for the last 25 years, I get asked over and over again how to start a singles ministry. At least 8 out of 10 of those asking are women. Women who have a passion and heart to reach singles. Women who themselves see the need in the church. Women who often get tired of waiting for their pastors to start something. Women who are headed for failure because they lack the one crucial part
that is needed for success. Besides consistent prayer, church support and the ability to build leaders, successful
singles ministry, I have found, has the best success rate when co-led by male and female leaders. I mean, if you want to have a single adult women's ministry, then praise the Lord. But if you want it to be co-ed, then you must find a man to help.
"Men leaders can grow men and women, men and women leaders can grow men and women but only women leaders grow women." Now please, don't start sending me feedback saying the opposite. I know there are some very successful ministries led by women (I have led several ones myself), but I also found with these ministries that there was a huge support system—a system with male leaders and pastors ready to help as needed. A system that most single adults viewed as a partnership of leadership versus just one lady leading things. Great women leaders know the value of placing men and women of various backgrounds and giftings under them. They know we need men to reach other men.
The last church I was on staff at had a male pastor over me who would assist me in anything I needed from teaching to prayer to handling issues to attending events. People viewed him as a co-partnership of the singles ministry even though he didn't attend everything we did.
So why is this? Why can't women grow single adult ministries like a man? Well, please know it’s nothing we as women have done wrong. It's simply what God designed in us as male and female. In order for a male to grow to be the man God wants him to be, he needs to be led by another male. I am not saying women can't
teach a man or offer insight or some wisdom of truth. I am just saying that our role as women should be to encourage, support, pray and honor the role God has given men directly. The same is true for women, too.
Men can only disciple women to a point. There comes a time when it's not safe for a single male leader to be alone with a single lady. There are things in life that only another woman can understand. So when there are only women leading a ministry, they tend to draw only other women (and the occasional unhealthy male).
Please know, as our single adults get older, we already have more women coming than men. So this makes it that much more important to have a male co-leader to help reach those men that aren't coming.
So what is the co-leader's role? Most women seem to be doing all the roles with what appears to be success. Well, not really. If you were that successful, you would have more men coming. So when you do find this man, then what is his role so that you can get a more balanced ministry?
I personally like to get men up in front as much as possible. They can open in prayer, make announcements, and so on at first with the goal to get them to facilitate a small group or other study. This can eventually lead to them teaching a small group or Sunday school class or even leading the ministry.
I also ask men to call/e-mail/text other men to invite them to our events and studies. I often put men into small groups when discussing questions during our Sunday school class or events to give them time to bond. As women, we bond in the restroom.
I encourage men to hang out separately from the women. I try and get one man to be willing to be the point person for a ball game, dinner at a sports restaurant, camping or fishing trip. If he is the point person once, he may do it again. I value their contribution of ideas and input for the ministry. I encourage their help. I do less and ask them to do more. I talk less and allow them to talk more. I celebrate even the tiniest of things they do in hopes it will encourage them to do more.
You see ladies, men know we will do it all because we have done it all. So in order to allow them to lead, we have to often let some things go. When men visit our ministries and see other men that look and appear like them, they are more likely to return. But if these men only see a group of cackling women—or worse case,
attacking cackling women—they will turn and run. Please know it all takes time. But if you commit this to prayer and start encouraging the existing men to help in various areas that give them visibility, you will be on the right path. And you can't ever give up, ever.
What if you don't have any men who could step up? Well, sometimes our ministries only have unhealthy men or men who are simply not able to lead in any way (even after years of encouraging and training). These men either do not have the calling or are not mature yet themselves. So sometimes I will ask a married man to help out—either a pastor, deacon/elder or other church leader. Sometimes there is a really good teacher who is
married that could come in and co-teach the class with the agreement to help grow the men. This could be a temporary situation. I have also gone to my church leaders to ask for help and prayer. If there is an assigned pastor to this ministry, I will ask that pastor to come in and be a visible man in the ministry. I have also asked this pastor to attend some of our events, again to show visibility and support to the ministry. At one church where I was on staff, they actually assigned a deacon and his wife to each of our Sunday school classes (whole church) for one Sunday a month. I asked this couple if they would be willing to teach that one Sunday, as well as help with following up with men. I also asked them to attend some of our events to help them be more visible to other men. Boy, what a difference it made.
Bottom line, in order to get healthier men in your singles ministry, you have to reach them and grow them through other healthy men. We as women can help. We can pray for our men, value how God has placed them in our churches and ministries to lead and foremost, step down in certain areas to allow men to step up. Ladies, I know you are willing to do whatever God wants you to do, but you will never know how much greater ministry is when it’s co-led by a male. So put it to prayer and wait on God. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts (Acts 11:23).
Note: I know there are several male-led ministries that aren't growing. All ministries directed by women or men still need to be able to lead and grow other leaders so that the ministry will grow. Just because a ministry has a male leader or co-leader does not mean guaranteed success. Co-leadership is simply the best design to reach all singles for Christ.
Click here to request a FREE "How to Start a Single Adult Ministry" guide.
Pray for a Mate™
About Pray for a Mate™...In my 25 years of ministering to single adults, I have found one major thing common to 99.9% of them—the desire to be married or married again. From conferences to retreats, articles and interviews, the subject continuously comes up.
I hear questions like:
“Do you think I am meant to be married?”
“Is there such a thing as ‘the one’?”
“Why hasn’t God brought me the man/woman of my dreams?”
As with all of these questions, I can only send them to the one source who knows the answers and that is Jesus Christ. But saying this doesn’t always communicate to an action or a direction.
Okay, so you go to the Lord but then what? Well, they would say they have gone to the Lord but what I found was they would gripe, cry and fuss at Him. Few were serious in their purpose when it came to praying. Few were serious when it came to listening and as a result, changing.
THE CHURCH AND SINGLENESS
For the last two decades, I and many of my fellow ministers to singles have seen the decline of the church’s efforts to minister to single adults. While the singles population is now over 52 percent in the United States, with most being never-marrieds, churches are not making the effort to the reach us. The focus more than ever seems to be on the family.
But what churches don’t understand is the family starts with two single adults. If the church would spend time reaching singles, helping them in their identity in Christ, in their personal growth and developing healthy friendships, as well as by offering Bible studies and counseling for marriage, then the greater success of our future marriages and families will be.
We can’t keep hiding behind youth programs and a pro-family focus and hope healthy marriages will just happen. The church needs to help single adults meet each other in a healthy way, directing them toward godly friendships and teaching them the principles of courtship and marriage preparation. Otherwise, they will find other ways to find a spouse, often outside the church and, possibly, with someone who isn’t a believer.
Although not all single adults will get married, many due to their own fears and issues, I do believe in marriage and I believe God still brings people together. With that in mind, I have been praying for a solution to bring singles ministry back into the church.
Singles ministry in general takes a lot of work. You have to build a team of leaders, offer training, meet regularly, plan, pray, and do. Because of the work involved and due to so many pastors being fearful that members might “hook-up,” churches have stopped having a singles ministry.
Also, we are still seeing more women than men in church. As a result, most singles ministries are started by women. Unfortunately, groups led solely by women only grow other women. The team has to include men. Without this pairing of the sexes, your ministry will often fail. In addition, we are seeing a lot of singles ministries focused on social events rather than on teaching the Word of God.
Another problem comes when leaders who don’t find a team to share the responsibilities with gets burned out, resulting in a failed ministry.
So, what do we do? How do we bring a singles ministry back into the church and have it be successful? And how can we do it if we are limited in finding men to help? What about resources and support?
SOLUTION: Pray for a Mate™
While spending time in the United Kingdom doing ministry, I came upon a wonderful lady who shared with me something amazing. She had gone to her pastor and asked about doing a singles ministry at her church. Again, due to past experiences of what singles ministries could become, he said no. She then prayed and went back and asked if she could have a “prayer group for those who wanted to be married.” (Remember, 99.9 percent of all singles want to be married—maybe not this minute but eventually). She didn’t say anything about singles or ministry, but she did use two key words that most churches care about: marriage and prayer. They agreed and even offered her the space to meet.
She quickly gathered her team of friends—some married and some single—and they started meeting to pray, not sure what God would do. That small group turned into a larger one and before long they were meeting each month. From the start they only allowed women to come as they had enough men. They also created a structure that appealed mainly to serious prayer warriors.
The results were amazing. They saw lives changed, individuals found healing, some developed amazing friendships and others even got married. It’s now been over year and they are up to eighty men and eighty women. And it hit me—with a few slight changes, this could work in the U.S.
I realize not all singles would want to come to church to pray for a mate. Some might even get upset if this was the only activity their church offered singles. But if a church only has this, it’s still better than nothing. This program has the potential to lead to something. It’s certainly worth trying and making the investment. And the result? Healthier people who become healthier followers of Christ.
How to get started!
1. Go to our contact page and fill out the registration form.
3. Once we receive your registration, you will be given a password to access the other pages where you will learn how Pray for a Mate™ works including the structure and the prayer themes.