Campus Renewal Ministries has a very unique role on the campuses where we serve. As a ministry that serves to partner other ministries in prayer and mission, much of our time is spent trying to get ministry leaders together in prayer and planning. Some of the college pastors at the University of Texas jokingly describe my job as “herding cats.”
Sometimes this cat herding can be quite irritating. Since we do not have many students or staff of our “own,” we’re often reliant upon the labor of students/staff of others groups whose full-time work (naturally) is with their own ministries. When I get frustrated by this reality, I cope by remembering the following things. I hope these points are a comfort to other cat herders out there.
First, just learn to accept it. This is a very unique calling, and this difficult reality is just part of the job. We all have parts of our jobs that we don’t like. This is the inherent difficulty for those that God has called to unite churches and ministries.
We do not have authority over other leaders. We cannot force ministries to work together. Our authority is purely relational. So the most important thing we can do is continue to build trusting relationships with other leaders.
Assume The Best In Others
Always assume the best motives and intentions in others. If pastors or students say “yes” to things and later back out of commitments (which happens often), assume it was for good reasons. Every leader is doing his or her best to disciple students and see God’s work advanced on campus.
Passing judgement or harboring bad feelings can only damage the cause. Assuming the best in others allows us to humbly and kindly continue to invite ministries into further partnership.
Always remember that every ministry and every leader is different. The myriad of differences between each ministry and each individual are the root of the difficulty in bringing various groups together.
There are different ministry philosophies that lead ministries to partner or not partner based on their convictions. Naturally, ministries will only partner in the ways fitting to their primary ministry philosophies.
There are different demands on pastors. Some have great freedom in directing their ministries, while others have to meet expectations of their churches and organizations. Naturally, these demands pull them away from partnership opportunities.
There are different temperaments of leaders. I could write a whole blog about this, but basically I find there are three temperaments of leaders. Some connect best in prayer, others in planning, and others in relationship. Naturally, leaders will partner in the ways that best matches their temperament.
Always remember Jesus, the real One you’re serving. We measure our success by faithfulness to Him. We can only be faithful to do what God says and leave the rest up to Him.
Remember that Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). When cat herding seems like a tiresome and thankless job, reflect on our Lord who tirelessly served too.
Remember that Jesus is the one doing the work. Ultimately, it is His work on campus. So you can rest, knowing that He is in control even if the cats seems to be running wild.
Justin Christopher is Campus Renewal Ministries’s National Campus Director and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.