Counting the relational change in your pocket

We often lose the ability to lead up by showing we don’t know how to lead down. If we can’t get our team, our students, parents to understand our vision and mission, we won’t be able to get those who lead us to hear it.

When I first started in full time Ministry, I moved to a new church to start a new ministry with them, that though they had always had discipleship programs for their students, they had never had a full on Student Ministry. My first three weeks there I changed the name of the group, repainted the Youth Room, cleaned out and threw away almost everything that had been in the Youth Room, and laid out a radically different calendar of Youth Events. That third week, I got called into my Sr. Pastor’s office, surely to be praised for how great of a job I was doing and how hard I had been working, but instead, it was the sort of meeting you leave with your tail between your legs. A few of the core families with students were going to be leaving the church, and it was mainly because of the way I had come in guns-a-blazing and gotten rid of everything their students liked about church. You could argue that those families should have given it more than three weeks, that if they left that quickly they were probably on their way out already. And I’ve seen that side of things, and would tell you that looks and feels a lot different than what happened then. When I talked to my Dad about it, he reminded me of the concept of Relational Change in ministry that he had talked to me about numerous times before. When you start out at a new Ministry, you are given a certain amount of relational change to Lead with. It’s the amount of trust your church and it’s leadership have given you to do your job, and you only get that initial investment for your first few months.

Investing 100 Coins in the long term.

So let’s go back to my story, because it perfectly illustrates the problem with the coins. As my dad would always tell me, imagine you start out at a ministry with 100 coins, that’s your initial investment.

You can always earn more coins, but earning them is harder than spending them.

Because when you make changes, good or bad, you use coins: Painting the Youth Room – 15 coins, changing the Youth Group’s name – 25 coins. Showing up late to Staff Meeting, – 1 coin. The lower your coins get, the more costly the little things are. If you, like me, spend 80 coins in your first 3 weeks, showing up late to a meeting is going to cost you a lot more than 1 coin. I remember hearing this theory multiple times from my Dad, but never being able to remember it when it was actually needed.

In almost every instance of starting out at a new Ministry that I have had, looking back, I wish I had spent my coins differently in my first few months. Particularly because the more Relational Change you have in your pocket, the easier it is for you to be heard by your Sr. Pastor.

When you first start out at that new ministry, you’ve got that trust, you have that ear of your new Leadership. Do you want to use it to ask him if you can paint the Youth Room for the 15th time in as many years? Because that’s not the best idea you’ll ever have, but if it’s your first, it’s not doing you any favors in the long run.


  1. Anytime I want to charge in guns blazing at something or someone, my pastor always asks me, "Is it worth dying on a cross for?" That always puts things in perspective. Great article and such a true analogy for all of us to apply in our ministry.
  2. Great post, Josh. We always have to weigh our ideas against the "relational change" in our pockets. Great stuff.

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