I spent some time recently with a guy who served with me in a situation that is, to this day, the biggest disappointment of my adult life. I’d spent hundreds of hours bashing myself over the head about the way this situation worked out…my friend made something ridiculously obvious to me that I’d previously considered. This was something I’d failed to do and something I constantly made excuses for not pursuing. This was advice I’d overlooked despite Katie Wetherbee (my teammate at Key Ministry) including a slide specifically addressing this point in her presentations to churches. Tom Cruise’s character addresses it by referencing the words of his mentor, Dicky Fox, in the movie Jerry Maguire:
“The key to this business is personal relationships.”
I failed because I tried to take shortcuts. I expected to walk into a situation and immediately exercise influence because of my background, experience and track record without investing the time and energy into the relationships that form the foundation of influence.
I may come back to this topic because it illustrates a challenge our crew at Key Ministry needs to help leaders overcome if they’re going to be successful in becoming champions of intentional efforts to welcome and include families with disabilities into the life of the church. We may have the best tools and resources and training and support for folks wanting to spearhead ministry in their churches, but if we don’t ourselves develop personal relationships with leaders in those churches and help encourage and support the leaders we’re equipping to develop personal relationships within the leadership structure of their churches, we’re doomed to failure.
I hope I’ve learned my lesson.