In the offices of the ministers at a church that I served, we all had a silver frame with the letters “PML.” The “P” was tiny, the “M” was bigger and the “L” dominated the threesome by its size.
The letters stand for “Production,” “Management,” and “Leadership.” We found PML in Stephen Covey’s book First Things First (p 249). The frame with the three letters was a reminder about our ministry.
P. All people need to be involved in “production.” We reasoned that teaching Sunday school, preparing a dish for a shut in, setting up chairs in the fellowship hall, and writing sermons were all good ways to be productive in God’s work.
M. We had another saying among our staff that we should “administer so others could minister.” By doing the planning work on a mission trip, or
organizing a work day or getting folks to set up the fellowship hall chairs others came and plugged into substantive labor for God. As staff we did that work so that many could serve. Ministers also manage.
L. Teaching and dreaming play a significant role in church life. God calls us to be more than we are, to do more than we thought we could do, and to be available as his tools in our world. Another one of our sayings was “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” That’s the role of leaders. They keep God’s will and God’s dreams alive. Ministers lead.
Yet while ministers play all three of these roles, they are not all equal. All must be producers. Many have the quality to manage. Others are gifted as leaders.
Yet our tendency is to spend all our time on producing, less time on management and little time on leadership. By the size of the letters we reminded ourselves that the reverse needed attention. If there are no managers appropriately organizing a ministry, then the production work becomes more difficult. As it becomes more difficult, fewer people want to do it, and those who remain are overwhelmed with production. Better management means more production.
Yet managers can lose focus, get weary, or miss the big picture. When they do production suffers. Leaders help them stay on track. Leaders motivate all to be involved. If the mangers lose sight of the vision, then organization turns to chaos. When that happens people drop out of doing productive work. In the end, the one who might have cast the vision ends up doing most of the management and the bulk of the production.
The three letters reminded us to feel good up setting up chairs or preparing a lesson. Production pleases God. We also had to allow time to be managers so that others could come alongside
us as producers. God calls us to involve folks in ministry. But the real point kept us focused on being leaders so that the managers managed and the producers produced.
Make yourself a frame with the three letters. Or better yet make a call to organize the project so others can help out. Best of all pass on the word to keep the vision alive.