What is your preferred method for extracting Ketchup from the glass bottle? You know what I’m talking about? Do you hit the bottom of it? Shake it? Slap the side? Stick a knife into it and coax the Ketchup out? Honestly, one of the most infuriating parts of eating out for me (except for plastic silverware…don’t get me started….who designs plastic forks and knives that break when you use them like forks and knives???).

Picture that Ketchup bottle. All that ketchuppy goodness is trapped. And all that work is being exerted to get just a little goodness out. Why? The bottleneck is too narrow! It is trapping all the goodness.

Here’s my admission: I’m the bottleneck.

This month we are writing articles about a problem we are facing in our youth ministry and how we are dealing with it. This is my problem. I’m the bottleneck. Most youth workers are unpaid in the Vineyard. And those that are, are rarely (if ever) paid to focus solely on youth ministry. Therefore it is pretty safe to assume that whether you are paid or volunteer, you have too much on your plate.

And this is true of me right now. As a result I’ve seen two things I would consider important and valuable are not getting the attention I wish I was giving them: Worship and Teen Leaders. In fact, if you asked me what are two my highest values I would say those two! But I haven’t had a real practice with the worship team in forever, and I’ve only had 2 meetings this school year with my leadership team.

I am the bottleneck.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get anymore out.

Something needs to change.

I don’t like to admit this. I want to think I can do it all. If I just work harder. If I just plan better. But part of my maturity as a leader is facing the reality of my inability and my limitation. And also embracing the fact that other people can do things as well or better – albeit differently – than I can! What if I appointed one of my other adult leaders to manage the leadership team? Well, what if they do it differently than me? What if they don’t have the wisdom I have or the vision or the passion? In response I’d say – it probably WILL be different! And that’s good! They’d actually meet for one thing!! And there’d be energy because I’ve raised that leader up and given them new authority. To them it would be an opportunity – rather than a constant reminder of my limitations – which it is for me now!

In worship I have a young adult who has taken the song picking, key picking, and organizing of worship into her hands. I wasn’t a good enough leader to have foresight and ask her to do this. To be honest. But she was a good enough leader to see the hole and offer to fill it.

So here’s the question of the day – where are you the bottleneck? What priorities – YOUR priorities – are NOT getting done….because of YOU? How are you standing in the way? And then instead of feeling bad about this – why not pray about someone you could trust to do it FOR you? Not just like you – but with their gifting. Then you’ll be leading leaders, which I think is the biblical model.

Enter Moses and Jethro (Exodus 18):

Jethro asks: “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge…”

Good question right? Moses – you are the bottleneck. Why are you doing this alone?


Jethro continues: “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. …  select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens … That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

Amazing right? Why are you the bottleneck? Why are you alone? This is too heavy for you. It will wear you out. Lead leaders- share the load – give away meaningful assignments – and you will do better, last longer, “stand the strain of ministry,” and “people will be satisfied.”

Amen. Let us heed Jethro’s advice and stop being the bottleneck.

Christian Dunn
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