Who’s Your Monkey?

What do people in technical ministry and monkeys have in common? And the first thing that popped into your head is probably not it. Last year at the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit, Dr. Henry Cloud shared an illustration that has a great deal of application for those of us serving as technical leaders in the church.

Dr. Cloud shared about a stress test study done with monkeys. In the first situation, a single monkey was placed in a cage and then subjected to startling loud noises and flashing lights. (Sounds like some church services.) The researchers measured the monkey’s stress levels during its exposure. They then conducted the same experiment again, except they changed one thing. They put a second monkey in the cage with the first. During the experiment, the monkey’s stress level was 50% lower than when he was in the situation alone. Just having a companion made the situation less stressful, even though the external stimuli remained the same.

As technical leaders in ministry, we face stressful situations all the time. It’s pretty much part of the job description. From equipment challenges to volunteer challenges, to staff challenges and budget challenges, to leadership challenges, the list could go on and on. The reality of our role is that the stress is never going to go away. No matter how much we refine processes, develop volunteers, and build into relationships, there will be stress. And that’s ok. How we manage our stress defines our success.

So, when you are confronted with a string of stressful situations, who is it that you can go to and share your about battles? Who is it that you can go to and share about your triumphs? Who is your monkey buddy?

It truly is amazing what a difference sharing your frustrations with someone else can make. Even if none of the external circumstances change, even if all of the issues that were keeping you up at night remain unsolved, sharing those burdens with another will encourage and strengthen you. Your friend may even have some good advice! In John chapter 17, Jesus prays that His followers would be one as He was one with His Father. This is one of the primary ways the world knows that we are followers of Christ. When we surround one another, encourage one another, and are of one mind building each other up, we demonstrate the love of God not only to each other, but also to those around us. Remember Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

So right now, think of who you can go to and share about your stress. Who can you go to who will understand your challenges? This person doesn’t necessarily have to be a technical leader or even a church staff person (although I’ve discovered that worship leaders generally can relate pretty well). Schedule a lunch together and see what fruit comes from your time together. You’ll likely gain a fresh perspective on your situation and you may even be able to help them through a tough time.

We weren’t made to face this stuff on our own. If you’re reading this, you’re probably serving in ministry. And if you’re serving in ministry, you’re eventually going to find yourself in the crosshairs of the evil one. One of the ways he wants to destroy your effectiveness is to make you feel like you are all alone. Don’t fall for it!

And if things are going well right now, don’t wait until things go bad to develop relationships with people who can support you. We need to share our wins and well as our losses. It’s that kind of supportive community will allow you not to just survive, but thrive in ministry.

Kaleb Wilcox and his wife Sara live in Chicagoland where Kaleb serves as Technical Arts Director at the North Shore campus of Willow Creek Community Church. Before moving to Wheeling in 2013, Kaleb was the Technical Arts Director at Topeka Bible Church in Topeka, KS, served as a worship leader on staff at Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville, OH, and worked in the Production Services department of Cedarville University. He holds a B.A. in Electronic Media and, besides production, he is passionate about music, film, photography, and mountain biking. Follow Kaleb on [email protected]

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