January 22, 2019

Pastoral Nuggets: Not My Penguin, A Leadership Principle

Brother-Aaron-236x300The other day I was in a meeting with the Troup Baptist Association Church Planting Pastors and Jimmy Baugchum.

Jimmy is the Georgia Baptist Convention Church Planting Specialist for our area. He was facilitating the meeting.

As we were discussing the pressures of church leadership and ministry, Jimmy told us about a leadership principle he had entitled: Not My Penguin.

He instructed us to individually visualize ourselves standing on an ice floe in the Arctic Circle. The only thing onboard with us is a few penguins. He said that the ice floe represents our ministry calling, direction, projects, focus, etc… and the penguins represent our partners in the ministry.

He said that as leaders our responsibility is to be laser focused on our ice floe (ministry) and the penguins on onboard with us. He told us that from time to time well-meaning penguins from other ice floes will jump off, swim up to ours, and try to get on board to hijack our ice floe and our penguins!

When this happens we are to simply kick them back into the water and declare: “Not My Penguin!” Folks, I think there is a powerful leadership lesson in this for us!

To use another metaphor, all too often we are like a sponge. If water from any source gets close enough to us, we think we have to absorb it and make it our own.

Often, we are guilty of doing this in our ministry. Somebody suggests we should be doing a certain ministry and regardless of what God has called us to do or what we are passionate about, we absorb it and make it ours.

The only problem with this is – we will reach a point of saturation and become useless! We have to “on purpose” choose the ministry direction and projects God has for us and put our focus and resources there. This is not saying other things aren’t worthwhile. They are.

I’m simply saying we all have a saturation point, that once reached, renders us useless. Oh, yes!  Do the things you are called to do, are passionate about, and need to do!  But good leaders learn to say: Not My Penguin!

Some of the best advice I ever received in pastoral ministry came from my brother, Billy. He is also a pastor. When I was about to start my first pastorate he pulled me aside and said, “Learn to focus your ministry efforts on the things God has called you to do and you are passionate about. Delegate the rest.

Along the way you will be presented with many worthwhile ministry opportunities. But if it’s not what God is calling you to do, even if it means leaving them undone – you don’t do them!” What did he teach me? He taught me to say: Not My Penguin!

I wonder, how long it has been since you told somebody: Not My Penguin? To be honest with you – it’s kinda liberating! I encourage you to focus your ministry efforts on your calling from God and your penguins. You’ll be glad you did! Go ahead and practice saying it: Not My Penguin. Not My Penguin. Not My Penguin …


Brother Aaron


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: