As a ministry leader, you might not think about words like “competition” all that often. Because you tend to be FOR people doing good work, no matter who they are.

But with so many options out there for people to support and so many things pulling for people’s time, it might be worth pausing to ask the question: How can I get better?

Let’s face it…there are other ministries out there doing what you’re doing. You might have a different spin on it, but it’s essentially the same thing.

Dozens of others are doing great work like you, building boards and raising donations just like you, and looking to lead just like you.

What can set you apart? What can help you go to the next level. Here are three thoughts:

#1 – Your competitive advantage might be who you know.

Ed Catmull, the Chief Creative Officer  of Pixar, leads one of the most successful companies of our time. In Creativity, Inc, he writes, “getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.” Pixar has incredible ideas, and those ideas turn into incredible movies.

But what really makes Pixar great is their people.

It’s not the idea. It’s the people executing them.

It’s not the systems. It’s the people running them.

Getting the right people around you is more important than coming up with the next great idea.

If you’re stuck, get around some different people. Set an appointment and come prepared with questions.  Join a coaching group and invest in relationships. Do nice things for people and say thanks, and let those relationships naturally develop.

A lot of people have great ideas. And there are plenty of ministries that have better funding. But who you know might make a huge difference.

#2 – Your competitive advantage might be a commitment to learn.

If athletes who succeed in sports are willing to outwork the competition, leaders who succeed in business are willing to outlearn the competition.

Here are some learning opportunities available to you right now.  You don’t have to wait for “one day” – you can take advantage of these things this week.

Here’s a simple way you can be a learner this week.

Read a book.

For about the cost of a meal, you can purchase a project that took someone the better part of two years to research, write, edit, re-write, publish, and market. Great books are well-researched, with the author studying dozens and dozens of experts and perspectives. So when you read a book, you get those experiences and examples, too.

Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world, says a book was the best investment he ever made. In his 2013 letter to shareholders, Buffett said The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham was “of all the investments I ever made…[it] was the best.”

#3 – Your competitive advantage might be patience and grit.

It’s not the idea, but your commitment to executing it, that will push you down the road to success. Because when the passion of the idea fades away, you’re just going to be left with commitment.

This is when most people quit, but if you’re willing to stick to it and do the hard work, you can be one of the last organizations standing.

Grit is courage despite difficulties, backbone and determination in the face of trouble.

It is waking up one hour earlier than normal to work on your book, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s re-writing the email subject line for the 7th time, even when the 3rd option was good enough. It’s re-shooting the course because the audio wasn’t right or flying across the country to meet with an advisor.

Grit means you keep going when the passion has worn thin. It’s a bedrock commitment that will keep you going when you find out someone else launched basically the same website or you hear of someone who is doing pretty much the same thing.

Pursuing your dream sounds fun, but you’ve got to be willing to pursue that dream when it leads you uphill. Or through a desert. Or into chaos.

I hope this encourages you to keep going. And if we can help you in any way, please let us know.

Jon-Bennett-02-80x80

Jon Bennett
President & CEO
Ministry Ventures