Mapping, Making, and Meshing in Ministry

In his book Die Empty, Todd Henry provides a helpful framework to plan, execute, and develop yourself as you work. He divides work into three broad categories:

1) Making: This is what many consider the actual work. It is the doing of the work.

2) Mapping: This is the planning of the work, the necessary strategic thinking that happens before “the making,” the intentional thoughtfulness that enables the “making” to be as effective as possible.

3) Meshing: Often overlooked, meshing is the ongoing learning that happens when you learn by exploring and thinking critically about your work.

Henry builds the case that if we don’t include mapping, making, and meshing in our work, then we won’t be able to offer our best. Without all three, we will end up being a drifter, a dreamer, or a driver. I thought about ministry leaders, myself included, as I read this chapter in his book and will make some quick applications to us.

The Driver [Mapping + Making – Meshing]

The Driver effectively plans and executes work and then quickly moves on to conquer the next project or climb the next hill. Drivers do not think critically about their work, fail to integrate outside perspective or learning, and greatly limit their development by only focusing on results.

In ministry, Drivers are the ones who fall into the grind of ministry and rarely pull up to think about the theological and philosophical foundations that undergird the ministry. Because they are constantly consumed with the results, they often fail to see the implications that their theology or ministry philosophy actually has on their ministry practice. 

The Dreamer [Mapping + Meshing – Making]

We have all worked with Dreamers. They talk a big game, have really big and brilliant sounding ideas, and can whiteboard for hours. But they struggle with actually getting anything done.

In ministry, Dreamers are the ones who love to run from book to book or idea to idea without actually putting anything into practice.

The Drifter [Making + Meshing – Mapping]

Drifters understand the importance of learning and self-development. They are also committed to doing work, but they fail to effectively plan their work. Unlike the Dreamers, Drifters actually start projects or move in new directions, but they fail to complete them or to see the new direction through to fruition because they fail to think strategically about their work.

In ministry, Drifters jump from ministry direction to ministry direction. Because they fail to plan strategically the direction of the ministry, the ministry they serve can quickly become the schizophrenic combination of a plethora of directions.

Of course, the people we serve don’t benefit from us being drivers, dreamers, or drifters. Our ministries benefit from us being developers, leaders who develop people, who develop other leaders, and who wisely build ministries. Developers are leaders who effectively combine mapping, making, and meshing. They think strategically about their work, execute it well, and learn as they go.

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