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In the 135 years since its introduction, kudzu’s tentacles have spread over almost seven and one half million acres of the southern United States and continues to ‘consume’ the south at an estimated rate of 120,000 acres per year, destroying power lines, buildings, and native vegetation in its path.[1]

The kudzu plant was introduced to the United States from Japan in 1876 as an ornamental plant to be used to shade porches,[2] and to prevent soil erosion.[3] However, in the south, just the mention of this obnoxious plant’s name creates the negative mental image of a volcano-like vine devouring everything in its path.

Kudzu is a great example of how something can begin with good intentions but end up with negative results. The same thing happens to us in ministry if we are not careful. We start out on target—our priorities clear; our goals sharply in focus. We know exactly where we are going and how we are planning to get there.

Then comes the invitation to speak, take another meeting, write an article, or . . .  It was not totally in line with our values, but it is in the “ballpark,” we think. After all, it is something we want to do—something we like to do. So we say yes. That is how it begins.

One thing leads to another, and now our lives are smothered by “ministry creep” like the southland is covered with kudzu. Non-essentials creep in like weeds in a garden taking over our plans and strategies.

Here are four suggestions for Overcoming Ministry Creep in Your Life:

  1. Review your values weekly. If you have not established your values yet, take time to do so now. (Check out my two posts on this topic: How to Create a Personal Growth Plan and Intentional Transitions . . . Living Life on Purpose.)
  2. Create a strategic value template, which allows you to assess quickly whether a new request, opportunity, or ministry meets your criteria. This template will simply consist of information from your values.
  3. Use a productivity tool to help organize your life and ministry. This will help keep you intentional.
  4. Make yourself accountable to someone! Allow a friend the latitude to evaluate your life and ministry, checking to make sure you are on target with your values.

We all must guard against “ministry creep.” Good things in our lives can morph into the enemies of best things.  Like kudzu, they will eventually take over our ministries, devouring our effectiveness.

[1] Webster, C.R.; Jenkins, M. A. & Jose, S. “Woody Invaders and the Challenges They Pose to Forest Ecosystems in the Eastern United States” Journal of Forestry, Vol. 104, 366-274. 2006.

[2] Forseth. Jr., I.N. and Innis, Anne F.“Kudzu (‘‘Pueraria montana’’): History, Physiology, and Ecology Combine to Make a Major Ecosystem Threat” Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, Vol. 23, 401-413, 2004.

[3] Cogdell, Christina (2011). “Tearing Down the Grid”. Design and Culture. 3 (1).

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