Covered up: the struggle of every church planter and believer

By Lee Kemp 

Pulling from a saying in the military, as a church planter I sometimes feel that I am greatly behind enemy lines. Church planters are trying to advance the Kingdom of God with the Gospel, and we are doing everything we can to take back territory that we believe is God’s.

Inevitably, we start to feel covered up, and it doesn’t take long to feel that way…Because of over-commitments to people. Because I didn’t delegate tasks away from me. Because I’m developing leaders that are not quite ready to take the mantle. Because I haven’t decided to say no.

You know, Hugh Halter said that when people feel covered up, they can list their priorities and delegate/stop at least 25 percent of what they’re doing. If they feel like they’re not running to the fullness of what God told them, they should delegate or stop some things. And here’s the thing—no one would even notice or care that they did it!

{If you feel covered up, list your priorities and then delegate or stop 25 percent of what you are doing. And no one will even notice.}

So what I have to ask myself is this: If I am covered up and not as productive as I could be, what is the possible 25 percent that I can either delegate, train someone to take over, or just say no to?

I don’t know about everybody else, but what I tend to do in my brain are these trivial tasks that no one cares about or sees as valuable. But I get stuck doing them anyways because I think they need to be done. Really, this where I fail because they don’t need to be done!

My “ministry OCD” kicks-in. Some of these things I’ve allowed to take the priority of ministry. Forefront is a church plant, and I have to remind myself that we are not going to look like an established church who has been working at a certain level of excellence for decades. Instead, I should have a mentality to do the best with who I am with what I have.

I used to get stuck on the word excellence. Then I heard this definition, and it set me free:

“Excellence is the place where passion and precision meet.”

What I learned is that if our church is passionate, and we’re doing the best we can with what we have, that’s excellence. Excellence is not perfection, so I can honor God by being passionate and as precise as I can be. Do my best and forget the rest.

Church planters can have a “small-man” complex. We try to work really hard, and we get covered up, but we think everybody else is just as covered up. So we miss out on our families and our kids…and we feel like we’re pleasing the Lord. But really we’re doing it because we are stuck in a “small-man” complex. I ultimately lose my integrity, and it starts to ripple or echo somewhere else.

For Arkansas Baptist church planters, everyone we look up to is part of the mega-church world, or they have major support, or they came from a metropolitan area. Arkansas doesn’t have a city with millions of people. My church plant won’t be like Francis Chan’s. It just won’t.

We read the next best book or hear a conference sermon, and afterward we think we should get covered up in ministry. And that’s not really the best response! Maybe the better response is to come back and stop a few things.

To me that should be a conversation starter, specifically for church planters but also all believers! What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

My encouragement for you would be to ask these questions:

  • Are you covered up? And with what?
  • How much of that needs to be delegated?
  • What can you say “no” to, or “not yet?”


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