Brentwood Baptist Church, a multisite church in the Nashville area is using Ministry Grid to train hundreds of volunteers and prepare hundreds of students for missions. Watch their story of why Ministry Grid is the ideal tool for them and see how it might transform volunteer and leader training at your church.
Last week, I blogged about two common hindrances to empowering others: insecure leaders and unhealthy expectations. Great leaders empower others. They practice entrusting responsibility and authority to others, to people Max Depree described as “roving leaders,” who transcend title and make great things happen.
Instead of leading and executing everything, wise and biblically motivated leaders equip others to lead and execute. Here are three small ways to elevate current leaders on your team and let them run.
1) Hand a key initiative to another leader… and sit on the team.
It is one thing to hand a responsibility to someone else and quite another to hand a responsibility to another and still stay engaged and involved. Your engagement and involvement allows you to observe and encourage. You are able to debrief with the leader, share your observations, and offer instruction and encouragement. If you lead every meeting or every initiative you are involved in, you are not developing others.
2) Have others lead major sections of your staff meetings.
Instead of leading your entire staff meeting, assign major sections of the meeting to others to lead. Don’t let the meeting simply be you holding folks accountable in front of everyone else. Let others lead the timelines around significant assignments, facilitate the discussions, and rally others around a direction. Act as a team member in those moments, submitting to the point person in the room.
3) Invite a leader to solve a specific problem.
Jim Collins wisely suggests that leaders “put your best resources on your greatest opportunities and not your greatest problems.” At the same time, an unresolved issue or lingering problem presents a great opportunity for leadership development. Solving a problem requires critical thinking, collaboration with others, and the ability to execute. Consider identifying an important problem and inviting a leader to solve it, not merely to recommend solutions but to lead the team to a solution.
Leaders are responsible for the future leadership of the ministry or the organization. Instead of merely doling out assignments to others, stay engaged and provide feedback and encouragement.
As the leader you are not the most qualified person on your team for every decision, every initiative, or every aspect of the team’s collective work. There are others the Lord has placed on the team who are more uniquely gifted and prepared to lead specific functions.
For example, the senior pastor may not be the most gifted to spearhead pastoral counseling or lead a new initiative. Or the team leader may not be the most creative or the best designer of systems that undergird the organization.
The team is stronger and her impact is greater when the leader of the team recognizes the gifting surrounding him/her, hands leadership to others, and graciously places himself/herself under their direction for specific initiatives and functions.
Max Depree referred to this as “roving leaders” in his classic work, Leadership Is an Art. Depree articulated that there are strong leaders throughout an organization who don’t carry the organizational title of team leader but are the ones who really lead, who really make things happen.
Those with the organizational title of “team leader” are wise to hand responsibility to others – to trust “roving leaders.” Practically this means the team leader delegates and serves as a team member under the direction of the “roving leader” who is running point on a particular function or project.
If roving leadership sounds idealistic it is because many of us have been confronted with two significant barriers to roving leadership.
1) Insecure leaders
Insecure leaders need to be the ones making every decision and leading every initiative. Their organizations or ministries don’t need them to be the ones always running point; they need to be the ones always running point. Their egos will not allow another person to thrive, another person to lead, or another person to be perceived as “wiser” or more “effective” in a particular discipline. Their need for power or control debilitates the organization and stifles the development of the team.
Humble leaders delegate and gladly submit to others with proven character and competence. They care more about the health of the ministry/organization they lead than the credit they receive. Several have been credited with the maxim: “It is amazing what can be accomplished if we don’t care who gets the credit.”
2) Unwise & unhealthy expectations
In some situations it is not an insecure leader but unwise and unhealthy expectations that prohibits “roving leadership.” If the ministry or organization believes and practices that the person with the “leader” title must be the one “executing” all the work rather than “equipping” others, then everyone suffers. The organization or ministry suffers as her influence is limited to one person. The leader suffers as he/she feverishly attempts to lead everything. And people suffer as they are sidelined without the ability to use their gifts to contribute.
Sadly, in some churches insecure leaders need to be needed, so they refuse to empower and equip others for ministry. They refuse to practice the biblical vision of church ministry where pastors don’t always do the ministry, but they equip others for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). And sadly, in some churches a lack of understanding or commitment to the beautiful doctrine that all believers are priests, all believers are ministers, pushes ministry to the paid clergy instead of to the entire body.
Micah Fries tells the story of a pastor of large, successful church who didn’t measure his success by church size or ministry tenure. He measured it by the three younger leaders he mentored each year who then went on to mentor 3 younger leaders apiece the following year. He viewed leadership multiplication as the key to success. Micah shares three principles for how to do this well and the impact it will have for church health.
An important aspect of effective leadership is awareness of what your team is interested in and engaging. This list of the top 300 church blogs is exceptionally helpful in knowing what is drawing the interests of Christians around the web.
You can’t follow someone you don’t trust. The flip side of this is that people won’t follow you if they don’t trust you. Dan Rockwell shares 25 ways leaders exhibit trustworthiness.
Just as no team is healthy without a good leader so no team is healthy without all its members fitting well. Ron Edmondson shares 7 traits that make for great team members.
Few leadership roles are as public and obvious as prominent football coaches. Brian Dodd points to 30 habits of leadership we can learn from the best of these coaches.
Reading about leadership is a great way to glean insights, but often observing what leaders do is even more effective. Chuck Lawless shares 10 helpful ideas he has picked up from watching how other leaders live.
Nobody likes confrontation (at least no decent person), but it is an inherent and important part of leading well. Aaron Coalson explains the bad of not confronting and the benefits of doing it well.
How do you know if the ministry you’re doing is valuable? How do you know if it’s working? It’s easy to do ministry work day in and day out without ever stopping to evaluate the work and test the value. Philip Nation shares three questions to help you do “ruthless evaluations” – hard critiques – of your ministry. If you know that your ministry is pointing people to Jesus and is in-step with God’s word, these questions will help you continue to grow and improve.
1) Did we achieve the goal?
2) Was it worth it?
3) Could we have done something better with our efforts?
We shouldn’t be surprised when great leaders implode, when their inner lives cave in dramatic fashion. We should grieve, pray, and love, but we shouldn’t think ourselves better and we shouldn’t be caught off guard.
David, a man after God’s own heart, imploded spiritually, and this adversely impacted lots of lives in the process. Sadly, when leaders implode, they aren’t the only ones impacted. And if David, the king of Israel, can self-destruct—surely I can too. After all, I haven’t penned any psalms, expressed kindness to an enemy to the degree in which David expressed kindness to Saul, led God’s people into war and then worshiped, or killed the representative head of a pagan army. My leadership resume falls way short of David’s.
Yet we can learn from David’s internal implosion, a disaster that was externally expressed in adultery with Bathsheba, subsequent murder, and an elaborate cover-up. The first few verses of 2 Samuel 11 provides some insight. If you want to self-destruct as a leader, follow these simple principles:
1) Isolate yourself
David isolated himself. He sent all his men off to war, but he remained in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1). Some servants remained with David, but not the men who would speak truth into his life, not the men who would challenge his soul.
If you only surround yourself with people who validate anything you want or desire, you’re actually isolated with merely the impression of community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Sin demands to have a man by himself,” and a leader can be by himself in the midst of others if he stops seeking or receiving counsel and correction from wise leaders.
2) Leave boredom unchecked
At other times in David’s life, he thought about the Lord through the watches of the night (Psalm 63:6). But not on the night he discovered Bathsheba. On that night he strolled around the roof, bored, looking for something—looking for something to capture his heart and attention (2 Samuel 11:2).
Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” When we lose our awe for God, when we are bored with Him, then something else, something less, will capture our hearts. If we sense our awe for Him waning, we are wise to do whatever we can to stir our affections for Him.
3) Think you are awesome
David reached a dangerous place in his leadership where he believed he was above some of his responsibilities. For example, it was spring, a time when kings go to war, but he stayed home. He knew Bathsheba was married, but it didn’t matter. He had grown accustomed to getting what he wanted, whenever he wanted it. Pride and entitlement grows like a cancer in our souls.
We are wise to ask the Lord to search our hearts. If isolation, boredom, or pride are taking root in your heart—by all means, repent now. Receive His grace and forgiveness. They are richer and deeper than all your sin.
“Be real with people or be prepared to lose them.” These strong words open this article from Brandon Cox about how to foster authenticity in your leadership culture.
Many leaders fail to get the most out of their employees. Here are 8 leadership attributes to help you encourage your employees to go the extra mile.
If leaders are readers then making time to read, while difficult, is essential. Here are several practical tips for making time to read and leaving yourself fewer excuses not to do so.
If you haven’t seen it already you will soon: millennials are taking over the work force. It’s important to understand how to lead this dynamic generation effectively, and many misconceptions abound about them. Here are several of those misconceptions to avoid.
Sometimes optimism is needed to guide a situation, sometimes pessimism in order, and often realism is most valuable. But how do you know when to try which? Scott Cochrane helps sort it out.
Leaders often face obstacles to success, and many times those are people. John Morgan lists 12 people who are obstacles to your success . . .with a twist.
Leadership is always a temporary assignment—always. It is a temporary assignment because leaders do not ultimately own the teams, ministries, or organizations that they lead. They simply steward what the Lord has entrusted to their care for a season.
Wise leaders embrace the temporal reality of leading, and they prepare the ministry for the future. Because the assignment is fleeting, developing others for leadership is an essential responsibility of a leader.
Moses understood the temporal reality of leadership and the necessity to develop others. He personally selected and invested in leaders. As you read through the Scripture, you see him pouring into his successor, Joshua. Moses took Joshua up the mountain to receive the tablets. Joshua was with Moses when Moses crushed the tablets. Joshua guarded the tent of meeting as Moses met with the Lord. Joshua was the one chosen to spot out the land of Canaan.
Through all these critical moments in the life of God’s people, Joshua was there with Moses. And immediately after Moses’ death, Joshua was ready to lead Israel.
After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. (Joshua 1:1-2)
The leadership legacy of Joshua, sadly, is very different:
Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110… That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:8, 10)
Why the stark contrast? There is no record of Joshua investing in anyone. We don’t see him intentionally developing leaders. We don’t read of him pouring into others. And the generation after his leadership doesn’t know the Lord.
A soul-searching question: If you were to hand your temporary leadership assignments over today, would a statement about your leadership sound more like Moses or more like Joshua?
Your leadership has a shelf life. Embrace it. And prepare the ministry for the future by preparing others now.