God has called us into being and is preparing us for a purpose. In light of this purpose, he sometimes assigns us to courses we would not have chosen as electives. The process of our preparation often seems slow and painful, but there is no painless way to create servant leaders who possess depth and character.
One day a beautiful girl kissed a frog. On the surface, it appeared to be just a simple kiss. As it turned out, it was not unite that simple. Regardless of what she thought, the moment she touched her soft lips to the slimy skin of the frog, a transformation occurred. The lime green frog was transformed into a handsome young prince. Actually, according to the story, the prince was liberated to be all that he could be.
What that girl did for the frog, leaders do for their followers. Leaders are in a unique position to help their followers to develop their own leadership skills and to reach their full potential. They can then become all that God created them to be.
When Jesus commissioned the seventy to go out in pairs, he knew that they would face hardship. After all, they departed without food, money or extra clothing. Yet they tasted success. Why? First, because they were well trained. They knew where to goand what to say. They even knew in advance how to deal with rejection. Second, they had a clear vision: They were impelled by Jesus urgent declaration that “The harvest is plentiful.”
When they returned they were filled with joy and shared stories of success. Not only did their leader (Jesus) listen to their reports, but he praised their efforts. And, more importantly, he praised them. Jesus mastered in leadership development. He trained leaders, tested them and then rewarded them.
- The leader of the church should be the conductor of the symphony not the star of the show. The leader’s job is to maximize the fruitfulness and growth of the people on his team, and their job in turn is to do the same for those they lead. For those who see things through an authority paradigm, let me put it this way: you’re not divesting yourself of authority, you are making it less visible. Think to yourself, “Whenever I as leader take on a responsibility, I’m taking it from someone else.” Furthermore, when I take “important” jobs and give away the “unimportant” jobs, I am communicating that I am important and others are unimportant. Ouch. That will not build team ministry, I promise.
- “Church” should be seen as a fellowship of ministers rather than a place, a service, or a gathering. My Biblical picture of this is Nehemiah. Basically everyone had a place along Nehemiah’s wall regardless of their vocation. All held a load in one hand and a sword in the other. My secular picture of this is a Partnership. In a partnership there are many owners. In a corporation, everyone works for the CEO in a pyramid structure.
- The primary job of the fellowship is to grow people, and identify the place along the wall where they will make the most difference and find fulfillment, and then to help them do it! This means provide the people, the training, the money, any resources needed to help people build God’s Kingdom in the way they are passionate about. Most churches operate on one of two extremes they either push people into roles they aren’t necessarily excited to perform, or they encourage them to “find their destiny” or “go ahead and start something.” Neither one of these will get the job done. We have to show people what there is to be done, and give them opportunity to walk in one of those paths before they will know.
- Roles are fluid, just like people. People grow and situations change. Moreover, many people have a wide variety of talents. That means we need to stop thinking about a particular ministry as a long term “calling” and more like a short to medium term “role.” I’ve done kids church, adult education, worship, prayer, pastoral counseling, etc. If someone had limited my life to one of these, I would have been stunted, and someone else would have missed their opportunity to grow.
- Resources should chase results. As a fellowship of ministers, we can think of ourselves like an investment group. We want to invest in the places and people that are getting results at that time. If we think giving the staff a raise will produce more results, we should do that. If we think that investing in a better website or facility will produce more results we should do that, but the bottom line is that we should make effort to economize our time and money and then invest it where it’s going to do damage to Satan’s kingdom.
These things change the game for the ministry men in the church. Instead of a race to get into the leadership seat where there is freedom and pay, it is a team sport to grow God’s Kingdom. Now this does not mean that we never put people into full time ministry, it just means that we make that decision with different glasses on. Perhaps the first person to be paid is a young single person who can evangelize full time for a thousand dollars a month and place to sleep. Maybe instead of hiring associates, we find ways to farm out the “counseling” to people who have other jobs. Maybe we even give them a stipend for the sacrifice. Why does it sound crazy to us to pay a member of the congregation to minister part time, but it doesn’t to pay someone to do the same thing full time? Maybe our traveling guys really get priority. The fellowship makes a pointed effort to keep people out on the field advancing.
You can get away with not having the senior leader paid for a lot longer when he is not the personal incarnation of prophet priest and king. By the way, few men are better at all three roles that the best of exemplar of each from their congregation. If he is not preparing every week for every sermon, and doing most of the counseling, and making most of the decisions, then the investment needed on his part is much lower and comparable to the other members of the team. Rotate the preaching responsibilities. Spread the counseling around. Focus on empowering others to grow and advance. Part of this is by not hogging the responsibilities. This does not mean you should not ever go full time, but do so when it meets the “results” criterion above. Once you reach a point where the responsibilities are shared, but it is clear that making you full time is going to really help the ministry, that is a reasonable time.