How many leaders have made the mistake of buying into this incorrect philosophy? It’s one that is ever-present in many organizations and churches. People think that only they can do something, so they take on more and more and more. Over time they burn out, and the results are paltry as their “bandwidth” narrows and their effectiveness weakens.
The concept seems to be more prevalent in churches—especially smaller churches—where the pastor and maybe one or two others do everything. The ability of the church to grow and thrive is limited to the capability of the “controlling group.” Not a healthy situation at all.
John Bishop, senior pastor of Living Hope Church and keynote speaker at this year’s NOC, wrote a personal story on this exact topic. I would encourage you to read it. John will be talking more about this at the NOC this year. His Discussion Group in particular may be a good place to hang out if you’re feeling a bit burned out!
Just as John has learned, good leadership means leading people and multiplying your efforts. I would rather have the results that come from 90% of people serving about 50% of their time than 10% of the people giving 90%. (Yes, the math does work—go figure!)
Leading a team—empowering, equipping and inspiring them to execute the vision—is the primary responsibility of any leader. You can’t do it all, and no, it’s NOT all up to you. Sure, there are core leadership responsibilities in a church or corporate setting that shouldn’t and couldn’t be shared with a team. But in reality, when you examine it, those responsibilities are normally a short and powerful list, responsibilities that you would be able to give 100% focus to and do well—AND hear God—when you’ve taken away all the things that you shouldn’t be doing.
Taking on things that your team should be doing are DISTRACTIONS. Which is more important: formulating the vision for the next teaching series, or making a decision about the equipment upgrade in the youth center?
This may sound like repetitive commentary on leadership, but the ability to actually lead through a team means finding the right people for that team—this is sometimes the other half of the story! You cannot let go responsibility unless there is trust and confidence in your team. This can take time to build, but it is time well spent. It constantly surprises me at how weak the systems are in churches for selecting their team members. You simply cannot take the “warm body” approach if you are trying to build a good team. Make sure you have the tools, the processes, and the commitment to carefully evaluate candidates based on their gifts, strengths, proven past experience, team “fit,” and commitment to the church’s vision.
Once you bring on a team member, the hard work of equipping them begins. Take the time. Share the vision. Show the methods. Affirm, discipline, and coach. Never assume anything when it comes to people; everyone needs these three elements to succeed. At Outreach, we have worked hard to build an incredible team of people who all work hard doing the RIGHT things for the RIGHT reasons. Our job as leaders gets easier as we build high-performing teams who love what they do. What a true blessing it is to see good people in action! In forthcoming blogs, I plan to share some basic people leadership ideas to make this process replicable for all church leaders, too.