Not giving away leadership.

We’ve seen it countless times in local churches.  Senior pastors in local churches say they want to build a preaching team.  They hire a staff of talented communicators.  These communicators are young, energetic, charismatic, and funny.  They add tremendous life and vitality to the church.  People are naturally drawn to them and the church begins to develop significant momentum.

But then for no real reason, over time they are offered less and less opportunity to preach.  The senior pastor begins to take fewer Sundays off.  And when he/she does, they often bring a guest speaker, usually a friend of theirs, in from the outside.

In addition, the talented communicators are soon marginalized in staff or planning meetings.  Their ideas are minimized at best, or sharply cut off at worst.  Soon, their attendance is not required at planning sessions at all.  Ultimately, they are reassigned to ministry abyss.

The young leader becomes frustrated, disillusioned, loses trust, and then angry or worse, apathetic.  Soon this gifted team member leaves the organization for opportunities to spread their wings and shine at another church.

“This is exciting news,” the senior pastor tells the congregation with great pride and enthusiasm, “Because God has called us to be a sending church!”  Everyone smiles and nods because that is what good, mature Christians do.  We give the young leader a standing ovation.  The church receiving the leader is obviously happy.  “It is a win for the Kingdom!” we all declare. 

But those in our churches who are truly leaders know what a grievous leadership sin has just occurred.  Leaders know that because of pride, jealousy, envy, lack of organizational intelligence or a combination of all the above, the church experienced an unnecessary loss.  Another talented person has left our team because leadership has not been given away.

The following are five results of not giving away leadership in a church environment:

1. The Leader Becomes The Church’s Lid

The fundamental desire of leaders is to….LEAD.  Not surprising is it?  Leaders want to stretch.  Leaders want to grow.  Leaders want to test their ideas and see the type of impact they can make.  Leaders want to build teams and influence others.  Leaders want to make an immediate and eternal impact.  When lids are placed on leaders they will either stagnate to the level of mediocrity of their current existence or they leave for better opportunities. 

2. Ministries Are Limited In Their Effectiveness

Sadly, a leadership culture of suppression is not limited to just the young, emerging communicators on a church staff.  Pastors can become the lids to their entire church.  Great results in the Children’s, Youth, Evangelism, and Generosity ministries can be stifled or even stopped because “it’s not who we are” or “we don’t want to get ahead of God”. 

Sometimes these statements are true but more often than not they are simply euphemisms for the fact senior leadership is simply not passionate or excited about the work being done or who is doing it. 

3. Issues Are Not Addressed

One of the most fundamental leadership truths is “If a leader doesn’t see it, it doesn’t get seen.”  Nothing erodes confidence in a leader more than when everyone knows an issue needs to be addressed, but the leader will neither deal with it or give the leadership away to qualified staff to solve it.  It is not on their radar and because of their inwardly-focused leadership, the problem continues to fester.

4. Momentum Is Lost

The Bible is correct when it teaches one can put a thousand to flight but two can put ten thousand to flight.  There is power in the multiplicative process of giving ministry away.   Young communicators bring a new perspective and fresh voice.  They connect with a portion of the audience previously disconnected.  They give the church an expanded platform and sustainable future.  When pastors do not give ministry away, they forfeit freshness, connectivity, and sustainability.

A Year From Now You Will Be Glad You Started Today

5. Young Leaders Leave

Many fathers of young girls are taught if you do not hug your daughters, someone else will.  This principle is true for leaders as well.  When leadership is given away, leaders feel valued.  Trust is placed in their hands and they respond with quality effort and results.  A deeper sense of loyalty and ownership is rooted in their soul.  When leadership is not given away, the opposite takes place as leaders will seek out or welcome opportunities to own results elsewhere.  A talented leader was once asked why he was receptive to overtures from a rival organization.  His response is a sober warning to all pastors who do not give leadership away, “Everyone likes to be told they’re pretty.”

6. A Leadership Culture Is Not Built

The leaders in your church know when senior leadership is not giving away leadership.  They know who the lid in the church is and they know the church or organization will not grow beyond that person’s leadership capacity.  Young leaders know when opportunities are lacking and will choose to seek out alternative venues to use their gifts. 

Older leaders may choose not to leave the church because of a long history there and/or deep relational connections.  However, they will choose to leverage the time, energy, and resources in other high-growth endeavors. 

Quality leadership environments attract quality leaders.  Environments where leadership is horded and not given away will fail to attract generous leaders who give freely of their time, talent, and treasure.  Apathy becomes the prevailing attitude of leadership becomes they know nothing will ever change.

7. The Church Does Not Grow

When leadership is not given away, ministry expansion and contraction takes place.  In addition to their being a lid on people, there is a lid on the church.  It simply cannot grow beyond a leader who does not give ministry away.

Here is the progression – Young leaders come and get involved.  The church begins to grow.  Momentum and life change are taking place.  Sadly, ministries are then stifled and limited in their effectiveness for no apparent reason.  Issues are not addressed by the pastor who chooses not see them.  Momentum reverses and is then lost.  Leaders leave for better opportunities.  The culture becomes apathetic.  Growth does not take place.

Many of us have seen this cycle played out too many times.  This is not the church Jesus died for. 

In conclusion, secure leaders who give away ministry are desperately needed.  God simply cannot place anything in the hands of a closed-fist leader.  God can only place things in open hands.  Leadership must be released and given away.

As Christian leaders, we do a good job of weeping with those who weep.  We must do better at rejoicing with those who rejoice.

The generous pastor who gives away leadership celebrates the accomplishments of his/her team.  They expand the platforms of others.  Open-handed leaders point to others and says, “Look over there!  Look at what they’re doing!  Look at what God is doing in that ministry with that pastor and with that team!”

Does this describe you?  If not, this may be the reason your church is not growing.  Think about it.

Preaching Rocket helps you develop a plan to empower other leaders, instead of hoarding leadership for yourself!

Module 10 - Preaching Rocket

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