Developing Leaders, Not Followers

by | Leadership, Team Development

By Eric Byrd

Each staff meeting is a bit different at my church. We’ve had a lot of staff turnover in the last 12 months. Therefore, we have to discuss church business, who’s doing what, who’s coming in, and oh yeah, Sunday is on the way. Our pastor makes a strong effort to keep these meetings to 60 minutes. That means some items on the agenda do not get a full, robust dialogue.

But one thing that accompanies each and every meeting is some sort of leadership development component. These additions to our meetings have been wonderful. They are edifying to the spirit. I would encourage you to find leadership content and make it a part of almost every meeting you have in ministry.

Followers VS Leaders

At one particular meeting, we listened to the wise words of Pastor Craig Groeschel. He said something that stopped me in my tracks. I can’t remember what larger point he was making, and I don’t remember what else we talked about in the meeting, but I certainly remember his statement:

“Give someone tasks and you grow followers. Give someone responsibility and you develop leaders.”

Whoa…. Sit in that for a quick second….

For what seemed to be my whole leadership life, I had defined being a leader as the one who gives others stuff to do. I think I was probably told that somewhere, and it was probably modeled for me in some way too. But, I had to do some self-analysis:

“How many leaders have I actually grown?”

“Who have I trained to take my place?”

“If I got hit by that bus—(it’s never a plane crash or a bike accident…)—would ministry happen with excellence?”

Unfortunately, the answer was either not enough or no.

What’s Keeping You from Developing Leaders?

I firmly believe you cannot fix what you don’t acknowledge. Leaders, if you’re like me and you’ve come to the realization you have not done a superlative job of leadership development, ask yourself why not? Is it pride? Insecurity? Is there a seed of feeling threatened if someone is developed to the point they could do your job—perhaps, even better than you? Are you afraid if you develop a leader, your employer might give them your job?

If so, I would encourage you to remember that what God has for you is for you. No matter your employment status and no matter where you are employed, God is always in control. He will take care of you, as the hymn writer composed. Free yourself from that feeling of insecurity. God will bless you with your current employer and He will bless you as you transition from one to another.

Take it from me: I’ve moved mountains and been fired without cause, I’ve worked outside of ministry and now I’m back in ministry.  And, I’ve seen the providence of God throughout the whole journey. So, you might as well get over yourself because God is going to have His way anyway.


Learn What Not to Do from My Mistakes

For me, it wasn’t ego but control. I really struggle in letting someone else have the authority to make their own way. Not to say that I’m a controlling person, but I’m a workaholic; I’m used to not having a lot of ministry support, so I have been trained to take care of things by myself. I have a high motor and I get things done. All great traits, right?

That would be a nuanced wrong!

It’s great that I get things done, but not at the expense of raising up other leaders! That is not ok!! I’ve got—let’s face it, we’ve got—to give folks the freedom to fail. We need to give them responsibilities, talk them through how to create a work flow, ask them questions and support them when they make errors. They don’t have to do it my way. They just have to do it with excellence being the goal.

Followers only know how to complete tasks, and you need them too! But to really take your ministry to the next level, you need leadership. Folks with fresh eyes, fresh vantage points with a diverse perspective to grow can propel you into greatness. I decided I don’t want my way more than I want to work with leaders.

And leaders need the power to make ministry happen.

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