So recently at Waratah, I have been on a bit of a bandwagon of empowering lay people to step into more spaces of ministry leadership. I am completely aware that in doing so I am possibly running the risk of crafting some well fashioned rods for my own back in future.
More on that in a sec but can I first say though that one thing that I have learned is that it is impossible to empower without collaboration and it is impossible to collaborate without embracing an element of risk.
A person has come back to me with some ideas and 99% of them are great. Really. There is however one that they seem passionate about which I think is genuinely not a good idea.
Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that it’s some heretical idea. It’s no big deal, I simply think that it is may be a bit of a ‘bridge too far’ in some people’s ideas of how some things on a Sunday morning should be done around here. Moreover, and this is key to the point that I am making, it is against what I would say to be my own personal preference.
Let me also take one moment to say that there is a difference between personal preference and adversely affecting others/crossing over boundaries. Where a decision crosses over into someone else’s role hence area of authority, that person must be brought in on the decision making process. For now I am simply talking about situations which do not impinge on anything or anyone else other than preference.
Now, the question is, what am I going to do about my personal preference and this idea? In my new role at Waratah, I essentially have the ‘power’ to snuff this idea out before it becomes a reality. Some may be reading this thinking “I wish I was in that position regarding situation ‘x’.” Well don’t wish too hard, because now I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do with it, and what I believe all leaders should be doing with a situation like this.
Just go with it.
Actually, no, don’t just go with it. Be honest that it’s against your personal preference but immediately assure them that you didn’t put them in that position to turn around and micro-manage what they’re doing and how they do it. Not only that, assure them that should someone make a complaint in relation to the idea or decision, you’ll not only refuse to blame them, you’ll in fact back them to the hilt. To. The. Hilt.
Maybe you are that ministry leader and you’re reading this right now, recognising the situation. Well _______ it’s not what I would do, but if you think it’s worth it and want to have a crack at it, I’m with you all the way.
Perhaps the most basic thing that Christian leaders need to model is that it is not about us. Few things will kill a Church quicker than a ‘me first attitude’ but (and please hear this) if you are a leader that is always seeming to get your own way then you can’t preach on the ‘taking up of one’s cross.’
What leaders do when ideas arise that are contrary to their opinion or preference is crucial, (and I use that word ‘crucial’ deliberately) to the discipleship culture of the church. I take pleasure in (on the extreme few times I have been on a music team recently) calling the music team leader ‘captain’. I recently was talking to a parent at our Friday night youth program and referred to our youth intern as ‘the boss’. Because no matter what my ‘title’ is, in those particular spaces; they are captain, they are the boss and my job as a pastor is to model to my sheep what it looks like to come under authority. I may have to suffer the odd embarrassment, but what do I gain?
A lot. Loyalty. If I respect the authority of others where they are empowered to lead, they’re far more likely to respect my leadership in the more general spaces. But more importantly, I seek a congregation that respects each other. What a witness that can be in a world of one-up-man-ship. Lastly, when I say to someone; ‘it’s your call,’ slowly but surely, crew are figuring out that I absolutely mean it. In an uncertain world, leaders have the power to give a certain level of certainty.
Do you always seem to be passed up for positions of leadership? Here’s a dare for you, ask those whom you directly serve under this question in a tone of humility: “Am I good or bad at coming under authority?”
Jesus’ right to be crowned king of all was never clearer than when he knelt before the least of these.