- Empowering leadership. Leadership which seeks to identify, train and empower other leaders, giving them responsibility for people and projects. #1/8 Qualities of Healthy Growing Churches
What is this Quality?
Or maybe “virtue”. It is not a skill or an activity so much as an attitude.
Leadership can be dominating – imposing my will on others so that my objectives are secured. These may benefit those around me too. That might even be my main aim. But it can then be “dis-empowering”. What happens when the tyrant falls who has skilfully removed all those who might challenge his leadership? Chaos. No one is skilled enough to take over. The jealous guardian of a rota for ministry finds that more and more often they have to step in and take responsibility, no one will come forward to help, they end up “doing it all myself” and feeling hard done by. Empowering leadership is that which does itself out of a job. It identifies and trains up others who can do the job better than they can and is delighted to let go of the reins.
How is it shown in Jesus?
Jesus demonstrates the coming of the kingdom by works of power. It is an important message in a dreadfully uncertain environment. One action, one word out of place and the whole judicial system might come down on him out of time. So how careful is he? Not. He sends out, not just the 12 – but 72 others. People you've never heard of. People no one has ever heard of. They had a go. On their own. And it worked! Jesus did not cling to the Father's work and more than he clung to equality with God. Jesus appoints the fragile Peter as leader. Jesus calls the despised Matthew. Jesus passes on his mission to those undependable disciples. He empowers them with His Spirit and with His trust.
How is it shown in the N.T. Church?
The early church is unprepared and untrained. They are doing things that Jesus did not do. “You will do greater things than these” says Jesus. Not only perhaps greater miracles of healing – but the changing of whole societies as they spread the Gospel across the known world and into governments and empires. They are establishing communities of worshippers, appointing leaders, training evangelists, developing a church. The apostles never seize control. There are councils. There are Deacons. There are local leaders who judge them. They don't always like it – but their appeal is not to “right” or “authority” but to God. The pattern of the early church is – spread like wildfire, then set up some boundaries when it becomes clear what the Spirit is doing. When Paul and Barnabas fell out over John Mark, neither of them could assert authority. They couldn't agree so they split – multiplied as we'd call it – and the work increased.
How is it shown in our Church and in me?
The funnel or the trumpet? Kids love to blow a funnel. But a funnel is for containing something precious. Helping us to bottle something we want to keep. It's a form of control. A trumpet is for spraying sounds, fluids exuberantly. It's better for broadcasting. There are places for both but the church has often used all its trumpets as funnels. We can shut down the outpouring of the Spirit if we are too careful. If everything has to go through the ordained, the appointed, the elected then everyone else will learn to sit back, not to push themselves forward, be humble and keep quiet. Then, when the leaders get old, tired, worn down, corrupt, worldly – there is no one to complain. I hope we are not like that. I hope that if anyone wants to do something for God here our leadership is such as says “yes” and then seeks to be available to enable it. We want a church of “Can We” not a Church of “They should”. Each one of us needs to keep an eye on how we react to new people, new helpers. If out first thought is - “What a nuisance I'll have to redo the rota” or “I had to wait ten years before I did that, so should you” or “Oh that's going to upset Ethel terribly” - then we are dis-empowering leaders.
How can we grow?
So we sometimes have new leaders in Cells, MLT, PCC. New projects in creativity and youth work.
Every leader should have as a top priority the raising up of others who could do the job better. We will allow people to step down from one sphere of leadership – its not a life sentence – as they have succeeded in raising up new leaders. There will be people in leadership who were not here, not even Christians, 5 years ago. There will be young people, even children, with appropriate leadership roles.
Where are you leading? Its not just about official positions or management tasks. We lead by example. We lead by our conversations. We lead at home, at work and in the neighbourhood. Keep one eye on who you might encourage into this sort of leadership too.
Don't be afraid of upsetting the status quo. Don't be afraid of risk. Don't be afraid of failure. Turn the funnel around. Let it blow.