By James Smith
One Snoopy cartoon depicts the famous beagle of Charley Brown lying on the roof of his dog house and complaining that everyone is constantly demanding something from him. He has so much more to do that he can possibly get accomplished. In the final frame of the cartoon, Snoopy sighs, “I hate being head beagle!”
Being head beagle is not always as glamorous as it appears to be. Amazingly, people struggle to become the top dog. There is some kind of allure to the top position in any given profession and the ministry is no different. An intoxication to be the one at the top of the ladder oftentimes blurs the true calling and divine purpose of too many people.
Few however, know the true cost of being the one with the title before his/her name. At the same time, those who are the One at the Top, overestimate their own true value. Any organization that only thrives because of the charisma of its sole leader is in trouble. In the day that the person whom the whole organization is revolving around falls away or steps aside, that organization is going to struggle to find direction for its immediate and future direction. Few churches/organizations who follow this pattern can survive completely with the loss of their fearless leader.
Below are a few things every great leader must consider in order that 1. Their life is not completely overran and controlled by the operations of the church. 2. In their absence, the church they worked so hard to build does not fall away.
1. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate. When a church leader fails to delegate the responsibilities that consume their precious time, it is often because they overestimate their own value and underestimate the value of their followers. “No one else can do it as good as I can.” The thinking that you are the only one who can do something a certain way causes your church to become stymied. The church becomes paralyzed when their leader becomes bogged down with petty and trivial tasks. As well, those who would want to step up and work to see the church grow are caused to feel unwanted and unappreciated. When this happens, they often times will leave a church in their search to be “Used of God”. Use them or Lose them!
2. Stay in touch. Simply delegating a task to another person is not the end of one’s role in the delegation process. A leader who gives a job to someone without following up to ensure that the job is being accomplished in an acceptable manner is setting that person up for failure. In turn this exposes a weakness in the leaders ability to properly lead a ministry team. Without micromanaging, a good leader follows up on their team members enough to ensure that they are doing the job in an acceptable manner and rewards them for it. Allowing the staff member to exercise their own creative abilities and talents causes them to feel ownership in the project they are working on. This will in turn cause the team member to not only enjoy what they are doing for God, but also cause it to grow. “Let my people Grow!”
3. Train them. Many corporations will spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to train certain workers for a specific job. Even after their initial instruction, that same worker will oftentimes receive ongoing and constant training. In the church however, we often times spend very little time in training people, yet we expect much accomplishment from them. Too often when the results we are seeing are not optimum, we remove that person instead of ensuring that we have done all that we can do to train and mentor them. Every great teacher always follows up their teaching with some type of test or exam. They don’t just teach their students and leave them. This ensures that his/her students have retained the knowledge given to them. Jesus was a master at doing this. He wanted to be sure His disciples would succeed. When we ensure someone’s success in a given ministry, we are ensuring our own success as leaders of the Church and the success of the ministry we are corporately serving.
4. Be patient. Few people are an overnight success in any given role. Being successful at anything takes training and practice as well as the opportunity to make mistakes. There is nothing wrong with allowing somebody to make a few mistakes. When we refuse to let someone make mistakes, we are refusing to allow them to learn from those mistakes. It is not easy for most leaders to sit idly by and watch their protégés do something the wrong way, but patience in this area will allow the person the opportunity to become skilled at finding “their own answers and corrective measures to succeed.”
5. Give Rewards. Have you ever noticed how occasionally a football coach will pat one of his players on the backside just before an important play or after executing one? Why does he do this? He does it because coaches for decades and from every kind of sport have found that personal and positive encouragement causes a player to rise above the others on the field. Rewarding your staff both openly and personally will cause them to want to please you. It’s not often in the workplace that a worker’s desire is to please their boss. In the church however, many lay people work extra hard to gain their Pastor or Leadership’s approval, acceptance and acknowledgement. “Bless them and they will bless you!”