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Month: September 2012

A leader of leaders

As an associate it is tempting to become a “doer of ministry.” We can see the lead pastor as the visionary for the congregation/ministry and our role in Christian Education, Youth Ministry, Visitation, etc. as where that vision gets carried out. We have been hired to do youth ministry, we think, so we had better do the youth ministry. Whenever someone volunteers to help us, we say, “No thanks,” because we view the assistance as a veiled condemnation of our inability to do our jobs. We do a disservice to our congregation when we become the professional experts who do everything in our ministry area.

The Apostle Paul intentionally brought others around him. We read of Luke, Mark, Timothy, and others joining him on his missionary journeys (e.g. 2 Timothy 4:11). He wrote of those whom he sent to be with the churches in his absence. He appointed leaders to the congregations he had raised up and worked with other leaders who were also about building up the churches with whom he had relationships. As you read the New Testament letters you get the sense Paul was managing a network of church leaders.   I would argue this is one of the major reasons Christianity grew under Paul’s leadership. He wasn’t trying to do it all on his own.

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Ministering up

Kurt Madden, in his book The Synergetic Follower: Changing Our World Without Being the Leader introduced me to the phrase “managing up.” When an employee – the “follower” – notices when the leader is about to make a bad decision, is in need of information, or is struggling with a project outside his or her skill set. The wise follower will offer their opinion, gather the necessary information, or offer to take on part of the project. This is “managing up,” taking the initiative to assist the leader do their job more successfully.

Most of us think a good follower is a yes-man or yes-woman. But in the words of Madden, “Good leaders know they don’t have all the wisdom and knowledge, so finding followers, who complement their own strengths, is a top priority” (Madden 142). Business leaders need staff-people who are willing to take a risk to assist them, care for them, and help them, and the company, be successful. The same is true of our church leaders.

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