Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Empowering Leaders

Mark Driscoll has an insightful post on how important it is to develop leaders in a church plant, and how difficult that task can actually be:
This inner circle of key leaders should be chosen by the planter for their skill, trustworthiness, and loyalty. They should not be rushed into official offices too quickly (i.e. deacons and elders) but instead tested in their work and later approved for the office if they qualify. In selecting these people you must be careful to avoid the selecting of those imposters who intentionally or unintentionally appear like fellow leaders.

Needy people disguise themselves as potential leaders by making a lot of time available to the church and volunteering for every task. However, their motives are often selfish as they serve to be noticed, appreciated, validated and recognized. They also serve so that they can be connected to other people and have their many relational needs met. If you allow needy people to lead you will spend all of your time mending their hurts and listening to their feelings and be sidetracked from developing leaders who can shepherd people like them.

Insecure people disguise themselves as potential leaders by seeking out friendships with the primary influencing leaders and hanging close to the center of power. However, if you begin to push them out of the center of influence in your church because you sense that they are too easily wounded or serving because they like having power, influence, and a title you will discover that they can quickly turn their loyalties against you. If you allow an insecure person to lead you will find that they are often emotionally unstable and continually blame their failures on you and others. They will continually speak to others about how busy they are and how much they are doing so that they can garner attention from other people.

Nice people disguise themselves as leaders by having lots of people like them and enjoy their company. Nice people rarely assert themselves and are often nominated by others for positions of influence. Nice people occasionally commit to service, but usually fail to follow through on commitments and are not dependable. However, they remain very nice and everyone loves them even though they do not do anything of note. If you allow nice people to lead you will find yourself spending lots of time having long and pleasant conversations with them that never result in anything being accomplished.

Disgruntled people disguise themselves as potential key leaders because they have lots of ideas and tremendous passion. They will tell the planter how awful their last church experience was and why he is so much more talented and wiser. However, their anger and gossip should tip you off to their immaturity and you should expect that the knife they put in the back of their last pastor will soon find its way into your flesh.

Seasoned people disguise themselves as potential leaders by talking about all of their experience and success over many years of ministry. However, this can be a serious detriment to your work because if they are not humble and teachable they think they know exactly what to do and begin to impose all of their ministry philosophy and ideology upon your new church. If you allow proud seasoned people to lead you will dislike what they create and how they train emerging leaders and likely have to deconstruct and rebuild their work that will waste a lot of time and energy for you and them.

Church kids (meaning people who were raised in a church and actually really enjoyed it) disguise themselves as potential leaders by talking about how much they love God, love church, and want to be used. They will likely tell you that they want to work in your church plant because they want to be used by God and reach lost people for Christ. However, if they have failed to do anything significant to that point in their many years of opportunity you can safely assume that they are not leaders. If you allow a church kid to lead you will likely spend a great deal of time trying to convince them that your vision is tenable and that because the high has quickly worn off they need to keep going and not return to the safe and comfortable church life that they left. After a while you grow weary and so will they, and they will either return to their safe church life or simply sit in your pew and treat your church like the one they left.

Dreamers disguise themselves as leaders by continually speculating about an idealistic church with lots of passion, big words, and convincing rhetoric. However, they tend to live in the world of dreamy ideas and rarely have the discipline and courage to do anything concrete with those ideas. If you allow a dreamer to lead you will spend lots of time meeting with them and listening to them speak to you about all the things other people should do while you grow frustrated because you realize that they will never do any of those things themselves.

Flaky people disguise themselves as leaders by continually nominating themselves for a task and then failing to do it. They will then appear repentant and sad, begging for another chance to do something. If you give them another chance this pattern will continue until you kill them, they leave, or Jesus returns. If you allow a flaky person to lead (and you may be tempted to do this because you wrongly believe that the responsibility will make them more committed and dependable) you will continually find yourself checking up on them and trying to pick up their messes at the last minute.

Wolves disguise themselves as leaders by carrying themselves with confidence and expertise. However, they will naturally create divisive alliances and cause people’s loyalties to shift to them. They may do this by being overt and having lots of leaders to their home to be won over, or they may do this covertly by dropping items of gossip and undermining the leader’s authority and respect. If you allow a wolf to lead you will split your church before it is healthy enough to survive and you may find yourself out of work.

There's a lot of wisdom in these comments - it's definitely worth your while to read the whole thing. I find myself asking some follow up questions:
  • What kind of people ARE qualified to lead? I think the answer has to be something like 'broken, weak people who are finding their identity in the Gospel rather than themselves.' Not sure if Mark would agree, or how to condense that into a label...
  • How do you tell someone 'No'? "Sorry pal, but I think you're a wolf, a flaky person, a dreamer..." Ouch. Sounds kind of harsh.
  • How do you help people apply the gospel to see themselves as they really are, so that they can begin to change? How do you do this in a way that they see love, rather than condemnation or exclusion?


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