Sunday, December 20, 2009

How to be a Life-Giving Leader: Lesson Two

In my last post I wrote about how trusting others is foundational for being the kind of leader who gives life to those who serve with him. Right alongside of trust, and even flowing directly from it, stands empowerment, which I believe is crucial to being a life-giving leader. You've got to empower the people who serve on your team to make real decisions.

Empowering people to make important decisions about a ministry is the surest way for them to take ownership of that ministry. In other words, when you empower, they invest. A group of invested servants (those who are not vocationally accountable for the ministry) is the only way to take your ministry to the next level of excellence and effectiveness. You can't do it alone. You need others to maximize God's vision for your ministry, and the best way to get them fully on board is to empower them.

When you empower someone on your team, you are also helping them to foster a mindset that they are doing this ministry for God and the church, not for you. When you hold all the power--when you control and demand--you ensure that the attitude of your team is one of service to you and your expectations. But when you let go of power, you remove yourself from that high and lofty place between the team and God. You become one of the group, and so the attitude can truly be fostered that this ministry is a service to God and the church.

Empowering others goes a long way toward breathing life into their souls. It tells them, "You are a human being. You are not just a part of some ministry machine. You are not just a cog in the wheel. You have value. You have worth. You have insight. You have good ideas. You are capable." Why do you think bureaucracy and red-tape are soul-killing? Because they are disempowering. They say, "We don't trust you. You need us to help you make this decision."

Think about the Ascension of Christ. What did he do to the eleven disciples at that moment? He empowered them. (This empowerment was later fulfilled at Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them.) In fact, one of the major streams of his ministry was the empowerment of his closest companions.

What are some ways that you can give others real power? What are some decisions you can let go of and hand off to someone else on the team? If you're in a position to hire others, are you giving them the autonomy they need to make their ministries successful? Are you letting your experts be the expert, or are you insisting on your own opinion? Are you micromanaging your team, or setting them free to take flight?

Empowerment is a scary thing because power is finite. When you give some away, that means you don't have it any more. But when you give others real power to make decisions, what you see come to fruition in their lives is of eternal value. You will see their hearts come alive, and I dare say that Hell quakes at the thought of a church full of those whose hearts have come alive.

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