Leading from a Distance

Can you leave your church for the weekend and not fret? Can you not show up one Sunday and the worship services continue? Are most Sundays built around your charisma, your strengths and your talents or can someone different than you lead a weekend service? Do you have to be at every public gathering so people will feel the meeting is important?

I believe the real test of a leader is not so much when they are up front but when they are away and someone on the team is leading. Too many churches are built around one set of spiritual gifts and around one personality. The healthiest churches I know have empowered a diverse group of people to lead so that many spiritual gifts and many perspectives can be on display to the congregation.

This is one reason I have not embraced the video campus model and instead I am experimenting with another pastor leading a Sunday night campus who preaches my message live instead of asking people to watch me on a screen. There is nothing wrong with the aforementioned model so I am not challenging the leadership of many of my friends who do this at multiple campuses. What I am saying is there is another option that may work just as well.

My model is messier, requires a lot of relational equity with the campus pastor and demands loyalty and trust from one another. But in the end, it allows me to mentor young communicators and helps build our fellowship around a multitude of gifts and personalities and not just one. I am still the primary leader and I have final say on the sermon topics. We preach the same main points and use the same Scriptures, but a team is formed and many players get in the game.

This is just one way I am purposely leading New Life while purposely staying away from many of the gatherings. I want to lead, at times, from a distance.

Have you empowered people around you to lead or does everyone look to you to oversee every gathering? Are you preaching in your own pulpit more than 48 times a year?  If so, can I suggest you immediately begin mentoring your replacement, because unless you are spiritual Superman, you are headed for burnout.

Step away and lead from a distance. You will find rest for your soul, and the church will get to feed from a buffet of teachers and not from just one menu item. Your team will rise to the challenge and your church will become healthier than ever. Try it for a year and let me know if I am right or wrong.

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3 Comments

  1. Hey this is a great article. I’m going to email this to my friends. I stumbled on this while surfing for some some free downloads, I’ll be sure to visit regularly. thanks for sharing.

  2. steve shannon

    May 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Awesome! Healthy and functional.

    This is how Jesus operated in His ministry with His disciples and is how every secure leader can operate.

    An insecure leader, however, is apt not to follow this model. This style of leadership can lead to mirco-managing and circumvent the growth of ‘up and coming’ leaders.

  3. ihavetrustissues

    May 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I appreciate this subject being discussed, and applaud your willingness to not allow yourself to be placed upon a pedestal. We need more humble leaders in the church. I suffered for 20 years in a church with a pastor who was a controlling workaholic and who had to have everything done his way, who built a team but could not ultimately let others truly lead, and who did not have the humility to see his own faults, bias or limitations.

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