THE NEED FOR LEADERSHIP AND IT’S OBLIGATIONS

            When I was fresh into the ministry as a youth pastor I was filled with all sorts of grand notions of what ministry should look like. My worldview, being from a small town, was very small at the time because I had not yet been exposed to other worldviews. Cosgrove states that “a worldview is a set of assumptions or beliefs about reality that affect how we think and how we live”. Mine was basically small town country values and a basic understanding of Scripture. That all changed when I was called to Norfolk, VA to be the youth and music minister of a larger church. Talk about culture shock!

            As I busied myself in setting up shop, it became evident from the enormity of the task that I would need help to share the load/burden of ministry. As I studied I found the principle of replication of leadership that Paul spoke of in 2 Timothy 2:2. So I set off to train others to help with the youth, and asked two couples and one young man to join me in the task. As I did so, I realized that one young man had gifts that were potentially superior to mine, and at first felt threatened, after all, who wants to lose their position to someone they are training? As I struggled with this God impressed upon me the humility a servant is to have, and “to not think of himself too highly” (Rom. 12:3), but rather as a servant to all, including those he/she leads (Gal. 5:13).

            Eventually this turned into teams, and we eventually divided the group as they developed their leadership skills. If leadership is all about being an influence on others, then “a leader who produces other leaders multiplies his influence”. This would seem to be the intent of 2 Tim. 2:2 when Paul asked Timothy to “teach those who would be able to teach others also.” I find this to be the most important aspect of leadership, as well as the most exciting, because I get to witness God working in a powerful way in the life of someone that God has given me influence in.

            As a result my worldview has been enlarged, and I have learned some important principles. First is that of equipping. This one is easy for many to see, because of many verses of Scripture that speak of discipleship and the need to train others for the sake of the ministry (Ep. 4:11-16). The second is that of empowering, or giving people the opportunity to use their gifts under a leader’s supervision. Sanders states that “a leader must provide subordinates with opportunity to exercise and develop their powers”. Simply put, a disciple can only get better with practice and feedback from the leader.

            The third, which is to enable, is sometimes harder, because it demonstrates a certain level of trust between the leader and the disciple. It is when the disciple is allowed to exercise their gifts independent from the leader, thereby replicating the leader.  Stanley says that “when you strategically replace yourself, you allow your organization to be driven by a vision…(which) is vital to the longevity of any organization, especially the church”. As a leader replicates himself/herself, and trains the disciple to replicate as well, it begins to make possible the fulfilling of the Great Commission given by Jesus (Matt. 28:18-19).

            The final principle that I learned is that of entrusting, in which the leader hands off the ministry and either retires or goes off to begin again elsewhere. The apostle Paul demonstrated this on multiple occasions, especially as he traveled and established elders in new churches (Acts 14:23). This also how I left the church in Norfolk to begin a new church in Kentucky. The young man who I had felt threatened by became a close friend and eventually handed off the ministry to. As a result, he is now a pastor of another church, and both couples have ministries of their own in other churches, and many of the youth that they have trained are also in various ministries, one of which took over the ministry there in Norfolk.