source: leader will face the end of their “career” at least once.  You have two choices:

1. You can hang on until you are replaced, which gives you limited input in what happens in the future of the organization.

2. You can prepare someone to do what you do, which allows the organization to follow the vision, not the person.

In order to do the second we need to tear down the leadership walls. Leadership walls keep other leaders out. If you fail to replace yourself, you will:
1) Force talented people to remain in the wings
2) Cause potential leaders to exit the organization
3) Stifle needed insight from valuable team members
4) Hinder your volunteer recruitment ability
5) Limit the growth of your ministries

Our different leadership styles can adversely affect our ability to reproduce leaders:

  1. The entrepreneurial leader specializes in taking risks and pioneering new territory, but may see other’s ideas as threatening or as competition.
  2. The nurturing leader is patient and encouraging, but may lack zeal to confront in areas that need growth.
  3. The charismatic leader can inspire people to follow the dream, but may become jealous and defensive when another leader is needed.
  4. The innovative leader uses creativity to produce something relevant and original, but may become possessive of their work if improvements are attempted.
  5. The managing leader coordinates staff and develops systems very well, but may resist questioning or changing the process.
  6. The high-performance leader can juggle a big workload and still be productive, but may fail to delegate, resulting in no one else owning the vision.

You must shift your thinking as a leader from doing ministry to replacing yourself in ministry.  Ask yourself, what keeps those around me from growing as leaders?

Here are some things you can do to replace yourself in ministry:

1. Applaud those who applaud others. When you applaud those who applaud others, you send a message to everyone about what is really important – people.

2. Focus on developing others instead of yourself. Job security is often based on personal insecurity.

3. Position your volunteers to recruit. Volunteers hold the key to the fulfillment of the vision. If only you recruit, your ministry growth is limited. If your volunteers recruit, your ministry growth can be exponential. Leaders don’t volunteer, they are recruited.

4. Teach what you know. The most effective way to train people is through apprenticeship. You don’t have to know everything, but you are responsible for handing off what you do know. Focus on that.

If you’re going to replace yourself in ministry you must be prepared to Equip others. Break it down. Know what it is that you are doing and outline clear and doable steps for those you are leading and make sure that you have taken the time to teach them to do it. Then you must Empower them by handing it off. Everyone learns best from mistakes, so allow others to learn from their own mistakes. View others as your partners and not as competition in ministry. Give them opportunities to do ministry! Finally you must be prepared to Evaporate; Let it go! Understand how handing it off and letting it go will benefit the bigger picture. Remember that it all belongs to God anyway. It is easier to let go of what is not yours.

What would you have to change in your current approach to ministry to make it possible to replace yourself in ministry?  If you haven’t done so yet, take a few minutes to think through your plan for replacing yourself in ministry using the steps of the Leadership Square.

This post is based on the speaking notes from “Pastoring with the End in Mind,” led by Bill Wolfson (Tacoma, Wash.) and Dan Hammer (Everett, Wash.) at the 2006 FCA International Convention in Monterrey, Mexico.

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