I think that strong leadership is over-rated! It seems to be the shiny object that has captivated the attention of many churches, particularly as they search for a new pastor. However the Ministry Support & Development team believes that the great need is for ‘empowering’ leaders not just ‘strong’ leaders!
Whilst the two are not mutually exclusive, neither are they always found together. Strong leaders (those who are not empowering leaders) often build churches and structures that are dependent on them personally, and rarely survive the transition of leadership. Control and order often dominate the church culture in such churches. Empowering leaders, on the other hand, usually create environments that are conducive to the emergence of leaders, often seeing the next level of leadership arising from within their own church congregations. Empowering leaders are those who themselves intentionally invest in other emerging and potential leaders.
This dynamic can be seen in Exodus Chapter 18 where Jethro challenges Moses to move from being a ‘strong’ leader to an ‘empowering’ leader.
Not just empowering pastors but empowering leaders!
Healthy churches are typified by empowering leadership that extends beyond a particular pastor to the elected leadership of the church. That is, it is not just a value of the pastoral leader or team. Empowering leadership is a common value held by leadership teams before it manifests itself in identifiable behaviour.
Some of the obvious examples of this type of empowering leadership culture within churches are:
- A healthy self-confidence by those in existing leadership. (not threatened by new-comers)
- The willingness and encouragement for people to take risks (a ‘have a go’ attitude).
- Clear lines of accountability with clearly defined expectations (role descriptions)
- A culture of grace and encouragement for the inevitable mistakes that occur
- The existence of mentoring, coaching, or apprenticeship systems for developing leaders
- Known pathways of leadership development
- Encouragement for leaders to access input from outside their own church.
- Money set aside in the budget for leadership development
- Identifying leaders early on (even when they are still children), with processes in place to develop them at early ages, in safe appropriate environments.
Creating a culture of empowering leadership within churches is like planting a crop.
- What you plant determines what you get.
- Expect to harvest more than you plant.
- There is always a time period between planting and harvesting.
- If you don’t plant you will never harvest!