August 12, 2011

Raising Up Leaders

This is Part 2 in the series The Day the Small Group Died. Make sure you read Part 1 first.

Another way to ensure that your small group will eventually bite the dust is to ignore the need - the biblical mandate & calling - to raise up another leader. I don't care how "called" or equipped you are to lead your group, there will come a day, even if it's just for a season, that you are going to need a break. A rest. And someone else will need to step in and lead. Anyone who argues this is just fooling himself. But hopefully this isn't our main motivator. The unstoppable force that should be driving us to invest in, disciple, and equip another believer is that it's what Jesus modeled, exemplified, and told us to do!

Forgive me for (feeling like I'm) beating a dead horse, but for far too long we have underestimated and devalued the importance and significance of pouring ourselves into one person. Let's face it: We're a "Kill 2 birds with 1 stone" society. Right? We're multitasking microwavable people! 1 person? Isn't that like massively underutilizing my resources? While it may feel that way here in our Western 4G Intel Processor world, the long answer is...NO!

As a pastor and as a leader of leaders - as someone who believes with every fiber of my being that I am literally called to carry out Ephesians 4:12 - not many things pains & grieves my heart more than seeing a small group dissipate and die. It's not only an indictment on the leader, it's a wake-up call for me as the leader of the leader. This is why from Square One we have to be unwavering and determined that we are raising up leaders with passionate conviction who will stand their ground, dig in, refuse to bail out, and will pour their heart, soul, and life into that of another. We can do all the Sunday Schools and small groups we want to, but if lives are not being invested in one-on-one, the fruit on the tree (if there's any there at all) will eventually begin to wither and die.

To speak practically for a moment, there a hundreds of ways to go about this. You don't need to take a person to lunch, look them deeply in the eye and drop the bomb on them: "I want to equip you to lead so that eventually I can hand the group off to you and I can sit back in my chair and take it easy." Uh, no. If you're a leader, you already probably have a great idea who it is in your group that has potential to lead. Ask them to co-lead with you. Take them to lunch once a month and simply invest in their walk and in their faith. Dig deeper into scripture with them - deeper than you do with the rest of the group. If you're going out of town, ask them to lead the discussion while you're gone. You don't need to throw them into the deep end all at once. Walk them slowly out into the ocean...and enjoy the stroll. Don't get me wrong - this will require some patience. It probably won't go as quickly as you want it to. And it could even get messy! But it will all be worth it when you watch the Lord use you to raise someone else up that He begins to use. It's powerful! And humbling. And life-changing. Their life...and yours!

Who are you investing in? Pouring your life into?
Did someone make this investment in you as a leader?

3 comments:

Shreya Redeemed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melody said...

Working this through right now in my own heart as a leader. The church my husband is now pastoring (for the last year and a half) has deep previous roots in legalism. We once were recovering legalists as well, many years ago so it's interesting that God called us to help a group of people we once were. I can't say I was thrilled to enter into this territory at first but we do see God working, changing and moving. There was no shared leadership whatsoever back in the day with this church and I'm noticing a common thread of lack of confidence when it comes to stepping up in spiritual leadership. Now leading children's groups, service type things is no problem but when it comes to helping faciliate spiritual formation they are like "that's the preacher's job!" And of course we know better than that and we are learning and growing through this process. I wonder....do you have some thoughts on good material for a long time christian who is starting to grow for the first time. Does that even make sense? It's complicated.
On the other question....yes, someone did invest in me and is investing in me now. I have seen God provide older, wiser women in my life to mentor and guide me along. It's a true answer to prayer.

Brian Mayfield said...

2 things I would suggest:

1. A series of books by Oswald Sanders. I believe they are foundational books for any Christ-follower and essential reading for a Pastor. The books are:
- Spiritual Discipleship
- Spiritual Maturity
- Spiritual Leadership

2. Preach it! There is no greater opportunity for a pastor to cast vision and lay out foundational biblical principles than to simply teach it. Not only preaching the Word boldly, but dripping and sharing this vision with 1-2 individuals at a time.

Thanks for sharing this Melody!