Leaders do lots of things; particularly, lead. Of course, if you’re a leader you know that’s massive over-simplification. Leaders challenge, encourage, inspire, influence, set the example, look at things differently, see a preferable future, and bring out the best in others to work toward that preferable future. Some leaders oversee entire companies, while others shepherd a small group of people who come together over a common interest. There are even leaders who are blissfully ignorant to the fact that someone else is following them. (These leaders are not common, but they’re out there.) Writing from the context of the church – from the point of Christ-centered leadership – there is one leadership quality that stands out and above all the rest. And I have become fully convinced, with deep conviction and belief, that it is the ONE THING we can’t NOT do! The indispensable piece of leadership that cannot be ignored or forsaken any longer is plain and simple; we must…
Let’s start with Jesus. While the point has been made, it obviously hasn’t been overstated that, while most would have expected the Messiah – the Savior of the World – to gather more and more of a following and increase the size of his “core team”, we know he did just the opposite. Jesus called 12 men – he extended an invitation to a dozen young men to “Come, follow me.” 12. That’s it. Doesn’t it seem like God-in-the-flesh could have handled more trainees than that? Sure it does. But much of what Jesus did wasn’t based on his ability – it was based on the example he was setting for us. And while he had 12 disciples, he actually had a core of 3 guys that he intimately invested in and poured himself into. And out of the 3 – Peter, James, and John – he knew that he was equipping, readying, empowering Peter to lead. Peter. One guy. That’s it.
JESUS REPRODUCED HIMSELF IN PETER.
So, whether you’re leading a life group, small group, missional community, or ministry team, what would happen if you determined that one thing was nonnegotiable? What if you decided that the one thing you would do, regardless of anything else, was reproduce yourself? What would happen – what change would take place – if your #1 goal and aim in your leadership was equipping and empowering someone else to lead? Let me tell you what would happen:
First off, you would do all the other things you’re already doing, better. If you’re leading, and doing it knowing that you’re directly modeling for someone else how it should be done, you’ve automatically raised the expectation level for yourself. You’ve said – even if it’s subconsciously – “Watch me”. When this happens, you will very intentionally focus on WHAT you’re doing, WHY you’re doing it, and HOW it’s being executed. Someone else is watching!
Another byproduct of reproduction is vision. Think of it this way: Isn’t our actual goal – the thing we’re ultimately striving for at the end of the day – to raise up leaders? Isn’t that what Ephesians 4:11-16 tells us the church is supposed to look like? I would challenge from the opposite side of the argument that, if you’re not reproducing yourself, it can very likely be exposing that you’re not leading with vision. As John Maxwell says, “…when the vision gets bigger than you, you really only have two choices: give up on the vision or get help.” If you’re ministry or your group is in a state that you can lead it by yourself, doesn’t that say something about your vision? Or lack of it? Isn’t this God’s church? His group? His vision? (Hint: Yes!) When you begin to train up another leader, this forces you to seek the Lord’s wisdom, direction, and vision for those you’re leading.
And while there are several others, let me wrap this up with possibly the most important item to point out. When our #1 goal, aim, and desire in leadership is raising up, training, equipping, and empowering someone else to lead, we’re leading like Jesus. And this is our goal, isn’t it? What other standard could be more important or worthy than this one? Jesus found the value in training that young, reckless fisherman to be a spirit-filled, courageous, bold-speaking leader who he turned to and said, “Your name is Peter, and upon you I will build my church.” You, Peter.
If you’re a leader – whether you’re leading a small group, a bible study, a staff, a ministry team, a band, or if there is anyone following you – are you reproducing yourself? This is the ONE THING WE CAN’T NOT DO!