Being away from the ministry for seven weeks was not only a test for me, but also for my team. Those of us who are business owners, pastors, parents, or ministry leaders don’t really know how strong our “team” is until they are on their own. In the case of my sabbatical, they were REALLY on their own!
How “on their own” were they? I put a calendar on the wall, outlined the weeks I would be out, sat back and gave them the responsibility of deciding everything that went into those seven weeks:
Who would handle the Sunday morning services- preach, MC, and offerings.
Who would handle the Sunday night services- same as above.
Who would handle staff meetings
Who would handle Leadership Updates
In all, over 50 decisions had to be made. Once they presented the plan, I vetoed only 2. When I got out of the way, it was refreshing and inspiring to watch them work. I received so many great reports on how well everyone did while I was out, but I’m not sure that everyone realizes that the leadership team planned and executed EVERYTHING. Even the four week “You Are There” series was their idea and execution.
While I was out, I ran into so many pastors who expressed their amazement at my ability to be away for so long without daily, sometimes even weekly contact or updates. I actually only had to be involved in two decisions that came up in that 7 weeks. One pastor said to me, “If I was away for more than 2 weeks, my Church would fall apart!”
What can all of us pastors, business owners, parents, and leaders learn from an experience like this?
1. We don’t really know the strength of our teams until they’re on their own. Some may think their teams are strong, and can really step up to the plate when needed…but we don’t really know if they can hit the ball until they step up to the plate and SWING. Others may think that their teams are too weak to step up and lead, but again…you don’t know that until you let them TRY!
2. When we let people lead without micromanaging, it reveals what kind of a leader WE are and what we have actually TAUGHT our teams! Many leaders are terrified of this, and this is sometimes why we don’t step back and let them soar.
I have some things going for me: First of all is the great talent that I have on my team. More talented and gifted than I am, for sure. Secondly is the freedom that they have to speak up, analyze, and question what we do and why we do it. Then thirdly, I have taught them what to do, how to do it, and WHY we do it. Add to that the non-threatening environment of allowing them to be themselves and bring their strengths to the team, and we have together created an environment of strong leadership.
3. Real leaders have INFLUENCE. It doesn’t matter who is left “in charge” and how much planning they do if no one will follow them! I am so thankful for a Church that not only stayed strong, but GREW during our absence. No one pulled the “the senior pastor’s not here so we’re gonna check out until he gets back” card. Everyone stepped up, led, and served in excellence while we were gone!
So I want to say a big THANK YOU to Living Word Family Church…the BEST Church on the planet. For your heart, your leadership, your followership, and just being wonderful to serve with! Connie and I LOVE changing lives with you!