A number of years ago I learned from then FLGA District Mission Executive, Jerry Seaman that there are three ingredients to expanding the number of people serving the Lord in meaningful ways. I don’t think we called it empowerment back then but it made a lot of sense and it shaped my thinking ever since. It was a simple formula but powerful if you actually put it into practice:
- Give people meaningful things to do.
- Support and help them along the way.
- Celebrate the results.
Sound too simplistic? Well it is simple, but not easy. Let’s look at them one by one.
1. Give people meaningful things to do. Meaningful to whom? To them! People are not satisfied with folding bulletins. They want to make a difference in people’s lives. Interview them (see above, part 3) and find out what that means to them. Then give them the opportunity and don’t get in the way. In fact, get out of the way! (Was that too strong?) But I’m not in the way! Are you sure? Check again. You are perfectly designed to get what you are getting. So if people are not engaged and growing, “Houston we have a problem.” Change begins with you.
2. Support and help them along the way. People are reluctant to step up because they don’t want to look foolish in front of their peers and/or they don’t want to fumble the ball when it comes to serving the Lord. They also know that often they feel like they have a target on their back in the church when they try to do something. Too often in the church our actions toward servant leaders feels like dumping it on them and sending the message – “sink or swim” it’s now on you. I wouldn’t step up in that environment either. So counter that by creating a culture of support and help. This is servant leadership at its core that constantly asks, “How is it going and how can I help?” While at the same time not taking the responsibility from them. Why? Because you believe in them! You believe that God has created them with great capacity to do great things! Keep in touch, call them, write an encouraging note, stop them at church, and be interested in their success for their sake – even when from your perspective it is a small thing. See what happens!
3. Celebrate the results. This is one area I would miss. I would often be looking down the road at the next thing but had to learn that celebration is crucial, even when things went bad. That’s where debriefing comes in. What worked, what didn’t, what did we learn, how can we improve next time? But celebration is crucial even when things go well. Stop and smell the roses! Rejoice at what God has done through even you and especially the laity! Thank them! Give God the praise. After all, God did it anyway, right?
- Which of these steps do you already do?
- Where do you need to grow and be more intentional?
- How well do you “give away the ministry”?
- How can you put into use the three steps? Who, what, when, how? Name it.
- What’s stopping you? How will you overcome that barrier?
- Celebrate the results with God!
Empowering Leaders Part 4