Let me tell you about one of the best-kept secrets of youth ministry: share the wealth.
Time and time again I see youth pastors hoarding all of the authority and decision making skills in their ministries. I believe that this happens for a couple of different reasons. When I was starting out in youth ministry, I felt like I had to have all of the answers. I was the “leader, ” and so, therefore, I needed to be the one out in front taking new ground. In reality, this feeling had more to do with my insecurity than with great leadership practices.
While there is a time and place for leading out in front, great leaders allow others to share the spotlight. Did you catch that? You don’t always have to be the one out front? But how does this jive with our need to be the front man/woman? Somehow we’ve bought into the lie that for others to recognize our success, we must be the one visibly seen. Mature leaders will tell you that this lie will eat you alive.
Instead of always leading out in front, here is the way forward:
Share your leadership wealth.
Let your volunteers and leaders really lead. Give away responsibilities and tasks to those on your team. Task them with something important, and with something that has a real risk to succeed or fail.
Sharing the wealth sounds like a good idea at first, but we can easily fall into the trap of jealousy. How do we react when our leaders start receiving praise for their leadership? Do we handicap them, so they’ll never be as successful as us?
In ministry, church leadership often give pastors unrealistic expectations. I mean, aren’t they paying us to do everything? Unhealthy church leadership will say yes. But right leadership will say no. I go back to my original statement. You’ll be a much better leader when you share the wealth with those around you.
Sharing real leadership responsibility with those around you will do a few things:
1. You’ll be less likely to make decisions in a vacuum.
Hear me out about this: When we make decisions in a vacuum, we’re the only one that carries the burden of that decision if it goes well AND if it goes badly. We’re also likely to miss important details and not see the choice from every angle.
Sharing the wealth opens you up to other ideas and increases your chance of success. On a practical level, it also shields you from owning 100% of the decision if it goes bad. One can only take so many hits and still live to lead another day.
2. You’ll experience rest.
When you’re not doing everything, you’ll have time to catch a breath and focus on seeing the big picture. I’m a big believer that we need to set times to look at our ministries from a 30,000 ft perspective. Being in the weeds every day making every decision, leading every event, and micromanaging all details means we’ll never experience a 30,000 ft point of reflection.
3. Others will notice that you’re becoming a better leader.
Giving away leadership shows that you are confident, you trust others, and you know how to develop your leaders. As a result, your leaders will begin to see that your leadership is progressing and that you’re more secure than you’ve ever been.
What can you give away this week to a leader?
Share the wealth.