There is an old saying that goes, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” What this simply means is that when you are so deeply engrossed in something, so completely lost within the trees, it is impossible to get a clear view of the bigger picture. Simply put – you miss what is going on around you.
As ministers, you know exactly what I am talking about. You are writing messages, planning meetings, overseeing volunteers, fielding pastoral care concerns, making phone calls and taking your own messages. You feel the necessity to keep your hand (or occasionally your whole body) in on all the programs going on in your youth ministry. And before you know it, you are lost in the forest, unable to find a way out. Your whole life can be summed up in one word – BUSY.
Busy Defined: full of activity; excessively detailed; a state of having an overabundance of things to do.
Does that sound like anybody you know? Maybe you’re thinking, “That sounds like me.” Even though it is important to live a life that is driven by purpose, often times as ministers we find ourselves doing everything. Well, I have news for you. God never intended for you to do everything. In fact, God’s best for your life is found in the process of reproduction.
The life of Jesus gives us a model for reproduction. If you want to see what kind of leader Jesus was, all you have to do is look to the people who surrounded him. Jesus spent the vast majority of his time with the same twelve men. He entrusted to them the secrets of the kingdom and dedicated his life to teaching them how to minister in his stead when he was gone. In essence, Jesus was reproducing himself in them. And he encouraged them to then go and reproduce themselves in others. He never asked them to build the church off their own back. He trusted them to spread the good news and to inspire others to then go do the same.
The same challenge is given to us as leaders. Successful ministry is not founded on the power of one, but the power of many. There is no such thing as a “one man show.” We are in the business of reproducing reproducers. We are called to reproduce ourselves in others and to entrust them to then go on to do the same.
Let me give you three steps to begin reproducing yourself as a leader:
- Ask yourself what you are doing now that someone else could be doing. Believe me, the list may be longer than you think. From phone calls to altar ministry, there are people, the right people, waiting in the wings to step into these spots. They are just waiting to be asked.
- Look at the faces in the crowd. As leaders, we tend to get so focused on the end goal and momentum of ministry, we miss the opportunity to slow down and see the potential in the people. Look around and consider the “gold in the field.”
- Learn to let others drive. The hardest part is not identifying new leaders. It is trusting them to lead. If you put the time and effort into properly training these new leaders, you have to trust them to lead. They need the benefit of your experience and the opportunity to serve to properly grow into the leaders God has called them to be.
The poet Robert Frost once said, “ I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” By reproducing yourself in others, you are not only awaking people to their potential in God, you are awakening yourself to the possibilities of greater levels of ministry.