Anytime I get to treat myself to diner food is a good time. Last week I had lunch with a fellow youth worker and all we did was share life….
Why Now Is The Time To Start Replacing Yourself
I missed about three weeks of programs. I had been away because of my wedding and honeymoon, and when I returned, I learned that no one died and the church didn’t burn down. For all, I knew I was replaceable. It wasn’t the first time I had to step out, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Early on in my ministry, I was taught the value of replacing yourself. It’s allowed me to be fully present during the birth of my sons and available during more unexpected times like the loss of a loved one. When it comes to leading, it’s essential to think about replacing yourself because:
YOU WON’T BE AROUND FOREVER
One day you’ll leave your ministry, and if you can’t even imagine the day that happens (I didn’t), there will be moments when your presence isn’t possible (e.g., taking care of a loved one, maternity/paternity leave, vacation). If you step away from your ministry, will it survive or fall apart?
In addition to you not being a permanent fixture in your position, your ministry should not rise and fall on you because:
OTHERS ARE LOOKING FOR PURPOSE
A great leader identifies and invests in future leaders. There are people in your parish with the potential to do amazing things, and some of them don’t even recognize it. As an employee in the local church, you need to invite your parishioners to do more than show up.
When you invite people to serve, not only are you going to find a substitute to step in when you are out; but, you’ll show people a new way to grow in their faith. Their role as a volunteer could fill a need they aren’t finding in their work. When you focus on replacing yourself, you focus on raising the next group of leaders.
THE VISION IS BIGGER THAN YOUR CURRENT EFFORTS
God has called you into ministry, but He doesn’t expect you to do it on your own. The reason you aren’t meant to serve alone is that the vision that God has given your parish involves the Body of Christ. We fool ourselves when we believe we are the experts. We limit the ability of the ministry to reach others when it’s about us. Instead of looking at yourself as an owner of the vision, change your perspective to be a steward. Stewards understand that they are temporary, which means they are less likely to misuse their responsibility. As a leader, you can be a good steward by sharing the vision with others.
THE MINISTRY SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON CHRIST
While people love you and will miss you when you walk away, they should not rely solely on your presence. Your ministry is about Christ; therefore, it needs Him at the center. To replace yourself, you need to make sure your decisions are based on prayer.
When you strengthen your prayer life, you allow yourself to listen to God’s promptings on when to grow and when to go. Don’t assume that because you work for the church that you are connected to His calling. Take the time to sit, listen, and reflect. He’ll tell you when you need to move on; you need to make sure you are ready to listen.
In addition to your prayer life, start taking small steps to replace yourself. An essential step by step approach would be to:
- Look at your calendar and find a weekend where you can step away and disconnect.
- Talk to your team or recruit at least two people to take the lead.
- Make a list of the tasks that you do to get ready for the program and share it with your point people.
- Have them shadow you for at least two weeks to see what you do.
- The week before you leave to make sure you check-in.
- Go away and disconnect. Let them figure out any issues they may face.
- When you return from your time away, take your people out for coffee or a bite to eat to thank them.
- Sit down with them and evaluate what worked and what didn’t.
- Do it again.
While your goal isn’t to take off every weekend, it is to get ready for a time where life happens, and you need to focus on what is most important. Don’t feel guilty; in fact, take comfort knowing you are preparing your parish for a moment you hope doesn’t come out of the blue. You are making them more durable, and it’s only going to help your ministry grow.
What makes a good leader? It’s someone who knows it’s not about them. Someone who leads well is willing to invest in those around them and embrace a bigger vision.
How are you striving to replace yourself as a leader?
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