There are those satisfying moments in leadership when simple feedback encourages you to continue to step out in faith and take a risk by equipping and empowering leaders "to do the work of the ministry to build up the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12)
The other day I received a text message from an emerging leader in our church who has overcome significant personal and social fears, stepping way out of her comfort zone, to pursue her heart for mission and desire to develop as a leader. A statement within her message said, "Thank you for having faith in us." This affirmation resonated with me as only a week earlier my twelve year old daughter sent me a message saying, "My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me."
Empowering leaders hasn't come naturally to me as it has clashed with my perfectionist nature and desire to get things done in the most efficient way possible. It has meant letting go of control, learning to value process and giving people permission to make mistakes. I still need to resist the temptation to say, "leave it with me I'll deal with it" and remind myself to say, "let's talk about how you might go about dealing with that situation." While I may see clearly where we are and where we want to be and have a strategy in my head about how best to get there, I am not really empowering leaders unless I am prepared to engage them in the process.
Empowering leadership has become a stated value in the Church and other organisations, but it only ever becomes a real value when it is integrated into the ethos of leadership. This becomes a reality when we are prepared to step out in faith and take a risk in giving real-time authority to emerging leaders. Craig Groeshel pushes this point by saying, "You do not just delegate tasks to the next generation or you will just create followers. You delegate authority because then you create leaders."
Is there a risk in empowering leaders? Absolutely! Is there a cost in empowering leaders? Yes, but there is a greater cost not to or to just giving lip service to empowering leadership. When we exercise the biblical mandate to "equip the people of God for the work of the ministry to build up the body of Christ," we unleash the full compliment of the gifts of the Spirit and generate an "unstoppable force" (McManus) for the kingdom of God!
“Good leaders give their power away. They look for good people, and they invest in them to the point where they can be released and empowered to perform.” (John C. Maxwell)