Mature Leadership Knows When to Let Go

by Sam Rodriguez, Director of Hispanic/Latino & Multi-Ethnic New Church Starts, Path 1

Keep your relationships healthy by allowing leaders to lead.

Have you ever been in a church committee meeting where a new member has shown up enthusiastically ready to share his or her idea  about a new ministry only to be stifled by wondering eyes, heads bowed down, or just plain indifference. It has been awhile since I have experienced this, but it has happened, and on more than one occasion. As churches mature and formalized leaders are identified (granted a good thing), this happens more often. It is easy to see how the scenario I just shared can become common in a maturing churches.

My question is: How will the maturing church ensure that your new ministry ideas will truly be considered?

As one thinks about the roles of leaders (either volunteer or paid) a key to their success is their ability to let go, and empower people to lead by simply saying, “Do it!” Granted some level of accountability must be put into place, but not so much so that it paralyzes the new leader’s excitement and creativity.

A wonderful example of a leader who was not multiplying his leadership is found in Exodus 18: 17 -27. In the passage, Jethro gives leadership guidance to his son-in-law Moses.

Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten (Exodus 18:17-27 The Message).

We know that Jethro’s idea paid off in the end so that when Moses died Joshua was prepared to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Indeed, these are extremely useful steps for the leadership of a maturing and burgeoning church to heed, not only in order to foster effective ministry but also for the sake of the leader. After all, Jethro was concerned that Moses had become overwhelmed with his work and was unable to care for his family, who also depended on his wisdom. How much longer might have Israel had been in the wilderness if Moses had gotten completely burnt out?

Mature leadership comes from a leader who knows their time and abilities are limited and that understands the need for the next generation to be groomed. What happens to our ministry when we don’t have any Joshua-figures ready and willing to take charge? This isn’t just about being flexible or inclusive. It’s also about survival. Societies, cultures, and perspectives change continuously with or without our help. We can fight and try to be the same church we were twenty years and usually fail, or we can listen to the new voices coming into our community and try to stay relevant in our ministry.

How does your church encourage new leadership? Tell us right here.

About srodriguez

Samuel Rodriguez was a commissioned missionary with the Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church from October 2000 to May 2009. In the last seven years, he was assigned to the Central Texas Conference as Conference Coordinator for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. While serving there, Sam facilitated training opportunities for the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. As a staff member of the Office of Church Growth and Development, Sam helped create opportunities for several Hispanic /Latino New Church Starts. He holds BA in English and American Literature from the University of Texas in El Paso and an MA in Christian Service from Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University. Sam is married to Demetria J. Rodriguez, and they have two children, Samuel Joseph and Vanessa Rae.
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