Leveling Up Leadership, Part 2

By Andy Addis

In the first part of this series, I covered the first two levels of leaders I’ve observed over my years in ministry. Those were “Earn a check” leaders and “Serve a cause” leaders.

In this post, I’ll cover the last two.

‘Leads a cause’ leaders

The third level I refer to as “leads a cause.” These leaders not only understand but own the vision and the mission. They can articulate to others and convey passion. They can take the current church architecture and continue producing results with excellence.

You are a blessed pastor when you have one of these leaders on your staff! They are truly running arm-in-arm with you, and you probably feel a deep kinship with them as you work. If there is any drawback, they sometimes get a little out over their skis and occasionally swerve into your path as a leader.

But it would help if you always appreciated those moments as a pastor, knowing that you’ve been given the gift of a strong leader, who you can help shape into a mature leader in the days in years ahead.

And if you have a volunteer you can describe in these terms, they are often labeled a “high-capacity volunteer.” And that is a gift you should not miss giving thanks for in your prayers. Usually, the biggest drawback to high-capacity volunteers is that the world has recognized that skill in them, and they are often divided between your church, Boy Scouts, coaching and 1,000 other “good things.”

If the Lord leads, you might need to have that conversation with them, saying that they can continue serving all those good things, or if they are willing to clear their schedules, you would like to open the door for them to bigger and better God-things.

A good path for either staff or volunteer that can “lead a cause” is active apprenticing. Simply invite them to a three-phase process to help them grow and to release them into more ministry:

  • Come with me and watch what I do
  • Come with me and do what I do
  • I go with you and watch you do it

This tried-and-true method will help develop even the best leaders into better, higher-capacity, kingdom-shaking leaders.

‘Advance a cause’ leaders

The final category of leader will “advance a cause.” Not only does this leader understand and personify the church’s mission and vision where they are leading well in the current structure, but they also are busting at the seams to take everyone and everything to the next level.

These are the leaders you don’t have to inspire. In fact, sometimes you need to rein them in. And, let’s be honest, if you have a staff member or a volunteer in this category, just hit your knees and thank the Lord!

There is, however, a potential drawback. Have you ever wondered where new pastors come from or where new ministries begin? Well, they come out of the local church – churches just like yours.

I know the thought of losing the best and the brightest out of your congregation may not be what you want, but if God raised them through you to go and do something else, He has a replacement for them right there in your midst!

When you recognize this kind of leader in your congregation, you have two responsibilities:

  1. Open new doors of ministry for them to stretch, grow, challenge and take your church farther down the road. Never be jealous of them in ministry; never worry that they will outgrow you. Actually, it would be best if you were hoping they would.
  2. Let them go. When you recognize God is calling them out, you should lift them up before you send them away. If they obey God, you can only be blessed!

I hope you benefit from recognizing these different levels of leaders and how you might challenge and help them. Even more so, I hope you as a pastor are thriving as a “lead a cause” kind of leader because the pastor of every church needs to be “that” guy.

But if the weight of leadership, the stress of bivocational life or a history of difficult work in the church has dropped you down a notch in your leadership practices, then take some time to draw yourself toward the Lord and practice some of these leadership pieces yourself.

Ask a more mature pastor to apprentice you. Start a reading group with leaders who will inspire you forward. Or clear your schedule to make sure you have time for the God-things and not just a bunch of good things.

Pastor, we are proud of you, thankful for you and want you to know what you’re doing is important – and that you are not alone.

Published June 29, 2023

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