Before I was a pastor, I worked as an engineering manager in telecommunications. In that job, I was always looking for the next, better idea. When you learned something new, you kept it to yourself and hurried to get it patented.
But meeting Christ was a transformative moment in my life. I had been living totally for myself, and all of a sudden, God was calling me to give my life for the spiritual benefit—the success—of others. But first, I had to lay it all down—my pride, my selfishness, my ambition. I stopped holding my success so closely. I couldn’t wait to pass on to others the things I learned about Jesus while walking with him.
Now, as a pastor, I have intentionally brought this approach to ministry: lay it down, then give it away.
A true leader doesn’t view leadership of others as competition, but as cooperation. We want to increase the impact of God’s kingdom, and to do that, we have to develop leaders. And to do that, we have to be willing to set ourselves aside. We ought to want the best for the people we lead. Even if that means they will one day surpass us.
This kind of servant leadership runs counter to what we see in the world, but it’s exactly what Jesus modeled.
At our church in northwest Illinois, we organize our leaders into “dream teams.” The name comes from the idea that we’re chasing the same dream—to see people become fully surrendered followers of Christ. To make that dream come true, we have to work as a team.
Each dream team is responsible for an area of our mission: women’s ministry, men’s ministry, children, media, missions, outreach, etc. When we train them, we don’t hold anything back. We equip them, empower them, and put people in positions to lead. As leaders, we want them to know we’re there to help, but the job is theirs to do. And we are willing, even eager, for them to surpass us as leaders. When they do, the whole kingdom is blessed, and Jesus gets the glory.
Brian McWethy is an IBSA zone consultant and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Amboy.