Are you raising up people who are dependent on you? For spiritual food, for sermons, for meeting their needs? If you died tomorrow, do your people have the roots to continue growing? What about new ministry leaders who, in their own right can feed themselves, go on to make disciples, and even lead churches? To answer affirmatively, you’ll need to tap into the essential senior pastor competency of empowering others.
The most effective pastors empower others.
Just as a parent helps their child learn life skills that help them become increasingly independent—so pastors empower those in their congregation. They are not meant to remain dependent on the pastor for everything. They are meant to be nurtured and grow—to go out and minister apart from you.
The writer of Hebrews addresses this dilemma:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
One of the primary tasks of any senior pastor is that of empowering others.
For the purpose of the Senior Pastor Profile, Empowering means coming alongside others to help them live into their God-given gifts and talents.
Paul writes extensively about the importance of empowering people and raising them up so as to build up the church into strength and maturity:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16
6 Habits that Demonstrate Empowering Others
What does it look like to empower others? Although it’s a bit different for everyone, here are some of the features held in common:
1. Promotes vision-based innovation
Empowerment requires innovation. When you have a clear vision, the challenge is to determine how to make that vision a reality. Possible methods abound, some more effective than others, but all hold a sense of possibility. Good senior pastors will practice the creativity that goes into innovation.
2. Affirms the efforts and initiatives of others
Empowering others is always a risk. They may not do it like you do it. They may come up with a different method or means entirely. But that’s okay. Empowering others means letting go of control and giving up having to do everything yourself. The Spirit of God is in all of us and speaks through all of us, so we need to trust others and empower them to move forward according to what they hear from God.
3. Develops other people through show-how training
The best training isn’t classroom training; it’s hand-on experience. How would you want your surgeon trained? By reading a manual? Or through hands-on experience with oversight, assistance, and coaching? Use the same basic methodology training others: have them watch what you do, talk about it, let them help, let them do it with supervision, then let them do it on their own. At that point, they are fully trained enough to train others.
4. Coaches and mentors emerging and established leaders
For show-how training to work, people need coaches. They need someone to come alongside them and walk them through the process. They need someone to troubleshoot with, to observe, and to give feedback. As a senior pastor, you’ll want to be one of those coaches to ensure you are passing down the skills and values you intend.
5. Resources leaders and workers effectively through supportive relationships and ongoing training
Even when people have been fully trained and empowered, they will still need support along the way. Good senior pastors ensure that their leaders are receiving resources, relational support, and coaching as they continue in ministry. Without that intentional support, those leaders who have had so much invested in their previous development will burn out.
6. Facilitates multiplication of leaders, groups and ministries
Coaches for these newly minted leaders are then in the perfect position to encourage the ongoing development of more leaders and the passing down of skills that have been learned. When people are truly empowered, it facilitates the multiplication of leaders, groups, and ministries as the empowerment is passed down.
How well are you engaging in empowering others?
If you would like to assess yourself in this area, take some time to reflect on the following questions. Write out your answers for more complete processing, or talk them through with someone if you’re more of a verbal processor.
- How have you promoted vision-based innovation?
- In what ways have you affirmed the efforts and initiatives of others?
- When have you developed others through show-how training?
- What emerging and established leaders have you coached or mentored?
- How have you effectively resourced leaders and workers through supportive relationships and ongoing training?
- How have you facilitated the multiplication of leaders, groups, and ministries?
Empowering is 1 of 12 qualities that have been proven to be essential to successful and healthy senior church leadership. To learn more, read The BEST qualities in a Senior Pastor. Next week, look out for another crucial quality for senior pastors.
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