Someone once asked "Are you going through life or are you growing through life?" I love that question. Right now I am going through significant transition in how I lead. I have never been more motivated by the maxim, "If you are doing what you did last year, you're not growing."
One of the greatest growth challenges for any leader is the ability to empower and release others. While I constantly aspire to raise up others, I am consistently amazed at the conditions of my heart that hold me back. Specifically there are four internal barriers that I must consciously work through. Maybe one of these is stopping you right now.
Why do we stop empowering others?
#1 Empowerment increases the scope of unknown ministry outcomes.
As soon as you give some else the steering wheel, you don't know which road they are going to take. How is your own need of control keeping you from a step of delegation? How can you develop your faith and take a calculated risk with one of your leaders?
#2 Empowerment requires a sacrifice of short-term ministry efficiency.
Chances are, you are not only good at what you do, you are also fast! And when Sunday's a coming you don't have time to develop someone else. WRONG! You have probably waited to long. The current need for expediency is not only unhealthy, its also getting in the way of mission expansion and ministry multiplication. Is it time for you to slow down in order to speed up?
#3 Empowerment requires giving away authority that previously provided the basis of personal ministry success.
Okay, I know this one really meddles. But it's true in my life. Over the years its easy to get addicted to the minor, everyday accolades and at-a-boys that people bring. Is it possible for these unseen, subversive, "feel-goods" to stop us from reproducing ourselves? More often that we realize, I think. In what area of your ministry can you starve your ego and get someone of the bench and into the game?
#4 Empowerment necessitates close support and authentic community with other leaders.
The more successful you are the more demands come crashing in. The more successful you are the more people want time with you. If you're not careful the very heartbeat of leadership -influences others through relationships- gets short circuited through isolation. Sometimes we are just too tired to be close enough when it comes to empowering others. Where will the love that called you into the ministry need to be applied again? Who can you develop that would love to spend time with you?
So what do you do about these challenges?
I must continually do heart-building exercises to to keep my empowerment muscles in shape. In fact I create a work-out through questions that was published in a book I wrote with Aubrey Malphurs. I thought you might enjoy a free copy, as an opportunity to refresh your own commitment to empowering others. The summary chart above gives you an appetizer of the chapters content, questions and exercises.