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Prime Time Absence

Leadership / Leadership //


If you serve in ministry, you know that (typically) Sunday mornings are prime time. It’s Sunday mornings that everyone gets to see and it’s the time that reflects on you – how well are you leading.

I’ve missed the last two Sundays.

That’s not really a bad thing. Taking a step back on Sundays allow your team to shine, know that they are capable, and it gives you a chance to know where you are weak.

The first Sunday I missed was due to a conference. While I was there, my friend Christiaanmentioned that he wasn’t sure that anyone would even know he was gone. On the flip side, I saw dozens of people checking messages, sending texts, and otherwise responding to something happening miles away.

If being away for a Sunday scares you, I’d like to encourage you to focus on two areas:

Delegating Authority
Christiaan had trusted people in place that not only had responsibilities but had authority. Others didn’t. This is an assumption on my part since I didn’t talk with anyone about this – but it’s an assumption based on knowing how healthy systems work.

When a leader delegates responsibility rather than responsibility, they’re still the go to person. This seems like a good thing if you’re worried about job security, but what really happens is that you weaken your leadership and your kingdom work because you’ve made yourself the center.

After the conference I went on vacation that lasted through another Sunday. The first Sunday I’ll admit, I was a little anxious and I did get two text messages. One was question about how much responsibility someone had assumed and another in response to a thank you that I had sent. The next Sunday I didn’t get any – nor did I think that I would.

Team of Teams
If you are a key leader, not only is it vital to delegate authority, but it is important that your leading a team of teams rather than just a team. Even though I am the Children’s Pastor, I am not the key leader for the Nursery nor am I the key leader for our mid-week club. In fact, I don’t want to be the key leader for any of the programs I have in place. I’d rather lead the people that lead those teams. So should you – lead the leaders, it will increase your influence and help your programs to run better.

In a church environment, this can seem very natural because teams can overlap allowing a person to connect to more than one team, the hierarchies can look different on each team, and can be self organizing. This is a more resilient way of leading because you remove the “single point of failure” (you).

However, there are challenges: Because people can serve on multiple teams with multiple hierarchies there may be a competition for peoples times, conflicting objectives, and lack of leadership clarity. However, if you set yourself up as the leader of a team of teams with this in mind, you can focus on communication. A key challenge in this model is for teams to know what is happening on other teams in other places in your organization. If you focus on removing this challenge you’ll open the doors for people to share volunteers, information and work without you being in the center.

Next year, enjoy your vacation!

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About the Author

Jesse and his wife, Teri, will celebrate 20 years of marriage in May of 2012 and are raising two growing sons, Kevin and Alex. After moving from the DC metro area in 2008 they adopted a mastiff named Book and slobber became a way of life. In his spare time, you may find Jesse enjoying photography, biking, or simply watching a movie or reading. Jesse is a graduate of Cohort K from Bethel Seminary’s CFM program and serves as the Children and Family Pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Wauconda.