I once heard Dave Ramsey say, “It is easier and more fun to oversee teams than it is to oversee individuals.” I incorporated that statement into a personal missions statement I made while on a personal advance in Washington State last summer. In it, I said that I wanted to be leading leaders, and overseeing teams, not just “maintaining systems” by myself.
Transitioning from an “I do everything model” in church life specifically, which works fine when you’re talented and swim in a small fish bowl, to a team model, requires a great deal of delegation. And the nature of the tasks, which stem from a core belief that everything needs to be done with excellence, requires that those you are delegating work to be trained sufficiently. As a result, I find myself in the midst of a tremendous personal shift. Here are two major revelations I’ve had along the way (with more to follow in the coming months, I’m quite sure):
1.) The Collective Has Better Ideas Than The Individual: I am a very creative guy. And I’m comfortable saying that. It’s not a point of pride, but of consistency over time. But when placed in a group of creative people, my ideas are mere starting points for others to launch from, thus producing end results that I never could have come up with on my own. There is a certain amount of “loss of ownership” that I had to deal with; but when put in the perspective that no idea is more original than God’s, and that we are to adopt a Kingdom mindset, releasing ownership gives birth to unlimited possibilities. It’s interesting that they very same emotion a creative person feels when they are “in control” of their projects–freedom–actually increase exponentially when they release them into the hands of others.
2.) Train As You Go: As my wife pointed out recently, when I’m confronted with the option of giving a task to a team member under me, I very often don’t. I reason, A.) in the time it will take me to teach them how to do it, I can do it five times over, and B.) my years of experience tell me I can do it better. But both arguments, while predominantly true, reduce the potential for growth in ministry exponentially. The easiest answer, of course, would be to hire qualified people. But in church life, that is most often not an option, because limited budgets do not allow you to obtain the level of expertise you need. Imparting your skills and talent over time becomes the only solution if you are serious about growing. And this, of course, takes time, discipline, and patience. But in the end, the team becomes the key component to productivity, not you as the individual. I’m right smack dab in the middle of instituting this principle, and setting up the infrastructure to facilitate it. ch: