Confident leaders recognize gifts and abilities in those around them; they coach and encourage them to bring out the best in them, and then they create space and commission them in their fields of expertise.
Look at this helpful video by Theo Burmeister speaking from experience about releasing members into service.
1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists [or Greeks] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
Observations and Reflection Questions
- Why were these seven deacons set aside and commissioned? [verse 1, 2]
- What were the required characteristics for these servants? [verse 3]
- Who was present when the members were commissioned for service? [verse 2]
- How were these men set aside for service? [verse 6]
- Why with laying on of hands?
- Why with prayer?
- Why publically?
Personal reflection and application
The first Apostles knew that some practical demands related to the expanding church were not their primary concern, and wisely opted to get other capable people to do that. Yet they sought for people that had a good reputation and were full of the Spirit and wisdom, and commissioned them publically.
- Consider your leadership style, especially with regards to decision making, task execution and training. How much space do you allow for people to grow beyond their primary tasks and responsibilities in the group?
- Consider your primary mandate in leadership.
- What are your core responsibility?
- What are responsibilities which keep you busy, but which you can entrust to someone else?
- Who in your small group/ department/task team have shown themselves faithful and competent to receive more responsibility?
- Which responsibilities can you entrust to whom? (sometimes including the group in these decisions is wise, as the Apostles did in the example above).
- Discuss these planned delegations with a mentor / overseer/ good Christian friend.
- Consider how you will commission these responsibilities to these members:
- Plan a frank discussion with each of these members – they must agree to accept these responsibilities.
- There must be formal public announcements to the group involved to allow for buy-in
- In church setup, the act of laying on hands and prayer, asking for God’s grace (empowerment) is necessary, even if the task is simply “waiting on widow’s tables”. (Why?)
Pray to God about your leadership style and those in your group. How can you make more space for others to grow, and whom can you entrust more responsibility to?