Is it possible that the dream team we wished we had was right in front of us? Part of our calling, as leaders, is not simply to call people to do, or worse, do it all ourselves. Instead, we need to recruit, empower, and release people.
This is a huge topic, so for the sake of brevity, here are some ideas to hopefully spur on some inspiration for you. To hear a deeper conversation on this very topic, check out this podcast I did with ProChurchTools.com and my previous article on the topic.
We, much too often, never find the team we wish we had because we don’t ask. This means going up and ‘giving the ask’ to the people who are passionate, willing, and able to start walking on mission with us.
Maybe you feel guilty to ask people to help. Let me let you in on a little secret: people are waiting to be asked and many have the gifts and passions to fill the dream team you wish to create. Even the things we hate to do, someone is wired to love it. We simply need to ask and connect those dots. For some of us, it isn’t that we are not asking, but we need to ask better questions. People need to know they are needed, that they are gifted, and that you value their time. Start with them as a person, their dreams, their passion and dig deep. I know this is possible because I recruited 60 volunteers in 4 months by getting out there and asking people.
For some of us, it is the fear of sharing. Let me ask a hard question: What would happen if you found people who could surpass you in your role? Would you be willing to take the risk to build that kind of team? A big step in all this is we cannot view ourselves to be the expert, solo person who does everything. We need to move towards the idea of being the leader who gathers the experts and empower them to excel in their passions and giftings and in many of ways become a slingshot for people to succeed.
Secondly, we need to empower the people we have recruited by both matching their passion with what we are calling them to and also equipping them with the tools to accomplish the role and be successful in it.
It is in this stage that we find ourselves investing into people and building them up. This involves modelling for them what it looks like, equipping them with the tools to succeed, and empowering them by drawing out of them their abilities, gifts, and strengths. This of course looks different for each person and every role we are calling them into, but ultimately our role should be focused on growing the person over and above the role we are calling them to. If our main focus is filling a need instead of the person who is filling that need, we will not only fall short but miss the opportunity to do the greater work of mentoring and discipling someone and moving towards the mission together.
This stage is such a crucial step, because it is the bridge point of going from simply finding people to being able to resource and release those people to do what they are passionate and gifted for. In turn, we become free to do what no one else can do. Too often when we have recruited enough people we stop short as though we feel our job as leaders is done, this couldn’t be further from the truth! People need to be empowered! This involves developing their gifts while also equipping them with the tools to accomplish the vision and mission you are inviting them into.
Maybe you think you don’t have the time to invest in people or a team for that matter. The reality is if you want to see your ministry or mission grow and you don’t want to be doing this solo forever, you don’t have the time not to. If you hope that your dream team will simply happen, you may find yourself becoming very disappointed.
But let’s address this concern more closely. Maybe you are in a season where you don’t have a lot of free time and adding more to your plate means taking away from things like your family. This can be a very hard place to be in. Let’s say for argument sake that this isn’t due to a time management issue, then it could be possible your next step is to find some team members who understand your situation and wish to carry the burden with you. Some people don’t need a lot of maintenance and being on mission with you could be the major investment they need. Many times, the problem we face is we are waiting for the ideal time to invite people into the mission and that time never comes.
Ultimately, if we never get to this stage and work through it, we will never find ourselves in the place we truly wish to be; having a team we can rely on and release them to do what they do best. Investing in people takes time and effort, but from my experience, that time and effort is never a wasted investment.
This leads us to releasing people to do what they are gifted to do and what you ultimately hope they can do. Of course, this last step is the biggest step of trust and requires letting go. Letting go of control, letting go of people, and letting go of jobs you love to do.
In a lot of ways, this whole process is about working yourself out of a job. What I mean by that is that as you slowly give things away for others to take on and you have equipped and empowered them to do so, you will find yourself slowly not being as needed as you once were in the tasks you had before. Sometimes this means giving away the stuff we were once good at or even love so we can focus on leading a team.
This can be extremely hard to do, because this means sharing the enjoyment of the vision and mission, giving away the things we once loved to do and sharing the glory. This involves a lot of self-awareness and being willing to shift into the background, being the cheerleader of the people you are building up and realizing you don’t always need to be the expert in the room, but your role is gathering a team of experts into one room and getting them to march together in a unified direction.
This will only happen if we have recruited the right people, empowered them to succeed, but also release them to do what the mission and vision called them to. If all we do is give people tasks and not also responsibility and authority, we will rarely see investment from those people.
Lather, wash, rinse, repeat! This is the beauty of this whole process; it is repeatable. We see a pattern and cycle in all things. This might look like you starting with another wave of leaders, building into them to build up your team further. Or possibly you have worked yourself out of a position and now you are building another area of your department or even a whole new area of the organization. Or something that is even cooler is when you find yourself watching the leaders you have recruited, empowered, and released doing the same thing with other people. This is the process of raising up leaders who raise up leaders who raise up leaders. This is the core of what we see in mentorship, discipleship, and apprenticeship, (or whatever else you wish to call it). It is building into people, multiplying yourself, and seeing others grow into the leaders they are meant to be.
Recruiting, empowering and releasing is a delicate balance of allowing people autonomy with the support of empowerment and equipping. It is all about finding a balance between creative freedom and quality control. This is what it means to empower people through equipping them with the tools, confidence, and maturity to become the people we can release.This involves both trust and competence. You need the right people on your team—both chemistry and gifting—and this also involves trusting people to accomplish what is asked of them and assuming they can succeed. If you are worried that people will take the role off the rails, then the answer to this is equipping. Give clear instructions on the overall vision of the ministry (or task at hand) with the end goal in mind and intentionally build into them, but give loads of freedom in how they get there.
The biggest challenge in this is just to get yourself started on the path of recruiting, empowering, and releasing. Don’t let this just stay as a theory, put it into practice. Start by making a list of people who you could take on this journey. Make the ask and begin the process of empowering until they can be released.
Drake currently serves as the Editor-In-Chief of boldcupofcoffee.com and the Executive Pastor at gateway.ac as well as an avid speaker, writer and leadership coach/consultant. Drake is passionate about seeing people thrive and come alive. To BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVE and BECOME people FULL OF LOVE, FUELLED BY FAITH, and ADDICTED TO HOPE. Drake is also a life learner and loves being challenged to think deeper and grow further. One of his favorite things to do is spend a good amount of time in a good café or coffee shop with a good book or engaging conversation. To be able to share in someone else's journey and experience is always a pleasure and honor. You can also connect with him at your personal page at drakedelongfarmer.com. To read more articles by Drake, simply click here.
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