The first key to biblical leadership is Knowing Who You Are. If you have not read this article yet, I highly recommend taking a couple minutes to read it since each key will build upon the previous one. Have you read 5 Keys to Biblical Leadership, Key 1: Vision?
The second key to Biblical Leadership is EMPOWERMENT.
After finding vision and direction, a leader must take others with him. Bringing people from point A to point B is the primary focus of all leaders, but to get people moving, two things must happen.
- He must tell others where he is going, and invite them on the journey
- They must say YES to that call
Jesus illustrated this principle in Matthew 22:14 when He said that ever so frustrating line, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” If you are anything like me, you have gone crazy trying to figure this one out. It wasn’t until I heard this sermon by Banning Liebscher of Jesus Culture earlier in the week that I fully understood what this verse was saying. Jesus has called EVERYBODY into His lifestyle of the supernatural because God so loved the WORLD. He called the entire world into His reality of heaven, yet He doesn’t force us to live in that realm. The second part of the equation that fully empowers us to live a supernatural life is that we have to say YES to His invitation.
As leaders, we must recognize that we cannot carry out our vision alone, and if we can, our vision is too small. We must give others the opportunity to say YES to an invitation towards greatness, not become offended if they turn that invitation down (It is okay to say, “NO”). But great leadership does not stop there. What separates poor leaders from great leaders is the ability to recognize the skill sets of others and empower them in fields of THEIR strengths. The best leaders are able to put the best people doing the things they are best at, while serving the needs of the vision. Incredible pottery skills are useless behind a hammer.
When speaking of empowerment, I have noticed a common misunderstanding among many leaders I have worked with between the ideas of empowerment and delegation.
Delegation assigns responsibility based on ABILITY, and is task oriented
Empowerment assigns responsibility based on POTENTIAL, and is goal oriented
Where delegation mainly focuses on “to-do” lists, Empowerment focuses on set goals. Empowerment takes a secure leader to manage it effectively, since it gives away responsibility and power. Empowerment requires that the leader relinquish control of projects, entrusting all responsibility to someone else. These leaders are risk-takers. Jesus modeled this by empowering the 12 disciples (and subsequently you and me) to do the works He did (Matthew 10). Surely the disciples were unaware that they were capable of such miraculous displays, yet Jesus saw something in them they did not see in themselves. He gave the disciples responsibility designed to draw out their full potential. THAT IS EMPOWERMENT! Jesus identified the goals He wanted the disciples to meet, but he also told them that sometimes they would not meet the goals. He gave them instruction for navigating obstacles of rejection and failure, and equipped them with the tools they would need to keep going after negative experiences. By doing this, Jesus released His disciples from the shame of failing before they even started. He presented a seemingly impossible challenge, but met that with instructions of how to do it well.
By empowering others, a leader is not only giving another the opportunity to succeed, but they are fully trusting that person in failure as well. It is impossible to empower someone unless you can trust him or her to make a mistake. Theodore Roosevelt once said,
The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it[i]
As leaders, we must be willing to allow others the freedom to fall. We must recognize that mistakes will be made ahead of time, but then do our best to free those we empower from the fear of making one. We must be willing to allow others to succeed, but we should not get mad if they do not. Instead, great leaders take the opportunity to dust off, coach, and encourage the individual to get back on the horse.
Jesus was a man of empowerment. Every miracle He performed, every sermon He preached, and every lesson taught breathed His vision of inviting all the world into the same relationship with Heaven that He was experiencing. The greatest display of empowerment came when Jesus walked out His vision all the way to Calvary. By becoming sin on the cross, He took on all wrath, judgment, and punishment from God, freeing all people to walk in a family position with God as Father, making the impossible possible as His people began to reclaim dominion over the earth. He was not afraid of loosing what He had because He recognized that the more He gave away, the more He received. We also see this principle demonstrated in Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
By freeing man from the judgments of sin, Jesus empowered creation to follow the impossible call of bringing Heaven to Earth. YOU ARE CALLED TO GREATNESS The question is, will you say YES to that calling to do the unimaginable with Him?
As you continue your leadership journey, begin looking for ways to bring others with you. Commit yourself to look for the potential in others and use empowerment as a tool to bring that potential out of them. Give others the opportunity YES!
Last week you were asked to think about the things that fulfill you. I would love to hear about what those things are in the comment section.
This week, I want you to identify 3 people you can invite along with you on your journey towards that thing that fulfills you. Think of their desires, and empower them in ways that further your mission, but also helps them see the potential within themselves.
I would love to hear your thoughts about today’s topic. What do you agree with? Any disagreements or critiques? Leave responses in the comment section
[i] Maxwell, John (2009). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Ed). Nashville, TN: Tyndale House.