No. I should end my article there. But I guess there’s more to say.
As leaders in ministry, we sometimes find ourselves in the pilot sit for many tasks, projects, and ministries. That’s okay. I actually would venture to say that is probably a good thing.
A good leader knows that there are times when it is important to be a follower and not the leader. Just because you and I have a natural bent for leading doesn’t mean that we need to always be in that role.
In fact, most of us have someone supervising and managing us. That is a clear time when it is important to follow. There are 5 other types of common situations where it is okay to be a follower:
When you are not the expert.
I’m not that smart. That’s the understatement of the year, but it’s true. If someone comes into the picture that is more knowledgeable about a ministry, then that is a good time to submit to his or her leadership. Knowledge is power. That knowledge can often lend others the advantage of being a more effective leader in that specific situation.
When someone has the gifts and talents to do the job better than you.
Marcus Buckingham and Tom Rath, two people who have written a lot about strengths, would be the first to tell you and me that we are only really good at a few things. Everything else, we suck at! It’s important to recognize when someone has the gifts and talents to lead better than you. That’s okay. Know your strengths and know the strengths of others. When we are aware of our strengths, we are more able to recognize when it is a good fit to lead and when it is a goof fit to follow. I highly recommend the Strength Finder’s tool as one of the more valuable resources for developing your leadership and the leadership of others.
When you don’t have the time.
Ministry can be very busy. Don’t say yes to lead something if you don’t have the time. (Come on! We’ve all done it.) Be honest and let people know that you don’t have the time. Sometimes this means that the project may not get done because no one else steps up. So be it. If you don’t have time due to other priorities and no one else wants to take a lead, maybe it’s not that important. If others make you feel guilty for that, ignore it. Guilt is not helpful in ministry.
When whatever you are being asked to lead is not one of your priorities.
There are so many great things we could be doing in ministry. The list of what can be done never ends. That does not mean that everything needs to be done. We have to prioritize our ministry. When another opportunity comes into the picture, we have to weigh that opportunity with all the other priorities we have. If it does not rise to the top, allow someone else to take the lead.
When you are training and empowering someone to take a lead.
Good leadership requires us to equip others to do the job. Once you have trained someone and they are capable of taking on the leadership role, that is the time to allow him or her to step up while you step down. They are ready to lead! Let go of that role and submit to their leadership.
I find it quite freeing when I get to be involved in a ministry where I am not the main leader. Submitting to the leadership of others requires humility and a positive attitude. Sometimes, submitting to the leadership of others is the best way to be a servant leader.
Name a time when you purposely decided to follow someone else’s lead.