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Hand it Over!

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How to Grow Your Ministry by Working Yourself out of a Job

None of us like to think of the day when our current ministry will come to an end. We want to revel in today. We want to rejoice in the glory of the present. We want to grow our ministry strong and big and effective. And, if we’re being honest? We want to claim it as our own. 

It takes a strong, mature, forward-thinking church leader to envision the ministry’s future without us in it. And it requires even more strength and maturity to envision that future even bigger and better than we could ever craft it to be.

Thinking about the future and working intentionally toward a healthy, strong, effective ministry in the days ahead is one of the most successful ways to grow your church today. Where to start? With the leadership of the future. Creating leaders today that will propel the ministry forward tomorrow is key to maintaining the vision God has for the church and taking it to even greater heights. 

Church leaders can’t be afraid to work themselves out of a job! Doing so will grow the ministry to be larger, more effective for God’s Kingdom, and well-equipped for the day when it is time for a change at the helm.

How can church leaders do this most successfully?

1.     Recruit strong, gifted people. It might seem obvious that church leaders need to put strong, talented people in place for the future of the church. But sometimes, we are nervous about doing so because we are afraid of that strength or feel threatened by their talent and gifting. No, it’s just the opposite. Don’t be afraid. Don’t feel threatened. Tomorrow’s leaders bring strength and enormous abilities to bolster the ministry and make everything better for everyone involved. Church staff members will benefit, the congregation will benefit, and the community will benefit. The ministry will grow larger because of their contribution, and God’s Kingdom will grow as a result. Church leaders should surround themselves with the brightest and the best.

2.     Duplicate yourself. In your recruiting of strong, gifted people, be on the lookout for someone you can train to take your place as the leader. While this is an area that could feel threatening or even frightening, church leaders must think of the next generation of church leadership and recognize that the future is in their hands. Thus, the call to duplicate yourself! It doesn’t happen overnight, but spend a few years carefully training and mentoring a gifted younger leader, imparting vision, giving opportunities to lead, and transferring as much knowledge as possible and practical. Be intentional in this process, making sure this younger leader knows they are being prepared for future senior/executive leadership. Take your time, but also infuse the process with an urgency that creates importance.

3.     Hand things over to your new leaders. When you’re ready, gradually give those you mentor more responsibility. As you do this, watch the programs in the church grow! Watch as the younger, new leader(s) add their own “flair” to the programming and relationships with people. Watch as people are drawn to the church and drawn to the Savior because of this person’s work that you’ve spent so much time advising. Become a cheerleader and advocate for the new leader. Endorse their work. Refuse to criticize them or answer those who speak negatively of the change in leadership. Become as “hands-off” as practical and possible, giving the new leader freedom and autonomy in this new role. 

4.     Trust the new leadership and rejoice in their success. People in the church or in the ministry want to see you as the former leader supporting the church’s future vision and future leadership. They can perceive even the smallest amount of doubt, bitterness, or lack of support. Don’t let that happen! Be a champion for the next generation of leaders. Your unconditional support will be a catalyst to their success, effectiveness, and the church’s future growth. Not only will the church and the ministry overall grow, but the relationships in the church will become deeper and more meaningful as a result.

5.     Find your “second season” specialty. Just because you’ve handed that leadership role over to someone new doesn’t mean God is done with you! There is more ministry to do, more ministry to grow! Search your heart anew. Ask the Lord to show you what the “second season” of your life holds. What new ministry involvement can you have with the skills, abilities, and experience you’ve gained? You know how to build and grow a ministry. Now put those proficiencies to use in a fresh way. Find something meaningful that will glorify God, build His Kingdom, speak into the lives of a new generation, and point people to Jesus.

Ministry growth does not happen automatically. It must be chased after intentionally. Sometimes, that requires us as leaders to prepare for the next generation. Build up a good team of leaders for the future and watch the ministry grow to new heights for which we can all thank God.

Cary serves as ​ACS Technologies’ Vice President of Human Resources. He joined ACS Technologies in 2012 with more than 20 years of progressive and strategic Human Resources leadership experience from multinational corporations such as Roche Pharmaceuticals, Becton Dickinson, and Baxter Healthcare International. ​

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