A leader is not someone who focuses on doing all the work themselves. A leader develops and equips other members of the team to do the work. And when an equipping leader moves on, the work continues because others have been trained, equipped and promoted.
Working definition of this leadership concept:
To equip others is to train, coach and delegate responsibility to other people. (Leaders who are doing all the work themselves are not really leading.) To lead is to raise up and empower others.
Benefits for leaders who equip others:
1.Equipping others increases the leader’s area of influence.
2.Equipping others increases a leader’s influence generationally. This is how Christianity has survived and prospered for over 2000 years. Christians disciple and train other Christians in the life and practices of the faith.
3.Investing in others is satisfying work that lasts beyond reaching a goal. People are a good investment.
Benefits for the community where the leader leads:
1.Equipping others releases people to do the good work God prepared in advance for them to do (See Ephesians 2:10).
2.Equipping others highlights that the work is about what God is doing, not what one superstar person is doing.
3.Equipping others contributes to the collaborating, cooperating, contributing picture of the Kingdom of God… like a body (See Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12).
Biblical inspiration and support:
Let’s start by looking at how the apostle Paul speaks about the importance of unity. He uses the picture of a body to describe the community of Christians.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:1–16 ESV).
Let’s take a closer look at this passage by working backwards.
What is the purpose? What is the vision or goal? For the body to be built up in love and grow up into maturity, into the head who is Christ. For the community to attain unity in both the Christian faith and in knowledge of the Son of God and to not be vulnerable to deception.
How does that happen? Each part of the body, is working properly and is doing the work of ministry, building up the Christian community.
How does that happen? The leaders equip the Christian people.
It is interesting to note that Paul does not say there are a few gifted and energetic people who will build up the body of Christ while the rest of the people watch or drift away. No, it seems from this passage that God has given some to be equippers and everyone else to be equipped. Every Christian has a vital role, each has ministry to do—which are really acts of service—to do in the Christian community. No role is superior to another. We all work to build up God’s people, to build up the Christian community with our integrity, humility, gentleness, patience and love according to the grace God’s given us. Leaders, as those who develop team members, equip others for the work.
Practical application ideas:
You might consider logging your time this week and seeing how much time you invest in equipping others versus how much time you spend doing the work yourself. Pray and reflect on if that ratio needs to change.
What could be delegated?
Think through your daily/weekly/monthly tasks. Which of these tasks could someone else on the team do 80% as well as you (or even better than you)? Consider training a team member to take on those tasks.
Listen to an audio book on delegating. (Or read one if you prefer.)
I had a coach who encouraged me to invest time and energy in developing the skill of delegating. Just because we find ourselves in a leadership role does not mean that we have developed the skill of identifying responsibilities to delegate, training others to take on those responsibilities, and handing off those tasks effectively while maintaining a reasonable amount of oversight and accountability. Consider investing in learning how to delegate so you are ready to develop and promote team members.
Take half a day away from regular responsibilities to brainstorm what equipping needs your team has. Have some fun and dream, brainstorming what training would help each person who reports to you grow to reach the next level. Take some time to consider which are the most critical needs and how you could begin providing the needed training. Who could you collaborate with to provide what your team needs?
A parting word on equipping others:
Equipping Leaders multiply their influence and glorify God.
Who can you thank for investing time to equip you?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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