In 2004, I got pregnant with our 1st child, Sydney. I was working full-time at NorthStar Church as the Programming Director and had grown with that ministry since it's first few months of existence in 1996-97. By then, I had been blessed with a great volunteer team of worship leaders (2 of the 6 were paid - I was one of them) and a great staff (part-time media director and a full-time administrator). But the true test was coming. I would take my maternity leave and I really didn't know how this was going to go with being gone for 6-8 weeks and then moving back into that role as a new mom. I prepared my team, delegated, planned, and then Sydney came 4 weeks earlier than she was due. I will never forget what a volunteer in my ministry told me when I returned. "Have you really been gone for six weeks? I don't want to hurt your feelings, Cynthia, but it didn't even seem like you were gone." It was the greatest complement that I could have ever received as a leader. In the early days of church planting, there is a lot YOU have to do. It has taken me two years with this church plant to be ready to hand off big things with a qualified team. I handed off a huge programming piece to my programming leadership team last week. What exactly? Every aspect of the programming elements of our student program on Wednesday nights called VIBE . Todd came home last night and said, (because he knows it makes me feel good) "Your team did great. You weren't even missed." I'm just a musician in the band on Wednesdays now (as needed). You may be thinking., "I don't know where to start to give leadership away?" Here are some thoughts that have worked for me. If you are not a leader who likes other people being able to do your job, you should stop reading this now.
1. Everything in your job could be done by someone else. If you are the only one that can do your job at your organization, you are crippling the future of your ministry and the overall organization.
2. There is a HUGE difference between empowering a leader and abandoning a leader. Empowering means that you walk the ropes with them. You do it together for awhile. You discuss the 40,000 foot view of why, how, when, and where of all of it. You give them the opportunity to do it with you, but you are still there. You let them ask every dumb question. You are patient. You let them make choices different than what you would have done and you stand by their choices. Abandoning a leader? well, it's the opposite of everything I just mentioned.
3. Affirm, affirm, affirm. They need to know that you approve. Debrief after big things. Ask them how they felt it went. What went well? What didn't go well? What do they need from me moving forward? Are you having a good time?
4. Be ready when they quit or can't do the job. Not every leader is able to rise to the occasion after the baton has been passed. It's ok. Love them through it and help them refocus. They feel worse about it than you could ever imagine.
5. Other people won't like it that you are not leading everything. Every time I hand off something to a another team or leader, people assume something is wrong. I've had perfectly wonderful church members tell me that they didn't give their tithe money to hear "other people" sing. They came to hear me. Yeah, I had to count to 10 to respond to that one.
None of this is possible if you as a leader are so consumed in the fact that you have earned the right to do this. I take what I do very seriously, but I know that it is God's grace that I have the privilege to be leading anything. Great leaders in my life (who were probably a little crazy) thought it was worth their time and frustration to let a 13-year-old lead a vocal group, a 19-year-old lead a entire rhythm section, and a 26-year-old lead an entire Worship Ministry at a church of 1500 people. Working myself out of my job is my goal. I love being a part of a team and giving away opportunity to others so they can do things they never dreamed they could do. So tell me you don't miss me when I'm not around...that makes me really happy.