leadership traction

October 17, 2005 | 3 Comments

With Pathways moving into high gear, it is good to have some leadership traction again. Ministry is slowly moving back into a tangible piece of life after having been mostly practiced in theory for most of the last year. I’m finding that leadership in a new church presents new challenges. Among some of the thoughts I’ve been sorting through:

  • How do you give ownership without giving leadership? Is this even doable? One of the most common things I’ve heard from church planters is that you need to be very careful about giving people leadership too early in a new church. Differing agendas can create a lot of pain in a young church, so those in leadership need to be of a similar heart and vision. On the other hand, giving away ownership is essential for having people be invested in the community. Where is this balance between giving ownership and leadership?
  • How do you lead those who understand something better than you? Up until now, I’ve worked in a large church and had the benefit of leading in an area where I was well trained and passionate. This is a but a fleeting fantasy in a new church. One of my areas is to put our children’s classes in place, in which I have very little training and no specific experience. Among the team of people we have so far, there are 4-5 people with degrees in elementary education or child development, and others with lots of great experience working with children. It is a whole new challenge to navigate in and out of my own competency and ignorance as I work with this team.
  • Leadership resentment. This is a side of leadership that I have experienced myself and seen in others at times. I think it is common, though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it addressed in a leadership book or training. There is always a conflict within the leader when they feel like people aren’t as sold out to something as they are. It can build into a resentment. In myself at least, I think this is primarily my own selfishness manifesting itself. Healthy leadership would have me walking alongside people and understanding where they are at rather than resenting their lack of commitment. I honestly haven’t felt this very much as we have some wonderful people already, but I’m trying to be aware of it. I imagine that in a situation like a church plant where you are more sold out than ever before, this potential for this being a major internal issue is high.
  • Leadership certainly is an ugly ugly thing. Your question of ‘how do you give ownership without giving leadership’ is tricky. Part of me wants to say that ownership should preface leadership and so by becoming a leader it is owning up to the ownership that already exists. However, this risk in this is ‘entitlement.’ Whenever ownership is felt, or even discussed it can breed entitlement. Entitlement can turn things ugly pretty quickly. As people start to own up to their ownership the statements that can easily be made are along the lines of “how dare you” or “it is my right as part of this community.” Ownership at times can be the exact opposite of being in a state of graciousness.


  • Joel,
    This is why I blog — for insights like this. The connection between ownership and entitlement is very real, and something I’ve never considered before. I’m not inclined to dismiss the value of ownership however. As is see it, ownership can be corrupted in a me-centered consumeristic culture, and this profaned form of ownership becomes entitlement.

  • Ahh, I see you used the new word “profane.” Nice work.

    I’m glad my words could be of some use 🙂

    If you ever wanna talk leadership in person I’m game…it’s one of my favorite ideas to talk about and the hardest thing to do well