One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that it’s usually the Senior Leadership Team of a church that is the ultimate lid to growth. Many of them don’t see it and most of them wouldn’t agree with what I’m saying, but it’s true. The Senior Leadership Team’s willingness to let go of authority and ministry decision-making, and truly empower and lead through others can make or break a church.
Early in our multisite journey at Sun Valley, we hadn’t developed the Campus Pastor role or team yet. So, like in most growing organizations, that meant double duty. I was serving as the Campus Pastor at our original location and serving as the Executive Pastor at the same time. I love leading teams and coaching church staff members, so it was really a fun season. But before long it became apparent that if I didn’t let go of leading the Lead Team at our original campus, I would become the lid to growth at Sun Valley. I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to provide the church what it needed. So, as much as I loved leading with that team, I had to let go and build a team of Campus Pastors to lead the campuses through the journey.
As we added more campuses and expanded our Executive Team, another point of tension came along. Again, I had to let go of leading a team that I loved leading. I had to let someone else lead the Campus Pastors so I could provide leadership to the Executive Team and Central Service Team at the church. I had to give up something I loved (leading with a great team of Campus Pastors) for something else that I loved even more: seeing the whole church continue to take ground and move forward.
Along the way, I also had to let go of teaching. For years I was on the Teaching Team at Sun Valley and taught about 20% of the time at our weekend worship services. I’m more of a leader that can communicate than I am a communicator that can lead, and we have some absolutely fantastic communicators on the team. For the church to grow, what was needed from me was more strategic leadership and less teaching. So, once again, I found myself letting go of something that I love for something else that I love even more.
This same scenario has played out in different ways over and over again the past 20 years of ministry. The secret of leadership that no one ever tells you is this: the higher you go in leadership, the more you lose. There’s no going up without giving up. But if you’re made for it, it’s worth it.
Every time I’ve given up my personal preference for what’s best for the church instead of what’s best for me, the church has grown. And every time I’ve been reluctant to do the same, the church has been held back. When I only focus on doing what I do best, the church takes ground and I find fulfillment. When I do what’s best for the church, not only does the church win, but I also win. When I don’t, I’m embarrassed to say it, but I hold the church back from everything Jesus has dreamed it to be.
And I imagine the same is true of you.