Where Are The Leaders?

The concept of contrast is an important element to consider when we want to make things appear clear. I learned about this when I was in my teen years because I had a hobby and a small business that involved photography. The technology available at that time required using film to take the picture and a series of processes to develop the film and then print the pictures. There were no digital cameras available. Yes, it was that long ago.

The most affordable way to take and produce pictures was to do them in black and white. Color was available but it was complicated if you wanted to do things yourself, which of course I did. Once a nerd, always a nerd.

A very important concept for producing quality black and white images is getting the contrast between the darker and lighter objects right. Little did I know that an understanding of contrast would help me throughout my life. 

Being able to see the difference in both sides of an argument is one practical advantage of using contrast to your advantage. When issues are not always clear to many people, finding ways to contrast one issue with another can help clarify a lot of things.

One of the most important ways contrast has helped me is when I understand how to use it with my life experiences. A simple example is the contrast our family discovered when we lived in both central Mississippi and south Louisiana. We learned a lot about cultural differences because we had something to compare them to.

The other area where contrast has been very helpful for me is in understanding leadership. I have had the benefit of working in a business environment and in a ministry environment. Many things are similar but many are not. Experiencing one and then the other has helped me see things that may not be as obvious to others. 

Seeing different things has also caused me to seek to understand why there are differences. I routinely ask what has caused an apparent difference and should anything be done about the differences?

A specific area of leadership that has really been on my heart over the last year is what I like to refer to as the leadership pipeline. Think of it as the line of leaders that is in place and waiting to replace the current leaders we have.  In the business world, this is a very big deal. No business leader would survive for long if he or she did not make sure their organization had at least a good line of leader replacements. 

Most of CEOs are actually working on having a great line of replacement leaders. My observations of this item in the ministry world provides a noticeable contrast. If there are any replacements in line, usually the lines are very short, if they exist at all. 

As I consider some of the reasons for the short or nonexistent lines factors like the use of pastor search committees to select lead pastors, small church staffs and the important practice of depending on God to provide for His Church seem like legitimate contributing factors.

But I also believe it is important to consider the responsibilities God gives to His ministry leaders and our need to be good stewards of the resources God provides for His Church. When we are considering the quality of our ministry leadership pipeline, the questions we should be asking are:

  1. What would a good steward of Kingdom leadership resources do to provide and develop those resources?
  2. Does the complexity of the system of producing and identifying ministry leaders give us a valid excuse for not actively developing them?
  3. Does the fact that a church that develops its leaders well may not get any immediate benefits impact our stewardship decisions?
  4. If God’s Kingdom has a need for leaders and our churches work benefits the Kingdom, but not our church directly, how should we prioritize ministry leader development?

I can’t escape the conclusion that all ministry leaders will be held responsible for how they steward the ministry leadership resources they have the opportunity to work with. It clearly appears to me that we have a lot of work to do to become good stewards. - Johnny Ervin