Almost all of my most significant leadership experiences were learned in the school of everyday life. I’ve grown playing sports as a kid, being on the job in the army, and driving around Chicago with my mentors.
I’m not knocking classrooms and conferences; I’m a seminary grad. It’s just that the most significant, transformative leadership lessons I’ve had happened just spending time with my mentor, Steve Nicholson, pastor of the Evanston Vineyard Church. He always talks about “never doing ministry alone,” and he practices what he preaches.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you agree that we need all the healthy, reproducing leaders we can get. Perhaps you’re a church planter and in order to take the next step for growth, you need to multiply more small group leaders or replace yourself in leading a ministry that you helped launch. Perhaps you’re a seasoned senior pastor looking ahead and beginning to plan for a future transition. Maybe you’d like to raise up more leaders so that you can recover a healthy rhythm in your personal life. All of these situations involve developing leaders and could be helped by never doing ministry alone.
You’re probably familiar with how Jesus spent time with the twelve, calling them out from the larger community of disciples (Mark 3, Luke 6). Jesus spent additional time with Peter, James, and John, sharing even more of his ministry with them (Mark 5). Barnabas sought out Paul for relationship and mentoring and looked for opportunities to spend time with him (Acts 11). Even Moses had a need for more leaders. When Jethro, his father-in-law, came for a visit, he counseled Moses to raise up leaders and delegate ministry. Jethro indicated this would be helpful and healthy for both the Israelites and Moses (Exodus 18).
When we spend time with the leaders we are developing, we are multiplying our effort, sharing the load, and passing along learning. Never doing ministry alone means that we are embodying a maxim that most of us know to be true: the best things in life are caught more than taught.
It takes intentional thoughtfulness and effort to never do ministry alone. It might even take a little bit of budget to bring someone with you from time to time, but it can help you raise up leaders like Steve and countless others like him have done.
Commit to never going anywhere alone.
Whenever practical, bring someone with you. I’ve recently recommitted myself to this and started by bringing a key ministry leader with me to the Vineyard’s Breaking the 200 Barrier Summit.
Who can you bring to your next small group leaders training or your next area pastors meeting? Bring new leaders to your regional leaders’ gatherings or help make sure your leaders and their families come to the Vineyard National Conference.
Ride more than drive
It’s tempting to drive yourself places you’re going for ministry like hospital visits or preaching gigs. Don’t drive. Ride. Invite someone along and ask them to drive. I can’t tell you how many times I drove Steve around Chicago and had my leadership expanded and life changed in the process.
Invite people in
Bring people into rooms they wouldn’t normally be invited into. I think this is the hardest one and also the most transformative. I’ve sat in on many conversations as a plus one, listening in as influencers further along than I processed challenges and discussed vision and plans.
Later on, in the car or hotel room, I’d often reflect on what I’d heard and ask questions. Sometimes I might even share in the moment because I felt like I had been given permission to share if I had something thoughtful to contribute. All of this stretched me as a leader.
So, what’s your next opportunity to not do ministry alone? Who is God highlighting to spend more time with and what could you invite them into? I promise it could change their life!
Jim Pool is the Lead Pastor of the Renaissance Vineyard Church, which he and his wife, Megan planted on the north side of Detroit. He also serves on the Vineyard Missions Leadership Team as Regional Coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa. He has also been the sending pastor for the Almont Vineyard and The Mission, both churches in suburban Detroit.
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