Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I believed for a long time that “success without a successor is no success at all”.  I repeated it.  I wrestled with it.  I evaluated myself by it.  It just plain sounded right.  Like, if you can’t pass on your skill set or talents or mission or vision or whatever onto anyone else, then you’re simply a flash in the pan.  And that’s not a success- at least not as I defined it.  It seemed in my mind that the truly great leaders were those that took organizations from dying to thriving… or at least from good to Great!

Well, not really. Or at least I don’t think so anymore.  
Here’s why:  
  • I think it takes some leadership to revive a nearly dead thing that was once amazing.
  • I think it takes a much higher leadership quotient to take what is going good and declare it done.  
Anybody can say, “we were once good, and we can get there again.”  In the Biblical world, it’s the ease of Nehemiah’s message.  No shot at his incredible leadership or sacrifices he made along the way.  Just saying that it was an easy sell at first.  “Jerusalem used to be beautiful and amazing.  It’s a mess.  We can fix it.  Let’s go do it.”  People emotionally and spiritually want this to be true.  We are easily nostalgic about the good times in the past, so people will join in recreating what could and should be true again. 
That’s all well and good, but very few have the leadership wisdom to say, “Jerusalem is a mess.  I remember when it was awesome and it was so good.  Let’s leave it alone, celebrate it for what it was, and go do something else somewhere else.”  It’s even harder yet to say “Jerusalem is awesome, I love it and we love it, but it’s time to close up the gates and go tackle Samaria.”  
So, I think one of the hardest questions that a leader must ask is, “Has ___________ run it’s course?”  It’s super hard to not let that sound negative.  I bet it even feels negative to you as you read it.  
But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be.  We can celebrate something that is good and actually sacrifice it for the better.  It doesn’t have to go from good to great.  It can go from great for a season to not great for today and not be declared a failure.  Instead of riding a good thing into the ground, we can choose to do another good thing in it’s place and celebrate both things as God’s call for a season.  
In the context of student ministry it sounds like these kinds of questions:
  • Is this room we spent thousands of dollars creating still the best place for us to do ministry to students?
  • Is this program we know and love actually at it’s peak?  Is it time to bring about radical change to a good thing? 
  • Is the camp we’ve always done still serving our ministry at maximum level?
  • Do we have the right staff and volunteers for the thing God is calling us to be today? 
I pray I have the leadership guts to not just take the good or dying and make them amazing, but to actually look at the effective with the same critical eye and ask, “Is this still what God is calling us to do today?”

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