Dumb Things Leaders Do 07: Promoting the Broken Over the Brilliant

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I am the founder of a first generational church planting movement called the Tree of Life Family. We have in the last ten years planted eight churches and are about to plant another two. Before I started I assumed incorrectly my major hurdle would be raising the finances. That’s not true – the hardest and most challenging part of my job is raising leaders. The hardest part of pastoring is raising leaders, the hardest part of leading is raising more leaders and developing leaders. That is the truth.

And I see a huge mistake that many pastors make, and when I outline it I think some people will disagree with me, but I have the experience to know what I am talking about.

For any church or business to grow and be healthy, it is essential that the main leaders can relate to many different types of people, but they must focus their time on the potential leaders of the future, the brilliant people, not the broken people. Most leaders, across the board, spend most of their time with the broken people, and that creates a regressive church culture, exhausted the leaders and creates a bottle neck that blocks the whole organization from growing. You cannot focus on the squeaky wheels.

I know many pastors who have spend their lives investing in broken people – loving the hurting, accomodating the offended, investing in those with trauma and those who are the most immature. Often their wives are doing the same, and the truth is that women often feel the burden of this more than men.

When you are dealing with broken people, you have to spend time showing them their identity, showing them that their past is not their identity but their identity is found in the love of Christ and His redemptive work for them. That is what defines people. That is how you help broken people. But the problem is broken people do not invest time in themselves. They miss church Sunday to get you to call Monday, when you have preached a powerful message to help them ground themselves in Christ. If you chase them you will always be chasing them.

The problem is that broken people are many steps away from being leaders, but often assume they are further along than they are. They lack the leadersip and management skills to even manage themselves, so they cannot lead others. So you now have a church that lacks leaders, and attracts broken people.

But worse than that, the pastor who is investing his life in broken people is now running on fumes, exhausted, tired, frustrated, and not making much progress. They want help, but cannot disconnect from the broken long enough to invest their lives in the brilliant and promote the brilliant.

The whole church knows that pastor veers to the broken, so the church as a whole tends to brokenness, not brilliance and the whole culture is pulling backwards, not progressing. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see pastors make.

If you miss church Sunday, I will not respond to your emergency Monday. You created that emergency by refusing to be with the people of God worshipping, praising, listening to the Word, investing in people. You are broken, and I will invest in you as much as you invest in yourself, but what I must do is invest in the brilliant so we have other leaders who can help you.

I have told pastors to do the same, but they have a sense of compassion that sadly is not helpful, and it is not godly compassion rather human-basd pity, and it means that the church never develops.

Moses tried to lead this way, and invest in the broken, and his father-in-law Jethro showed him a better way (Exodus 18.13-27). You may be the chief shepherd like Moses, so your job is to reproduce shepherds not pour out your life unto death.

I love what Jethro says in verse 18, “You are not able to do it alone”. We are not able to do it alone – no leader can do it alone, raise up a team, find the brilliant people, invest in them and build a team – then you can definitely help more broken people.

The brilliant people Moses had to invest in were:

  • able (they were competent)
  • feared God (they had a good walk with God)
  • trustworthy (they had character)
  • hated a bribe (they had financial integrity)

Pastor, leader, I beseech you – invest in the people in your church with competence, character, capability, compatibility with your dream and financial integrity. They are brilliant people and you can raise them up to lead tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands – imagine how many more people you could feed then!

Broken people demand your time and you are going to have to say “No” to them so you have your time and energy to invest in the brilliant people. They won’t come and demand your time, they are nice people who respect you are busy, you will have to make time for them and invest in them. If you think because they are ok and brilliant you can just leave them alone, you are making a huge mistake that will cripple and stifle your church growth and development so much.

Making this change is not easy, you have to discipline yourself, you have to do things deliberately, but it is essential you make this change – so much matters on this!

John Maxwell says the worst leaders are those who are full of mercy, because they find it hard to say no to someone, to hurt someone, to offend someone, to cause conflict. One of the keys to leadership is if you are naturally merciful, is be so careful who you spend time with and why. Be in charge of who you spend time with and do not be afraid to put rules on broken people like:

  • If you don’t come Sunday, I will not call you Monday
  • If you do not do the homework I set, I will not visit you again until you do

These sort of principles will change your life and enable you to invest and promote the brilliant. You have two choices – do it all yourself and limit your life to your strength, your time and your capacity, or invest in the brilliant and with a team do things you could never do on your own.

You are not that good to do it alone, you are not the Lone Ranger, you are not capable of fulfilling your destiny with no one raised up. Start investing in brilliant people. Find the right people and work with them!

Choose to invest your time in the brilliant. There are a lot of broken people in your church, people who grew up without a father, people who have been hurt and abused, but running around trying to help them all will not change the maximum number of lives. It will also burn you out. A lot of pastors quit – but if you invest in the brilliant, you will avoid burn out and have a team that supports you.

Jesus had his disciples, they were not perfect, but they were capable and they were always listening, learning and developing. They did not skip out and miss the Sermon on the Mount because they are offended. They got over things and walked forward. They were a team and that ultimately made the ministry a joy not a burden.

Don’t promote too quickly, interview again and again, if in doubt, leave it until another day, do not get conned by fast talkers and nice people. We must have the right people on the bus, and in the right seats. This takes time, and you need to learn this skill.


Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at www.tree.church, www.tree.church/youtube and www.tree.church/app.

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