Sometimes when I preach, teach, mentor or help someone, I have to let them see me and how I faced a similar problem. It reminds me of the old Western movies, where both cowboys are hiding behind cover, and eventually one of them comes out of cover and gets shot. If I show you that I am human, that I have developed, learned, made mistakes, have been inconsistent, I come out of cover and I can get shot down. Recently, I told my Dagenham congregation I struggled for a long time with weeping with those who weep when the people weeping in my mind deserved to weep for the way they behaved, that the words “I told you so” would too readily come out of my mouth! I was being open, and although that made me vulnerable, it helped a lot of people grow the way I did when I admitted I had a process of growth too.
One of the reasons there is a lack of leadership in the body of Christ is we have not understood how to be open with one another, and been brave enough to let people get close enough to see who we truly are. If we do not let someone close enough to see how we don’t always get it right, we will never let someone close enough for them to see us do the job right. In other words, we will never be a model to anyone if we lack the character to let them get close enough to us to make ourselves vulnerable.
To raise leaders we must let people get close enough to see us model leadership. To watch us do the job, do it will, do it right, do it consistently – and get up again if we do it wrong. If we are not a model, we cannot be a mentor. We can have all the experience, all the wisdom, all the vision, all the stuff – but if no one is close enough to us to see that, it doesn’t work, and you are not raising leaders.
And the big barrier to that is you have to come out from under cover and be vulnerable enough to be shot. All my leaders know when I don’t know what to do, they know when I need to get outside help, they know when I am unsure on how to progress, they know when I know what the right thing to do is but need time to develop the moral fortitude to do it. But because they are that close, they are close enough to know that I often get it right, that I handle people well, that integrity, character, honesty matter to me, that I will seek wisdom, that I will keep going under pressure, that I have skills that help plant and grow churches. Can you see how both are consistently linked here.
Without people being close enough to see the flaws, they are not close enough to see your face, and they are not close enough to draw power from you and be equipped by you.
Now in balance, I am not saying open yourself up to everyone about everything. If you are a pastor of a church with more than a dozen people, someone would love to stab you in the back. I mean open yourself up to your key leaders, and sometimes to everyone. You need to be close enough to people for them to be able to see you, or else you are mentoring, equipping and raising up no one.
You have to get close enough to people to lead them and you have to get even closer to people to reproduce your life and gifting in them. If you are not seeing leaders raised up in your business, church or ministry, you need to consider if anyone is actually close enough to see how you handle things. The church needs delivered from the superstar preacher and pastor or TV minister who is so high up on a pedestal that no one can learn from them, hiding being “the secrets of the Lord” when asked how they do what they do. We will never change the world that way, we will never make disciples that way.
If anyone had the excuse for being a superstar preacher it was Peter. He spent three years as the de facto leader of the disciples of Jesus. He walked on water, he fed the five thousand, he did so much. He preached the first ever sermon in the first ever church service and saw three thousand people saved. But when he wrote Scripture, he said “I am a fellow elder” – in other words, he got into house meetings with people and spent time with them, sharing his life and his wisdom with people, getting close enough for them to see him.
We need the same attitude if we want to raise leaders. Selah.