God has not designed us lead our Congregations on our own. No-one is that good. We lead much better when we do so in teams – when we work together.
Moses needed his Father-in-Law (Jethro) to point out that his ‘lone ranger’ leadership style wasn’t sustainable, and that he needed people to work with him. Some of the most catastrophic examples of leadership in the bible occurred when people tried a similar (but uncorrected) ‘lone ranger’ leadership style (see 1 & 2 Kings). Conversely, one of the first things Jesus did, in His public ministry, was to form a team of followers. Every great leader eventually works this out.
Even those rarely gifted individuals who have the capacity to work on their own, for a season, should eventually come to the conclusion that nobody has all the spiritual gifts needed to equip people for service, on their own. The Apostle Paul stated this clearly: “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors (shepherds) and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” [Ephesians 4.11-12].
Every congregation needs access to all of these ‘equipping gifts’ (i.e. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers) in order to thrive. You can summarise this group of gifts as the APEST gifts, and there are various books which take in-depth look at how they work in practise (e.g. Primal Fire by Neil Cole; 5Q by Alan Hirsch). Each of these gifts, given to individuals but best used in teams, equips the Body of Christ for service in different ways:
From time to time, every congregation loses its sense of purpose, gets stuck in a rut, feels apathetic, loses heart and is tempted to embrace strange ideas. Conversely, the 5-Fold gifts are given to help us to become more focused, ingenious, compassionate, emotionally whole and discerning. Individual leaders can never do all these things. So, if you have strayed into ‘lone ranger’ leadership, it’s time to STOP. Form a leadership team. Share the load. We’re better together.
This blog contains the ninth principle taught to all new congregation leaders in the Joshua Centre’s Leadership Development Program (within the theme: ‘Lead Your Team’).