By Ron Edmondson
One of the keys to a successful organization is also one of the riskiest things for a leader to do.
This is some of the hardest advice for me to give other leaders—and, without practice and discipline—one of the hardest for me to incorporate into my leadership.
Leader, if you want your organization to thrive, you have to be willing to give your vision away to those you lead.
Leaders talk a lot about the importance of sticking with a vision. We know we have to repeat a vision often. The vision is referred to for its value to an organization. Without a vision, the people perish.
We know all these principles. I agree with all the truths about vision.
I am actually referring to another principle though, which leaders sometimes overlook. The best leaders allow others to own the vision besides them. Actually they encourage it.
They give their vision away.
The key to incorporating this into your leadership is in surrounding yourself with people you trust enough to take your vision and implement it with their own personal touch. They get to live out their vision in cooperation with yours.
When we planted Grace Community Church I had a vision. It was actually a 10-year old vision. It was a specific vision to reach people far from God, but it was broad. I felt God wanted to have a church that reached people where they were, not with rules to perform for approval, but with unconditional love and grace. Through prayer and discernment, I recruited a co-pastor who shared the vision. I recruited a core team who could own the vision, as their own. The co-pastor and I recruited a worship leader who believed in the vision.
Then, step by step, we began to give away our vision.
Taking the existing vision, which never changed, we had core members who researched and shaped our children’s ministry. Others started our greeting ministry. Still others formed the structure of our preschool.
In this process, they developed these ministries with their own individual perspectives and desires. The ministries, while accomplishing the overall vision for the church, may or may not have looked like I would have personally planned them. In the end, however, they were far better than I could have ever produced on my own. Our church expanded rapidly, and, of course it was all grace, but looking back, it was also in great part because of those who owned the vision with us.
Leaders often operate out of fear and hold too tightly to their vision, afraid others will ruin their “dream,” but this never allows people to develop. It stifles growth and doesn’t allow the body (or the organization) to perform at its best. Ultimately it keeps the leader’s vision from achieving maximum potential.
My encouragement to leaders would be to surround yourself with people you trust enough to own your vision and place their own personal touch on it. Your church or organization will be the benefactor of this approach. (C) Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life.