This is the second in a series of blogs talking about leadership and in particular church leadership. This blog deals with how leaders should empower the membership of the church.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Joseph Martin at his home. He is one of the premier church music composers in America today. My wife, Carla, Michael Slaughter, Music Minister of Fitzhugh Baptist Church, and his wife Rachel accompanied me. We were in for a real treat. Heather Sorenson was recording an album at Joseph's home that week.
We sat and listened as Heather played the piano. Joseph and a recording engineer were with us listening to her play a song. She would play the same section of that song many times. Each time, Joseph would critique her performance. One time he said he could hear her thumb too heavy on a key or another, she lifted her foot off the pedal too slow. He even said she missed playing a B note one time. To my untrained ear, each performance was beautiful and sounded the same. To the trained ear, Joseph heard each little nuance. I was amazed and asked him why it mattered so much, that I thought that it was all beautiful. He replied that once a recording is done, it is forever.
You see, Joseph is a perfectionist. He has conducted an orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He will soon perform at the Lincoln Center. Joseph knows how to blend all types of instruments together and come out with a beautiful noise.
That made me think about a church and how the leaders of the church are something like a conductor in a symphony. You see, all members of a symphony know how to play their particular instrument, but it takes a conductor to bring it all together.
The different members of a church congregation all have different talents. It takes leadership in the church to let the members use their talents in concert with the other members of the church to work effectively for God. When the leaders are not empowering the membership, talents are wasted. Many people are never even given the opportunity to use their talents.
Many many organizations including churches get into the same rut. We have all heard the same cliche over and over. Eighty per cent of the work gets done by twenty per cent of the people. Most of the time its those twenty per cent that tell you that they are doing all the work. My contention is when twenty per cent are doing all the work, there is a serious void of leadership in that organization. Frequently that twenty per cent don't want any help, even when it's offered. They get pretty comfortable with the idea that they are indispensable to the organization.
Now don't get me wrong, they are very important to the organization. Equally important is that other eighty per cent. They need to be brought into doing God's work. They don't need to be Sunday Pew Sitters. These people are missing out on real blessing.
A friend of mine, Rick Carson of the Vertroue Foundation is a great leader. I will never forget what he shared with me. He said that he is always looking for his replacement. He understands that he will not be there forever. My pastor shared the same idea with me this last week. That's real leadership. When a person is thinking more about his followers than he is himself, it shows. And people will follow that person. That's how Jesus treated his flock.
I mentioned in a earlier blog that a church is either moving forward or backwards that there is no neutral. It is up to the leaders of a church to keep that church in forward gear. The only way for the leaders of a church to keep it in forward gear is to empower the members of the congregation to use their talents effectively for God. That church will thrive and it's members will demonstrate great love for God and a huge desire to do his work. They will be a true family.
This type of leader gets down in the trenches with his followers. He encourages them, challenges them and instructs them in the ways of the Lord. He is a spiritual leader, yet he will get his hands dirty. He is almost always there to demonstrate to others his dedication to the Lord and shows the members first hand how hard he will work for the Lord. But, he always gives credit to God and seeks none for himself. As we always have heard there is no i in team. The leader is a team player and shows it by his actions. I pray for leadership in our churches.
Diana Ross and the Supremes first recorded, "I hear a Symphony". I wanted to let you hear it when recorded by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Hope you enjoy it.