Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

A Calling to Indirect Leadership

One of the most difficult transitions for young, emerging leaders to make is the move from ‘doing the ministry’ to ‘leading the ministry’.  Church growth experts refer to this as a shift from ‘shepherding’ to ‘ranching’.  Many young leaders are asked to move from a grass-roots ministry (direct ministry) to leading others in the ministry (indirect ministry) because they have been faithful and ‘successful’ in their local responsibility.

The transition from doing the ministry directly to leading others as they do the ministry is a challenge for some.  This is not to say that leaders don’t continue to ‘do ministry’, but now their primary contribution will be overseeing and shepherding others, perhaps a ministry team, whose primary role will be direct ministry.  What are some of the difficulties in this transition and how can we overcome them?

To overcome one of the primary difficulties in a transition to leadership we need to have a sense of calling from the Lord.  If a person is not convinced that God has called them to leave their current role in order to assume a larger responsibility for overseeing others, there will be multiple opportunities for second-guessing the wisdom of the decision.  We must have a clear calling from God that He wants us to serve in this capacity at this time.  There should be a sense of destiny, that God has prepared us for this role and responsibility.  We must be convinced that our greatest contribution to the Kingdom at this time is in leading others, rather than doing the ministry directly.

When doing direct ministry we often receive affirmation and ‘strokes’ from those we serve.  We help them know Christ and grow in their walk with Him.   But in leadership we often hear of the problems from those we lead and affirmation for our contribution as a leader can be lacking.  A leader must find his/her strength and encouragement from the Lord and not from people (1 Samuel 30:6).

For those who serve with organizations whose members live from gift income, the financial challenge can be shattering.  When doing direct ministry we are constantly expanding the base of new people in our ministry who perhaps eventually will become part of our donor support team.  But in leadership we are now leading others who are living from gift income and we can’t expect them to join our donor team.  It takes great faith to trust that the God who calls us to leadership will also provide for us as we serve.  One of my favorite promises in this regard is Mark 10:29-30.

Leadership is challenging enough without adding to our stress load.  Have a clear sense of calling from God and trust Him to provide and care for you and your family.  You’ll find Him faithful and your leadership will be used to further His Kingdom!

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9 thoughts on “A Calling to Indirect Leadership

  1. Tom Horn on said:

    This is a big issue for many. It is far better to say no or not now than prematurely agree to a role for which you are not prepared or sense clear direction from the Lord. Organizational leaders especially need to honor when someone says no or not now.

  2. Ryan Kappel on said:

    Tom,
    Encouraged by this post today! I enjoy the illustration by the “church growth experts.” Do you have a few names to drop and books or articles? Thanks for sharing.

  3. David on said:

    Did you just write a blog about me, Tom? 😀
    Thanks for your wisdom.

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