You Have to Step Back to Move Others Ahead
You Have to Step Back to Move Others Ahead
Leadership development is an important component of the success of any organization, church and even family. The adage that “birds of a feather flock together” is perhaps truer today than at any time in history. We go to church, movies, concerts, trips and just hang out with people, who are in many ways, just like us, or at least share many of our values. Research conducted by Roger Highfield states:
"Once you have a little piece of information about someone being similar to you or different, you seem to take it and run with it. You may think they are similar to you across the board, even though you may not have much reason to think this. It is rather surprising.”
I bet if you think about the people and groups that you belong to, you will assume, there are more similarities than differences. The fact is we relate better to people that are like us. So, it should come as no surprise that many leaders often don’t pour themselves into the best qualified, but those who most remind them of themselves. But leadership development isn’t about developing others to be us, it’s about helping them maximize their potential. Harvey Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, recognized this when he said:
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
There comes a point in our individual, career, and spiritual development in which progress or success is no longer measured by what we achieve, but by what others can achieve because of our presence. Developing others requires that we take a step out of the spotlight, so that someone else can step in and have the light shine on them. Steven Spielberg said, “the job of a Director is to work behind the camera to bring out the best of those in front of the camera.”
Developing others does not happen by accident rather it requires a conscious decision. It is the realization that there is something bigger, and more important purpose. For example, on March 7, 1985, 46 of the world’s biggest recording artists travelled from all over the world to record a song. On this night, there were no arguments about who would sing lead, how many lines each had, or how they would receive credit for their participation. As producer Quincy Jones stated, “they didn’t need the sign on the door to tell them to check their ego. Those 46 singers came into the session with one thing on their minds: to try and make a difference. And they did.” “Every second of that night was magical. As artists, we are all just vessels for God’s whispers, and I know God walked through the studio that night, a couple of times.” The 46 artists would step back so the song, We Are the World, just over 6 minutes long, could raise more than $63 million to help the people of Haiti.
Developing others does not happen in a vacuum, nor does it happen independently. Leadership development, like spiritual development, needs to involve others. We do not become leaders, nor are leaders developed, on our own. As author Kenneth Boa states, “it is interesting that no person in the Bible comes to faith in Christ apart from the work of another human being. Even Saul of Tarsus, when he was confronted by the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, was sent to another person who would tell him what to do (Acts 9).”
How did Jesus do it? He made sure they were ready and then He stepped back. Stepping back doesn’t mean He wasn’t involved. Luke 10 tells us that before stepping back, and commissioning His disciples, Jesus ensured that:
- They were well-trained
- They had a clear vision
- They had the authority to do what they were asked to do
- They were provided supervision
- Their success was celebrated
Developing others won’t always be easy. When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He told them “Take nothing extra on your journey. Just go as you are. Don’t carry a staff, a backpack, food, money, not even a change of clothes (Luke 9:1-10, TPT). While you certainly won’t have these constraints, you should prepare for the negativity and criticism you may encounter. How many times has a child accused a parent of having a favorite? How many people have complained that they are not being treated fairly? As a leader, how do you respond? The answer can be found in 2 Timothy 2:24 (NOG):
“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone. He must be a good teacher. He must be willing to suffer wrong.”
Perhaps most importantly, developing others requires that we guard against hypocrisy. As Matthew 6:1 (TPT) requires:
“Examine your motives to make sure you’re not showing off when you do your good deeds, only to be admired by others; otherwise, you will lose the reward of your heavenly Father”.
When we seek to develop others, we focus on their need to grow, not our need to control. It is no longer about serving our needs, but theirs. It sounds like we need take a step back and check our egos at the door.
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