Sharing your Leadership Space


If you are a father, a Vicar or head of a department, you own a leadership space.

That is the space you have to lead and make decisions. It is my thesis that for a church to grow healthily, the pastor needs to share his leadership space.

In our Anglican tradition, the Vicar is the focal point of unity in the local church as he serves the parish on behalf of his bishop. There is a leadership space already entrusted to him.

A wise Vicar will learn to share his leadership space as the parish grows. I am not talking about teamwork here, but team leadership, where the Vicar intentionally invites or empowers other leaders to share in his responsibilities. They need to be given space to seek the Lord over the issues and make decisions without having to refer back to the Vicar all the time. And I use the term ‘seek the Lord’ as this is one of a few indications whether leadership space is being shared. If a leader has the space to do so and not dependent on the Vicar to tell him what to do, this is a good sign of healthy leadership sharing. I have seen how some leaders spent weeks praying and deliberating, only for their plans to be turned down over a few minutes in the Vicar’s office.

Before I became a Vicar in 2001, I spent 16 years working as a parish worker and clergy under another vicar. Those were indeed wonderful years but I should add that I can also sense the limitations for someone who is has a leadership gifting.

A leader creates. He dream dreams. He pushes the boundaries. He is prophetic. He see what is not there and ask, "Why not?" It is a God-given gift and he needs to exercise it. While I am not advocating insubordination, the space to pray, plan, create, seek the Lord is essential for these type of leaders.

The question is - In your leadership team, do you have room for this type of leaders?

I am not talking about your youth pastor or language service pastor whom you will happily delegate to. I am talking about a co-pastor who may preach better than you in some way, plan better in some areas and who have a loyal following amongst some lay leaders and members. You are leading your team in such a way that pastors who could be a Vicar (or Senior Pastor) somewhere else chooses to work with you because of your willingness to give space for them to lead.

This is the kind of team leadership which I sense is needed for the church. It may not work in other organizations.

I see this clearly taught and practised in the Bible and history of the church. I see it in the Trinitarian "dance", where there is inter-submission though the authority-submission lines are clear. I see it in Pauline's idea of mutual-submission (Ephesians 5:21) and yet in the same passage, he outlined clearly who the leadership and submissive roles. In 1 Peter 5, Peter called himself a fellow-elder, serving under the Chief Shepherd.

A pastor need to see what the Father is doing. He sees this better on his own and through his fellow leaders.

Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating eldership where no one is clearly leading. That, as we can see in some churches, can lead to chaos. You can't have two fathers in a family, or two CEOs in a company.

However, you can lead the church in such a way that other gifted and strong leaders are fulfilled serving under or alongside you. This is because you are sharing your leadership space.

You are not uncomfortable...

when they dream dreams
when they give you feedback
when members seem to prefer their preaching than yours
when they seek the Lord and catches a new vision

You are at ease...

with a senior leadership team where discussions are robust
when you are being corrected
when you have to make reversals because you have been proven wrong
when you are anonymous and they get the limelight

What are the rewards of leadership-space sharing? You will gather a very strong team of pastors and leaders. They will seldom look for "greener pastures" or seek to be kings of their own hills.

No, they are not even following you. They are following their Master. What you have done is to create a genuine Christian environment in which their calling can be fully realised.

Like me, like them, like you - we are all seeking for an authentic Christian culture to serve in.

Share your leadership space. I don't aways get this right but I do try, by His grace.

It is a space worth sharing that other pastors and leaders may thrive in.

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