Admitting You Aren’t the One – A Hard, but Critical Part of Leadership

Leadership is not about having all the answers.

One sign of a great leader — in my opinion — is to be bold enough to say, “I don’t have all the answers”.

Perhaps even harder, “I’m not the one to carry this task forward.”

That takes humility.

I observed the pressure some pastors and leaders place on themselves to have all the answers and to be good at everything they do. And churches and organizations sometimes hold leaders to this level of excellence and expectation.

The fact is, however, that most of us only do a few things really well. Understanding this and being willing to admit it is an indication one is becoming a mature leader — and will actually help them be better leaders.

I love the story of King David in 1 Chronicles 28. The preceding chapters outline how David had diligently organized the kingdom, but then David humbly handed over reins to his son.

Of course, he did this at the command of God, but his speech to the people is not filled with bitterness and anger. Instead, it was filled with encouragement and challenge to keep the vision moving forward.

There are several Biblical examples of this type leadership.

I love some of the succession talk that is taking place in the church world today. I love watching as some more mature pastors help the church figure out what’s next for the church — after their leadership. My friends William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird have actually written a book on the subject. I just joined a church where a senior (older) pastor is taking a year to hand off the reins to a younger pastor.

But I think this is a daily issue. Few of us are good at admitting we need help or releasing areas from our control. Again, it takes humility. I see that especially true in church leadership. (And for those who will say the church expects it — I get that — but that’s where leadership is needed even more.)

Great leaders are willing to admit when they don’t know the answer, when they don’t have a plan for the current situation, when they need help figuring out a solution, when they are in over their head, or even — and when they are no longer the right one for the job.

Even greater leaders are willing to allow and actually promote and encourage others who are skilled in areas they are not and more capable of leading at the time.

Two questions:

Pastor or leader, in what area of your life do you need to humbly step aside and let another lead? (It might be in the best interest of everyone if you did.)

And, do you have any personal examples of where you’ve seen or are seeing a senior leader extend power to others? (Share a story with us.)

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Ron Edmondson

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