Leadership: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

by Larry Hehn on February 11, 2013

leadershipI’ve always been a music buff, especially the “classic rock” genre. Growing up in Toronto in the 1970’s, my transistor radio was tuned in to local AM radio station 1050 CHUM for all the latest rock and roll hits. I still remember DJ Tom Rivers, who signed off his broadcast time with the slogan, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!”

Decades later, his slogan still strikes a chord with me, since I’ve always been concerned about which one of those three God is calling me to do.

Do you know someone who should be leading, but isn’t? Do you know someone who should be following, but isn’t? Do you know someone who just needs to get out of the way?

Could any one of those someones be you?

For four years a friend of mine, Marc, helped plant and pastor a new church. At the end of those four years he realized it had progressed as far as his leadership would take it. Marc loves his people. He swallowed his pride and made the difficult, painful decision to “get out of the way” so someone else could continue what he had started. That is the mark of a true leader. I can’t even begin to describe how much I admire him for that.

Another friend of mine was in virtually the same situation. He is a good man with many talents, but leadership is not one of them. Still, he assumed a position of leadership. He gave it his all, and took his young church as far as his ability would allow. But then, perhaps unaware of his limitations, he stayed in that position and refused to get out of the way.

It resulted in a slow and painful death spiral that left many good families hurt and disillusioned, physically, mentally and spiritually spent. What an unfortunate ending for something that started with so much hope and promise.

With those examples clearly in mind, last year I stepped out of a leadership role in the young adult ministry at our church and allowed it to take a whole new direction, under new leadership. For a while it felt like I was admitting defeat.

But then I realized…

Not everyone is called to be a leader, and that’s ok. We glorify God by using the talents and opportunities He has given us, and also by making room for others to use theirs. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing when to lead, when to follow, and when to get out of the way.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. – Romans 12:6-8

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