Replacing Yourself

When I first began leading, I had 40 or so college students that would volunteer for me on a weekly basis. I knew that I couldn’t manage all of them and get everything done that needed to get done, so I recruited three captains that I planned to make into “mini-me’s” so they could run the teams. I only had to tell them everything they needed to know!

So I made lists. I had meetings. I sent out emails. I even made them t-shirts. And I believed that if I could tell the captains what they needed to do, then everything would go smoothly.

But I was wrong.

I never taught them how I thought, or why I had them doing what they were doing. I underestimated how much better they could lead by knowing my values and making decisions through that lense, rather than checking the list I gave them.

Same is true for you as you’re leading your apprentice. Replacing yourself requires more than just passing on what you know about leading a group. Don’t get me wrong, you should give your apprentice the knowledge you’ve gained though leading. But you know that what makes you a great leader isn’t that you know how to email everyone about snacks, or how to get people talking about their week. Being a great leader isn’t even about knowing tons about the Bible.

You are the best leader when you’re leading, in both the everyday moments and the tough seasons, with a posture that reflects humility, intentionality, teachability, and curiosity. And how you lead because of those postures is the most valuable thing you can pass onto your apprentice.

One of the best times for sharing the whys and hows of your leadership, is very quickly after the moment you’ve used them. It might be a tricky night of conversation around the study questions, or after someone shares something very vulnerable, or when your leadership ability is questioned. But after a group meeting when something like that happens, try calling your apprentice as they are driving home. Set up a lunch or coffee that week to talk through the posture you were exhibiting and help your apprentice think through how they could respond when they lead. Talk about how your posture affects the health of the group and what’s at stake.

I’m confident that in those times your apprentice will learn more than you know, and that God will use your experience and leadership to develop not only your apprentice, but all the people your apprentice will influence when they lead a group of their own. Replacing yourself multiplies your influence, and we want that for you and for them.