This Week’s Momentum article is a Guest Post from Anne Harrison:
While working my way through college I had several odd jobs. One job was working at a TCBY yogurt shop. Though it was difficult, I managed to not gain 500 pounds while working there and learn some valuable lessons. Actually it was an extremely stressful job. You’d think selling people cold confections would be full of joy and dancing children but I quickly found a common problem among patrons. The yogurt was sold by the ounce. So if you got five ounces with one topping, that meant 5 ounces with one scoop of topping. Yet people were constantly accusing me of short changing them their due goods…”Hey…you didn’t put enough in there!” or “Could you spare a little?! I’m paying $.75 for one scoop of Butterfinger!” Well this stressed me out completely. So I began to over compensate. I would give an extra dollop of frozen yogurt, put an extra scoop or two of topping, or squirt a nice tall tower of whipped cream. Guess what? I got it from the other side! My boss was furious with me. After he read me my rights, he made a huge sign that read “DON”T OVER GIVE PRODUCT!!” and promptly put it up in the back of the store.
What a mess. Recently while my family was enjoying fro-yo at our local frozen concoction place, I was reminiscing about those good old days. Kris and I were discussing the brilliance of self-serve frozen yogurt. Cut out the middleman. YOU decide how much yogurt goes in your cup. YOU decide how much topping to load up on the mound you’ve created and then YOU decide if YOU want that extra squirt of whipped cream. Brilliant. And there is nothing to argue about as you weigh the cup on the scale in front of you. Again I’ll say it…brilliant!!
Other than making you hungry for fro-yo I’m sure you are wondering “What does that have to do with leadership in ministry?” I think we can often be like the ice cream shop employee when it comes to managing the ministry we are involved in. We either want to call the shots, play hard and fast by the rules, and micromanage our team or we don’t want to offend anyone, put anyone out and make anyone uncomfortable. It’s a difficult road to maneuver as we lead others, but not an impossible one.
Even when the stakes are high, we can foster good leadership by taking a hard look from our local yogurt shops example…put the responsibility in the hands of the consumer. For example, God has put it on your heart to mentor someone. You see great potential for growth and leadership in this individual. I don’t know about you, but my tendency is to take charge, micromanage and over compensate…in other words lead, right? What if I put the responsibility in their court…let them decide what we will study, let them take the initiative to set up our meeting time…give the them reigns. This doesn’t mean I can’t make suggestions or have an opinion, but it gives the opportunity for ownership in this individual, it fosters healthy growth and it removes an (unnecessary burden) from my plate.
When we micromanage our leaders, we give off the vibe that “Hey…you have great leadership qualities but it’s my way or the highway and I don’t really trust you.” When we turn over the responsibility to our leaders, it may get messy, but we are teaching our leaders to become more effective leaders themselves, foster their creativity and most importantly, give freedom to let the leader of all leaders, the Holy Spirit, to guide them. One of the greatest leaders in my life led by this method of leadership. She would allow so much room for mistakes and growth that I thought she had no vision at all. But over the years, as I watched her lead, I would see her gently guide individuals that got to far off the vision. It was never in an overly negative or overt way…she would simply redirect their path until, continuing to allow them to make decisions, until they were headed in the direction she needed them to go. Brilliant! Brilliant leadership! Scary leadership for sure, because it forces us to let go of control, but effective leadership because it cares for the individual more than the product.