Nearly every church leadership blog will tell you one thing: You need to train your replacement; if you’re doing your same job a year from now, you’ve failed as a leader. They say you need to work yourself out of a job.
It must be true since so many of the leadership gurus say it, right?
First of all, that’s a lot of pressure. You aren’t a failure if you don’t replicate yourself. Maybe you just aren’t what they define as a leader. (And that’s okay.)
Second of all, that’s a corporate machine mindset, not a “fearfully and wonderfully made” mindset. I’m convinced it’s a bad idea to seek to replace yourself. Instead, you should work to further wiggle into the role that’s perfect only for you.
You were custom designed. You were created. You are unique.
When you start thinking someone can replace you, you start losing sight of your uniqueness. You merely become a cog in a wheel that’s easily replaced. But God created you with distinguished aptitudes and perspectives. You can’t be replaced. That is to say, you can’t be replaced if you’re doing specifically what you should be doing.
If you’re a phenomenal graphic designer, you shouldn’t necessarily be training someone to replace you as a graphic designer. You probably weren’t made for an administrative role. What you should be doing is finding people who can do the administrative stuff for you. You should be clearing away any task that isn’t perfectly within your scope of success.
If you’re a phenomenal sound engineer, should you really stop running sound? You should train people who can cover for you when you’re gone. But if you’re to the sound world what Michael Phelps is to the swimming world, why would you relegate yourself to a coaching job? Swim, baby, swim!
I believe the next creative revolution in the Church will not be about bigger stage designs, flashier videos, or better worship music. I believe it will be about killing corporate Christianity that has tried to suppress individual expression. The Church will move to a new manifestation of creativity, celebrating what makes congregations and their people unique.
No church will look the same because no pastor is the same. No staff is the same. And no congregation is the same. Designers will have unique styles that come from the unique perspective of the team. Sound engineers will have unique audio atmospheres because they collaborate with the uniqueness of the worship leaders they support. Videos won’t just copy the excellence of Elevation Church and Hillsong, they’ll be uniquely excellent.
You are irreplaceable. That isn’t to say someone else can’t do your job, but nobody can do the things you do the way you do them. Let your uniqueness shine through within the culture of your church. Don’t discount the unique calling God has placed on your life.
It’s fine to train volunteers. It’s fine to teach people what you do. But never ever try to replace yourself. Instead, seek to encourage the unique gifts in others to be uniquely who they are called to be. Empower that. You run your race; let them run theirs.
You run your race; let them run theirs.
Creative Entrepreneur / Writer
San Antonio, TX
Jonathan is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of Created for More —a devotional for creatives and Unwelcome —a book helping churches become more welcoming. Jonathan is also the creator of Sunday|Magazine, ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com, and SeriesIdeas.com. His latest e-book, “Set the Stage: a Manifesto for Church Stage Design” is available now. You’ll find him in San Antonio, Texas roasting his own coffee beans enjoying life with his Argentine wife, Carolina.