Most leaders naturally want to advance in responsibility. Leaders want to exercise greater influence and make a greater impact. It’s also the case though that most are tempted to seek and/or accept promotions that they shouldn’t accept. Too many within our modern culture have the attitude, “I have no experience, but I am willing to start at the top.” And far too many within the church, confuse exception gifting with leadership readiness.
In Jesus’ well-known Parable of the Talents we learn that the reward for faithfulness is in fact more responsibility. In other words, God understands the desire leaders have to grow and he also recognizes the necessity of having a process by which we are considered for promotions to increased responsibility. “Well done…” Jesus said to the faithful servant, “You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21). The good news is that God does promote us. God rewards us with more opportunity as we demonstrate the ability to bear more responsibility. To what “few things” are you giving your faithful attention, such that you will be ready for God’s promotion?
One of the greatest dangers in life is advancing in responsibility without demonstrating faithfulness. In other words, we can advance in responsibility without being promoted by God. We can actually be promoted by other leaders, without demonstrating faithfulness in areas that matter the most. This turns out to be a terrible burden in the end, and, ironically, it happens most often to those with the greatest gifts. The greater one’s gifts the more tempting it is to seek and/or receive promotions beyond our demonstrated faithfulness. It happens all the time in the church. People see someone’s gifting as a teacher and promote them in leadership beyond their demonstrated faithfulness.
It is the responsibility of senior staff members, as well as Elders in the local church, to help people bear increasing amounts of fruit (Ephesians 4:11). With this in mind we should constantly be looking to “entrust” those who have demonstrated reliability (2 Timothy 2:2) with increasing ministry responsibility. Those who prove faithful in a few areas, can be put in charge of more (Matthew 25:21). However, we must also be careful not to promote folks beyond their faithfulness, and we must not allow someone else to press us into areas of service for which we are not ready.
This is where one-to-one coaching is helpful. Coaches can provide accountability by asking directed questions. Coaches can also help us to gather constructive feedback, as well as offer a more objective assessment of gifts, call and readiness for ministry promotions.