One thing I love about the automobile industry is their solution to problem solving. Faulty parts do not have to undergo painstaking surgery. They are simply replaced with a duplicate part that works.
Imagine if God suddenly called you to a different role in ministry, would there be someone that could fulfill the responsibilities of your current position? Would there be a replacement that could do the same job? Learning the principle of duplication is an important key to being able to grow a lasting ministry. It allows for your church to keep running smoothly even if a few parts are replaced along the way.
Jesus’ twelve disciples were chosen to help Him with His earthly ministry, but more importantly, they were chosen to become duplicates of Him so that they in turn could duplicate His nature in others. They were not precise duplicates of Christ because they had sinned, but they did learn how to be Christ-like.
As a leader, you should know how to duplicate your role in ministry three different ways. First, learn to duplicate yourself as a boss would. Train people beneath you to do more generic tasks so that you can focus on doing what only you can do. Moses did this in Exodus 18:13-26 when he established a system of judges to help maintain order among the Israelites in the wilderness. As a result, Moses did not wear himself out and was able to endure the pressures of his calling. Similarly, the Apostles in Acts 6:1-7 appointed seven men to administer a food program so that they could focus on prayer and preaching the Word. As a result, the number of disciples in Jerusalem greatly increased.
Second, learn to duplicate yourself as a teacher would. When you went to school, you did not go to learn something that you would only practice at school, but you went to learn something that you could practically apply elsewhere in a situation that needs it. God has given you specific gifts. You have been called to a specific role in ministry. Remember to share your knowledge with others. Teach them so that they may go throughout the world and use that knowledge to further the gospel.
Lastly, learn to duplicate yourself as a mentor would. Ensure that someone can take your place once the season in your current role of ministry is fulfilled. Jesus focused on mentoring His disciples so that they could effectively continue His ministry after His ascension. Mentoring takes time, but that investment is well worth it when your years of hard work don’t die but continue to thrive after you leave.
Recently, I transitioned from one area of ministry into another. I had been involved with a preschool ministry for over six years. Throughout the years, I oversaw handfuls of workers. With each worker, I would duplicate myself as a boss would. I would train them to handle various tasks according to their gifts so that I could focus on administration and preaching. With several workers, I duplicated myself as a teacher would, and they took what they learned and put it to use supervising their own classes. Yet when it was time for me to transition into a new area of ministry, I needed to turn to the man I had mentored. Mentoring requires four stages to guarantee success.
The first step is to look for someone with potential. Who appears to have what it takes to do what you do? Sometimes this is obvious, but do not forget to consider less obvious candidates. Jesus picked disciples that many thought were unfit for religious work, but He saw potential in them. So how can you see potential? Start with a set of requirements. The early church had requirements for elders (Titus 1:6-9). Are there any essentials for your role? These guidelines will help you narrow down the list of potential candidates.
Second, you must look for someone who is teachable. A person can have all the potential in the world but is useless if he is unteachable. The teaching process is the longest stage of the four. The more complicated your role in ministry, the more difficult it will be to teach to someone. If there is someone who has already learned similar skills to yours, that is an advantage but not necessarily essential. The only essential is that he or she is a good learner.
Some people are learners but not doers. You need someone who can put into practice what they learn. Yes, you may have to correct him or give him guidance along the way, but overall, he or she needs to be capable of performance. Ideally, that performance will be even better than your own.
Lastly, that performance needs to be sustainable. You’ve found someone who can learn and perform, but can he or she handle the pressures of flying solo? Will the ministry be able to last and thrive under the person you mentored? This is a true test of leadership.
I was fortunate to have someone who met these four stages. He has been able to continue my previous area of ministry so that I can focus on where God wants me now. Best of all, he has brought leadership gifts of his own that will help further season the workers serving him and add a fresh approach to the ministry itself. No matter what your role is in ministry, look for people who you can duplicate yourself in. Whether you are a janitor, a designer, or a pastor, look for people who can learn from the excellence in what you do. Never stop duplicating.