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Testing Your Leadership: People vs. Programs

Leaders who leave a legacy see the value in people. They realize that ministry is not a program but people who are moving out of the overflow of their gifts. Disciples will not emerge from a program; they will emerge from a relationship. Discipleship must be carried out by someone, not something. It takes time, attention, prayer.

Paul demonstrates how he values Timothy when he refers to him as “my true son” in both 1 and 2 Timothy. He told Timothy to fan into flames the gift that he received when Paul laid his hands on him; so evidently, Paul deposited some sort of spiritual gift into Timothy. Paul told Timothy not to let others look down on him because he was young but to be an example to them. Paul recognized that it’s not just his preaching and his writing that will carry on after him; it’s the investments that he had made in people. In fact, when we look at the qualifications that Paul gives for leadership in the church in 1 Timothy 3, most of them are directly related to how a person interacts with other people. It’s not about his gifts or his leadership ability as much as it’s about faithfulness to his spouse, self-control, reputation, gentleness, the way he manages his family, is respected as a person of integrity.

People who leave a legacy will invest their time and their gifts in other people.

Consider a story of two preachers—George Whitefield and John Wesley. They were contemporaries- both lived in the 1700s, and both were amazing leaders of the church in their day. Whitefield was an amazing speaker, probably the best preacher of his generation. John Wesley spent more of his time training others. Even today, you can visit the chapel that he built at Bristol in which he installed a glass window above the sanctuary from which he could watch his young emerging ministers preach. Afterwards, he would meet with each of them and evaluate their progress. While Whitefield’s legacy certainly lives on in his writings and sermons, Wesley’s lives on in his writings, sermons, and the investments he made in others. Wesley was committed to spiritual reproduction—to multiplication—and the result was the Methodist movement, which turned into the Methodist church, which boasts of thousands and thousands of followers today. That’s the power of valuing people and investing your life into them.

Spend less time trying to devise your next program for discipling people and invest a few hours talking to someone, giving them an opportunity, or taking them on an adventure.