Are You Casting a Shadow, or In Someone's Shadow?

Photo credit: Ptr Larry Anderson Over the past few weeks I've been filling in for a pastor on sabbatical. I'm in Juneau, Alaska as part of a team of five pastors who've served this church (and their pastor) over the past several months. Each of us brings a different style and area of ministry focus.

It's a healthy church body and my role is primarily working with discipleship and developing leaders. In my opinion, I've got the gravy job. Most of the nuts and bolts ministry work was done before I got here. So I'm thankful for my fellow Poimen Ministries pastors, including those serving in other places.

This third and final post, in a series on leadership transition, is a combination of questions and thoughts to help you look toward and plan for a good transition of leadership.

Leadership Transition—part 3

If you've followed along, this is the 3rd post related to the story of leadership transition from King Solomon to his son Rehoboam, as told in 2 Chronicles 10. If not, you might want to review the previous two posts in this series. The first is– The Importance of Passing the Baton Well, and the second is– Leadership Transition and the Value of a Team.

As with part 2, this will mostly be questions to consider, and these will focus more on the one coming into a leadership role or position. Although it can be looked at from a younger leader's (pastor's) perspective, there are good things to ponder for those of us who've been in leadership for quite a while.

Do you cast a shadow, or are you in the shadow?

A couple things to keep in mind...

It's always tough to follow in the footsteps of a founding leader or pastor, especially if they were a very charismatic personality type of leader, who is popular and well-liked. It is especially difficult when they remain nearby—it's hard to get out from under their shadow.

[bctt tweet="It's always tough to follow in the footsteps of a founding leader or pastor"]

Can you imagine what it was like to follow someone like Solomon? Solomon did very well, but his dad (King David) set things up very well for him. That favor was not returned for Rehoboam—a lesson to be learned!

[bctt tweet="Do you cast a shadow, or are you in someone's shadow?"]

Some questions and thoughts to consider

  • If you're a founding leader or pastor– What are you doing now to provide for a smooth transition for whoever will follow you?

We have the example of King David setting things up for Solomon, but we also have Jesus.

Once Jesus began His public ministry, He started grooming those who would become the leaders of the first church. He chose twelve men and trained them through teaching, example, and delegation. He told them and showed them, then sent them out.

[bctt tweet="How are you providing for a smooth transition for whoever follows you?"]

I over-simplified Jesus' training process, but a more thorough look at it can be found in many good books. One I always recommend is the classic, "The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Robert Coleman.

And don't forget the apostle Paul, who wrote most of the epistles of the New Testament, especially those called the Pastoral Epistles—1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Paul has much to say about discipling and raising up leaders!

  • If you're a new leader or pastor– What model of leadership are you following? That of Jesus, or someone you're trying to emulate?

I served as a missionary and pastor in the Philippines for fifteen years. Another pastor and I served as interim pastors at a local church, and my friend recruited a young Filipino pastor to serve at our church. I had the opportunity to help this young pastor get settled as the new senior pastor.

He was discipled well by another American missionary-pastor, so he was equipped to teach and he also led worship. But, I encouraged him to develop his own vision for the church, and with his own style of leading.

[bctt tweet="Whose example are you following? Jesus, or some successful person?"]

His mentor had a strong personality, so I was concerned the younger pastor would tend to emulate him. He followed that advice and developed into a strong pastoral leader and teacher. He is also committed to discipling other leaders within the church.

  • Are you following a founding pastor? If so, what are you doing to help the people of the organization or church adjust to a different leadership style and personality?
    • Are you starting out fresh with a new vision and direction?
    • What are you bringing along with you as a leader from your own experience, good or bad?

King David had a vision for the Kingdom of Israel while he was king, and saw beyond his own reign. Because of his passion for God he wanted to build a temple, but this was not God's plan. So King David set things in place for the temple to be built by his son, as well as the transition of leadership (see 1 Chronicles 22).

  • Has God given you a fresh vision for leadership?
    • Can you articulate this vision clearly so others can see it with you?
    • Has God revealed His plan for how this vision is to be implemented and fulfilled?
    • Have you sought out counsel from more experienced leaders?
  • Or...
    • Are you moving forward with your own ideas as it seems best to you?
    • Are your plans based on borrowed ideas from someone who's "successful"?

Some final thoughts

A leadership book I've found very helpful over the years is, "The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make," by Hans Finzel. I like it because it's based on real experience, it's concise and practical, and provides clear direction for how not to make these same mistakes. It is well worth the read.

Hopefully, along the path of leadership, we can learn how to make good transitions, so others may follow well. If you want the top 10 ways to lead, observe the master leader, Jesus! No one can improve on His methods, nor match His example.

If you'd like the help of some seasoned pastors, check out Poimen Ministries— we're committed to serving pastors.