This weekend, as our Christian Education director and I were leading a training session for our youth and children’s ministry leaders, it struck me that one of our biggest challenges toward becoming better leaders of leaders is to master the art of letting go. As directors, we need to let go of our desire to control everything that happens in every classroom and every youth meeting. As Sunday School teachers and youth leaders we need to let go of our desire to be sure the kids “get it” the way we want them to, and empower them to minister to each other. As pastors we need to let go of our need to have every adult leader parrot us. We all need to confess our control-freak-ness and begin a process of recovery.
The Apostle Paul seems to have been far less controlling. He empowered leaders in every church met or planted. He got the ball rolling, then often left just as things started to take off. Paul was not a control freak, and you would think he would have wanted to be. There weren’t any pre-approved curricula for small group ministry. There were no denominational authorities to appeal to. There was no New Testament even, to guide these new leaders. I think Paul was relying on something else.
Paul trusted the Spirit to work. He trusted in the living, resurrected Christ dwelling in those who had received the gospel. Paul knew the church wasn’t his, it was God’s, and its success or failure depended far more on the presence of Christ than the presence of Paul.
I need to learn that again. I talk a good game about the priesthood of all believers, as any protestant should, but I’m not sure I actually trust it. Like a helicopter parent, I want to hover over every small group, every leader, every class in the church, and make sure things are going the way I want them to go. I say I’m doing it in the name of Jesus, but I’m not so sure.