The backseat of many ministries, churches and organizations are vacant, waiting to be filled and fueled by leaders that are willing to lead from behind. Still, leaders young and old alike succumb to cultural pressures that tell us that true success is defined by being the the lead man or woman.
When I was cutting my teeth on my new found faith in my young adult years, my senior pastor was 28 years old. Nothing was ever said to me, but somehow I formed a false idea that if I wasn’t leading my own thing by the age of 28 it was a major fail. A few years later the nature of being a youth pastor gave me some of the autonomy I thought I was destined for, but down deep I wanted to be a leading something by the time I was 28. I wanted to be God’s man for God’s plan!
Because of my incorrect thinking I made two wrong decisions. Both decisions involved church planting ventures. The first wrong decision I made was when I was 28 (Go Figure!). I made a choice to move my family from California to Texas to be a part of a church planting team led by a popular minister only to have him call the church plant off three months into it. The second was when I was 33 (Jesus started his ministry at 33 years of age right?). We had moved back to California, close to family and to work with a church that had been planted 4 years earlier by my former youth pastor. At that time I had agreed to come and be the youth pastor with the idea of planting another church when the church was able, yet at the 4 year mark I got impatient and “planted” prematurely.
Now, I just want to take a moment and mention that God can take any wrong and make it right! The things you go through get you to the place God wants you to be. So I’m not currently living with any regret just in case your wondering. (I will save this bunny trail for another post).
Eighteen months into my premature church plant we closed the doors and I crashed personally. It was two of the most difficult years of my life. For the first time I was out of ministry working in the marketplace discouraged, depressed and defeated hoping to get another opportunity without a major move involved at a church somewhere in the Sacramento area. That’s when a door was opened to me at New Life.
What New Life initially offered me was far from my dream job, but wanting to get back into a ministry environment I accepted the offer to be there community relations, marketing guy. I’m still not sure of the portfolio, but it had purpose and passion connected to it. Over the next three to four years through a series of events I would be promoted to executive pastor. It was from this place of promotion that I found fulfillment in every way.
Now even though it would it appear as though I “climbed the ladder” to the executive spot, internally in my heart I took a backseat. From the pain of wanting to be the lead pastor of a church plant that didn’t go as expected, it became clear that God didn’t want me leading from the front, but from behind. I vowed to myself and God that I would be the best second man anyone could have. For the next several years I took the backseat and God took me to places I would have never gone, connected with people I would have never met, and experienced some of my most fruitful years of ministry.
Leadership in our day has been romanticized, especially in church and ministry circles. The best leaders are the guys leading thousands, planting the fastest growing churches in America, speaking at all the major conferences. Yes that can be the result of good leadership, but it also can cause you to lust after something that was never meant for you. Many young leaders in my opinion are lusting after a leadership persona that is romantic and not realistic. In fact, many of the leaders we see up front have amazing leaders behind them.
I truly believe that God is looking to promote people who are willing to take the backseat. It’s how His kingdom works! It is the place where the only way to get higher is to get humble. The lower you get the higher God takes you. The more you lose yourself, the more you find fulfillment in your leading.
If your tired of climbing the leadership ladder to supposed success, I encourage you to take a backseat. Trust God, trust the leader God is calling you to support, and lead courageously from behind.
Is God calling you to take the backseat? By the way if you like this post I would appreciate if you took time to LIKE my Facebook page by clicking on LIKE in the right hand column!