We’ve all seen it. A church goes into a tail-spin after its long-time pastor retires or dies. A business struggles with its identity and purpose when its owner retires. A child fails to leave home (or leaves and utterly fails) because they have grown dependent upon their parents.
A secure leader realizes that one thing they must focus on is people-development. They must develop those around them so that the mission can carry on long after the leader has departed.
Jesus provided us with an excellent example. As God’s Son who came to redeem the world, He knew that the Gospel was the Good News that humanity needed. We needed to be forgiven of our massive sin debt and be brought into relationship with God.
Yet, that message needed messengers. So, He poured Himself into 12 men for 3 solid years. He knew that He was going to depart for Heaven 40 days after His resurrection so He equipped 12 guys (minus Judas) to carry on after He left.
We also see this principle in a section of Scripture that I read this morning. It began when God told Moses that his death was imminent. (I’m glad that God isn’t so blatantly honest with me! lol)
Numbers 27:12-13 (New Living Translation)
“One day the Lord said to Moses, ‘Climb one of the mountains east of the river, and look out over the land I have given the people of Israel. After you have seen it, you will die like your brother, Aaron,'”
When Moses heard this, his immediate reaction wasn’t to plead for a longer life. No. Not at all. He wasn’t primarily concerned about himself. His reaction reveals his heart for those he led.
Numbers 27:15-17 (New Living Translation)
“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O Lord, you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Please appoint a new man as leader for the community. Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd.'”
Ultimately, we read in Scripture that Moses was focused on God’s glory. He wanted God to be seen as the incredible God that He truly was. Further, Moses recognized that the perception that others had of God would be directly tied to the people of Israel. If they faltered, the nations would question Israel’s God. If they were strong, others would be impressed by Israel’s God. (see Numbers 14:13-19).
Simply put, leadership was essential because by it the nation of Israel would thrive and God would be glorified. Good leadership was directly tied to God’s glory!
So, the remedy was for Moses to train up a successor.
“The Lord replied, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him. Present him to Eleazar the priest before the whole community, and publicly commission him to lead the people. Transfer some of your authority to him so the whole community of Israel will obey him. When direction from the Lord is needed, Joshua will stand before Eleazar the priest, who will use the Urim – one of the sacred lots cast before the Lord – to determine his will. This is how Joshua and the rest of the community of Israel will determine everything they should do.’ So Moses did as the Lord commanded. He presented Joshua to Eleazar the priest and the whole community. Moses laid his hands on him and commissioned him to lead the people, just as the Lord had commanded through Moses.”
Moses had been working with Joshua. He had been mentoring this young leader. Now, God made it clear that Joshua would take over after Moses’ departure. Moses was to immediately confer some of his authority upon this young man as he equipped him to take over after Moses died.
This is a tell-tell sign of a secure leader: They train up their successors. They equip others who will carry on when they leave. They give them authority and let them begin to spread their leadership wings. They give them room to make mistakes and then help clean up the mess. They help them develop good decision-making skills and help them to make wise decisions.
This is what good leaders do. Secure leaders work themselves out of a job.
Whether you are a parent who is training up your children, a boss who is training your workforce and preparing for a segue in leadership, a teacher who is equipping your pupils, a pastor who is developing mature Christ-followers, etc., focus on equipping your successor. A leader who genuinely cares about the future will focus on pouring themselves into the next generation of leaders.
Are you working yourself out of a job? If you lead correctly and focus on cultivating those around you, there will come a time when you can step back and simply admire the leaders you have developed. Your heart will fill with joy when you see them competently carrying on without you.
Who are you equipping?