Equipping to Equip
Good afternoon from Managua, Nicaragua!
During my time in Nicaragua something I have known to be true for a long time has been made even clearer – I can only do so much on my own. That is not to say one person cannot make a great difference because I truly believe they can. Throughout history we can see individual people who impacted the world in big ways. What we also see, however, is that they did not do it in isolation. In fact, many times these great leaders had groups of people around them who were vital to the success of their cause and, many times, continued to advance the cause after the leader was out of the picture. What does that mean for those who are leading today?
In leadership there is a tendency to micromanage. Often people feel as if things will just go smoother if I do it on my own or at least tell whoever is doing it exactly what to do. While this strategy may work in the short term, it creates an issue – what happens when the leader is not there anymore? What is also true, but not always as obvious is that it does not really work that well in the short term either. By micromanaging or trying to do it all on our own, we are limiting the impact to one person. When we decide to equip others and give them the opportunity to lead, the impact can be greater than we can imagine. One of the greatest leaders in history, Jesus, understood this concept. In John’s account of Jesus’ life we find an important teaching moment regarding this idea. “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.’Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:12-15, NIV 1984) This was one of many moments when Jesus equipped his disciples so that they could multiply the impact by going out and applying what they had learned. Instead of solely focusing on the difference he could make alone, he took the time to build into others so that they could be leaders themselves and, therefore, advance the cause to a degree that one person could not. What was the result? These same disciples, through the power of the Holy Spirit, helped to create and advance a movement that is still changing lives and the world today.
This realization has greatly impacted what I am doing in Nicaragua. By focusing on building into leaders and equipping them to be successful, I believe I can have a much greater impact than if I focused on doing everything myself. I believe this is the way to create real and lasting change. I am only one person with one set of gifts. However, when I can use that time and gifts to help others use theirs to the best of their abilities, the impact is multiplied in an incredible way. What is even better is that this multiplying effect does not have to stop there. We know it did not with the disciples. As Jesus had instructed them to do, they took what he had given them and began to equip others. The same can happen now – we can equip others in such a way that they are eager to equip and raise up other leaders. This is my hope in Nicaragua; that those I have had the opportunity to build into look for opportunities to equip others. Instead of the mission ending when I one day leave Nicaragua, it will only be the beginning.
Are you as a leader creating an ending or a beginning, a blip on the radar or lasting change? What if the answer is less about you and more about who you are equipping? Food for thought.
– James Belt