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If You’re Tired of Doing Everything Yourself As a Leader, Read This


by Carey Nieuwhof: Tired of doing everything yourself?

Most leaders are. And yet we feel we have to do it or it won’t get done right, or maybe it won’t get done at all. I’ve been there. I get it.

But the question is why? Why do so many leaders end up there?

Even worse, the vast majority of church leaders and even business owners never figure out how to solve that problem (and it IS solvable).

It’s one of the key reasons 85% of all churches never break the 200 attendance mark, and one of the main reasons most businesses stay small—despite the hopes and dreams of leaders.

What’s really troubling in the church world is that you’ll never reach the people you could reach if you don’t figure out how to solve that problem. People literally go unreached because church leaders feel they need to do everything themselves.

I know as our church grew from a handful of people to over 1200 today, one of the hardest journeys for me as a leader was learning how to let go.

But here’s the truth: if you won’t let go as a leader, your church will never grow.

Leaders, if you won’t let go, your church won’t grow.Click To Tweet

5 Reasons Leaders Don’t Let Go

My reasons for not letting go are probably similar to yours.

I felt responsible for everything that happened in the church
I didn’t want to let people down.
Our small congregation expected me to do everything.
Seminary trained me to do everything.
And—honestly—sometimes I arrogantly thought I could do things better.

The truth is you’ll never sustainably grow past 200 attenders if you insist on doing everything yourself.

And if you keep trying to do it as your church grows, it will probably break you. You’ll quit, burn out, or break down. It’s just too much for one person.

You’ll never sustainably grow past 200 attenders if you insist on doing everything yourself.Click To Tweet

Which is why even most growing churches stay small. They hit a lid and can’t get past it.

What’s true of churches is true of teams, departments, and ministries. It’s why sometimes you have a small student ministry in a larger church, or why the preschool won’t grow even when other ministry areas are.

If you’re the leader, you’re the lid. Plain and simple.

So how do you stop doing everything? How do you get out of that style of leadership?

If you’re the leader, you’re the lid.Click To Tweet

5 Keys To Letting Go So You Can Grow

I learned how to let go the hard way, but I’m really hoping you don’t have to.

On Tuesday, September 19th 2017 I release a brand new online course called “Breaking 200 Without Breaking You.” It’s all about the skills and strategies you and your team need to reach over 200 people at your church, something 85% of all churches never figure out how to do.

You can join the course waitlist here so you don’t miss out (and get some free bonuses).

I want to share a lesson with you I teach in the Breaking 200 course.

It’s the five progressions I made as a leader and the five progressions you’ll need to make as you let go.

In the course, I even show your team how to make this happen because, as you read this, you’ll imagine the resistance you’ll get to these ideas. The good news is you can take your team along for this journey, and they’ll be thankful you did.

I go into more detail in the course, but here’s the transition you need to make if you want your church or ministry to grow.

1. Stop Leading Everything

When you’re leading something, especially when it’s going well, it’s difficult to look around and take notice of the others who could lead.

When you encourage and release them to lead, they get to use their gifts and you see growth.

It’s the difference between leading the Bible study yourself in your home and reaching a dozen people or sending those people out to lead in their homes so that, together, you have dozens of leaders leading hundreds of people.

The first step is simply this: stop leading every ministry your church offers. Move others into places of leadership.

If you lead everything yourself, you’ll never lead much.

If you lead everything yourself, you’ll never lead much.Click To Tweet

2. Stop Controlling Everything

Leading is one thing; controlling is another.

Many leaders struggle with controlling tendencies. The reality is, you’re going to limit your reach if you have to have input on every decision and detail.

Even if you’re not leading everything, your desire to control things will limit the scope and effectiveness of your ministry.

Having a clear mission, vision and strategy will help you feel you don’t need to jump in all the time, and it will help your leaders know exactly what they’re released to do. That’s the power of clarity and an aligned team.

Poor leaders substitute control for clarity.

Poor leaders substitute control for clarity.Click To Tweet

3. Stop Initiating Everything

As you begin to release the need to lead and control every aspect of your ministry, you may still be tempted to hold on to the desire to initiate everything.

The problem is that initiating everything in your organization assumes you have all the best ideas. Which you don’t.

When you gather smart and passionate people, they’ll have great ideas. Harness those ideas in service of your mission and let them lead.

Initiating everything in your organization assume you have all the best ideas. Which you don’t.Click To Tweet

4. Stop Attending Everything

This shift is perhaps the hardest one to make. At least it was hard for me.

I didn’t make this shift until we were around three or four hundred in attendance.

I should have made it sooner.

It’s a defining moment for the church when the pastor no longer attends every event the church holds.

It’s also a sign that the church is finally embracing a mission bigger than one person.

But it’s a hard transition to make. The first time I didn’t go to an event at our church, I stayed at home and felt guilty all night long. It did get easier with practice though.

You’ll need to do this for practical reasons; you will have so much ministry taking place that it will be physically exhausting to attend it all.

Even as the senior leader who is passionate about the mission of the church and who cares deeply about reaching people, you can’t attend everything, because you also have a ministry to your family.

You have a responsibility for self-care. In order to be a healthy leader, you must allow yourself time to rest and to be refueled. You simply cannot do that while working eighty hours a week. It isn’t sustainable.

But more importantly, when you stop attending everything, you release people to be the church.

When the pastor stops attending every event the church has, you release people to be the church.Click To Tweet

While this is a tough shift for leaders to make, it can also be a difficult one for congregations.

There will be a season during which people are disappointed when you aren’t the one present at every event or leading every meeting.

Lead them through this season by providing clarity of the vision that’s before you and by releasing them to use the gifts God has given them.

If you can attend everything your ministry your church has, your church should have more ministry.Click To Tweet

5. Stop Knowing Everything

As your church grows, you will also need to stop knowing everything that’s going on at your church.

While the senior leader is ultimately responsible for everything in the organization, you simply can’t know every little detail. In all honesty, you shouldn’t even try.

When God is doing so many amazing things, one person shouldn’t be able to keep track of it all.

There are wonderful people at work in your organization doing incredible things. If you release them to do what they do best, you will get phenomenal results. Stay on top of the big issues, and you’ll be leading well.

As you become more comfortable releasing ministry, your ministry will grow beyond your personal reach. And that is how you will see your ministry fully realized.

As a leader once told me, if you need to know, you won’t grow.

If you need to know, you won’t grow.Click To Tweet

Some Help With Reaching More People

Breaking 200


If you want to break through the growth lids in your church, don’t miss out on the launch of Breaking 200 Without Breaking You next week.

The course provides strategies on how to tackle eight practical barriers (including a more nuanced and practical dive into everything I covered in this blog post) that keep churches from reaching more than 200 people. And it’s designed so I can walk your entire leadership team or elder board through the issues.

So whether your church is 50, 150 or 250 in attendance, the principles will help you gain the insight you need to break the barrier more than 85% of churches can’t break.

Join the wait list today and you’ll get a free bonus, plus you’ll be among the first to gain access to the course when it goes live.

What About You?

What are some challenges you face when it comes to doing everything yourself?

What’s helped you? Scroll down and leave a comment!

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