John Maxwell wrote a leadership classic in 1998 that has since sold millions and instructed at least as many. In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he covers the basic truths about leadership and influence. Maxwell was a church pastor before he became a best-selling author and noted speaker and his leadership laws are played out in local congregations every week and every day. Epworth has seen a number of them on display this week.
John Maxwell places the Law of Empowerment as number twelve in his list, but this week it has been number one in my mind. Interestingly, he opens his chapter on the power of empowering others with a “how-not-to” story. His example is that of Henry Ford who, after changing the landscape and culture of America with his mass-produced Model T car, prohibited anyone from taking the lead to create a second option or upgrade. He stifled anyone from asking, “Where Next?” He permitted no one to even consider, “What Now?” It was nearly twenty years before the Ford Motor Company offered the Model A. The reason was that its leader did not empower others to do that which they were already great - designing and assembling great cars.
I can testify that Epworth has done the opposite. Debra Johnson is our volunteer layperson who helps vision and carry out our ministry with Children and Families. We call it Family1+ or Orange. Debra, along with Kelley Conkle and Frances Phillips, have pushed the ability to choose direction, design amazing moments and lead precious children to some of the world’s greatest VBS Workers ever. They are ours. Each night this week, they have been partnering with families of all sizes and shapes to shine the light of Jesus into the lives of children! That is what we do.
Maxwell wrote, “The people’s capacity to achieve is determined by their leader’s ability to empower.” This is directly from the story of Jesus. From day one the church has received the power and permission of God to go and serve and lead. Matthew 10 says, “Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority...” We take that to include authority over crafts, over 3-year olds, over menus, over skits, over experiments, over music and everything in between.
So if it looks like Kelley, Debra and Frances are having fun this week, remember it is because they are leading by empowering. May we all have that kind of fun and touch as many lives.
Grace and Peace, Scott