You want to stop working hard to please people?
Start equipping them. Then releasing them.
Michael Jordan famously learnt the key to great teamwork. Use your teammates. In the process, he won six rings* and became possibly the greatest basketball player of all time. So, why is the principle of equipping and releasing so important? And wherein lies its power?
The most important source of its power is that it comes straight from the life of Jesus. This is a man who preached to thousands. He was also surrounded by many who sought to use him, manipulate him, threaten him. Yet he kept a laser-like focus on his principle goal.
Equip the disciples.
He poured into them as much wisdom as he could in the three short years that they were with him. Yes, crowds listened to the Sermon on the Mount, but its principle audience was the Twelve.
Then there were the Three. Peter, James and John. They spent more alone time with Jesus than the others. They were his best mates. Especially Peter. He constantly spoke truth into their lives. He invested himself in equipping them with the message of the Kingdom. Even when they didn’t understand, he kept going.
And then there’s the 72. ‘Here’s the message, off you go and have some faith!’ A classic case of empowered releasing.
Second exhibit. 1 Corinthians 12. I won’t rehearse this one. You all know the passage and it doesn’t stand alone. We all have different gifts. We’re all essential to the vital functioning of the body. We’re a team.
Final exhibit. Ephesian 4.11-12a. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ . . .
The Ephesians passage functions as your job description. It states your purpose as a leader. To equip. Releasing then becomes a natural next step once equipping has taken place.
Train your people, then give them oxygen to go use the gifts they possess.
If you’re a people pleaser, a mind-set like this can work wonders. It takes the huge load off your shoulders, which is crushing you. Leadership is properly transferred to Christ, who is the Head of the Church, while your job is to equip your people to function as the healthy body.
When you don’t do this, you get in the way. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, how dazzling your preaching, how dearly loved you are by your church, you’re not doing the job you’ve been assigned. You’re leaving vast amounts of talent and potential sitting on the pews (chairs) while trying to do too much, please too many, and worst of all, you end up trying to do things you shouldn’t be doing.
Equipping and Releasing.
I rest my case.
*A ring is the term used in the NBA for an NBA championship. And yes, each team member receives an actual ring.