Many people in our churches are heading toward burnout in the areas they serve, but they still feel like no one has invited them to do anything challenging, exciting, or creative for the sake of the world. Their passion meter is low while their frustration meter is high. What if, instead, churches trained and released people back into the vocations, careers, and ideas they already have? We can make inroads to join them in their neighborhoods and in their relationships to utilize the creativity they already possess to bless the world. If we dig a little, we usually find incredible dreams and ideas for impacting people.
In Everyone’s a Genius, his latest release in the Leadership Network NEXT/Harper Collins Christian Publishing Book Series, Pastor Alan Briggs explains his belief that church leaders need to recognize and empower the gifts in others.
The following is an excerpt from Everyone’s a Genius:
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with a shovel in my hand. I dreamed of digging up an ancient city or dinosaur bones. I even tried to dig and get to China. One day I learned about gold at school. After the bell rang I came home and started to excavate. My shovel became my tool. A few days later I finally found some. From the hard Virginia clay, I unearthed a chunk of (fool’s) gold. After digging around it and lifting it out with all my might, I ran to show my mom the treasure. She told me it wasn’t real. Obviously, she was no prospector.
Christian leaders wield a shovel. We must become archaeologists seeking to uncover the precious gifts buried below the surface in those around us. Sometimes the ground is hard and requires a pickax to start to unearth the shimmer of something beautiful inside others. It can be hard, slow work, but it’s worth it. As church leaders, we often become so focused on dictating things to our people that we don’t take time to unearth and uncover their unique fingerprint and creative makeup. There is a space inside all of us where the image of the Creator rises to the surface. Sometimes we do things both naturally and skillfully, and it even blows us away.
One year a winsome couple went through a learning track I led. When we started the journey, they were considering leaving their church, joining a church start-up, or launching into global missions. The husband seemed antsy, ready to delve into a new avenue to serve God. After a few sessions, they began to invite people to their home for lunch. Many of our young single leaders were more than happy to consume their homemade cuisine. The group would spend hours in their home with their family, eating and talking about the ups and downs of life. One snowy Saturday my family joined the group for some hot soup next to a fire as we consumed their amazing hospitality. During their commissioning time, we all recounted stories of moments in their home. For the previous ten months they had cracked open their lives and invited us in.
God used this time to shift their trajectory from what they wanted to be doing toward what they were already doing effectively. We clearly communicated to them: this hospitality counts as ministry! You don’t have to do anything else. Just keep doing what you’re doing!
How many people around us are just like this couple? How many people are aspiring to find an area of greater impact while they are already making a big impact?
If you are a Christian leader, you need to function as a creative spy and a human archaeologist. We should constantly be following the trail of creativity in others and affirming what we find in them. The fourth chapter of Ephesians talks about some crucial but different wirings of Christian leaders. Apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding, and teaching wirings are not just for the sake of infusing those in the church; they are also for recognizing and equipping others to function in these ways. We are “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers, said, “At the top of the intelligence hierarchy is not the genius but the genius-maker.” The true work of ministry is not found in developing our gifts but in developing the gifts of those around us. Multiplication cannot truly happen until we are recognizing, validating, and equipping others. A mature body of Christ will impact families, neighborhoods, cities, and the world. The church also cannot grow into maturity until we take responsibility for recognizing and equipping others.
Look for the genius in others.