The “Replaceable” Leader - Introduction

Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians
According to Scripture, God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever. . . . Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place (27).
About a week ago I wrote a brief reflection about the humbling effects these last two months have had on my heart and life (particularly as a “leader”). If you’re interested, you can read that original post here. To make a long story short, for various personal/family reasons, I’ve had to take a giant step back from my pastoral work at New Life Church (particularly from “up-front” ministries like preaching and teaching). To make (heart-) matters worse, this change came about just two weeks before the launch of our new young adults ministry—re:Generātion—in which I was heavily invested.

As a result of stepping back, one point of particular frustration has been dealing with the stark realization that I am (despite my former and sadly persistent thoughts to the contrary) thoroughly replaceable. As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t mean replaceable in my relationships (as in being a husband, friend or family-member). I mean replaceable as a tool of the kingdom. To put it bluntly: God is about doing His work, and He’ll do it with just as much glory, power, and beauty with me as without me.

At the level of day-to-day life, what this means—if I’m really being honest—is that it’s been incredibly difficult to watch re:Generātion succeed without me. As shallow as that sounds (and, yes, not only does it sound shallow, it actually is shallow), it’s the truth. I want so badly to be a part of re:Generātion’s success (and not just any part but the chief part); not because of what I’ll add to it, but because of what it will add to me.

Reflecting on this frustration, a friend pointed me toward Philippians 1:18 where Paul, writing from prison about two divergent groups of traveling evangelists—those who “preach Christ from envy and rival . . . thinking to afflict my imprisonment” and those who preach Christ “from good will”—ended his report by telling his readers: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” In other words, what mattered most to Paul was the spread of the gospel: “that in every way . . . Christ is proclaimed.” His heart actually resonated with that report. His emotional investment lay in the glory of God through Christ, and not in his own reputation or advantage.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to commit six posts over the next week or so to reflecting on the oddly titled subject “How to Make Yourself a ‘Replaceable’ Leader.” Here’s a brief overview of what’s to come:
  1. Do your “best” work behind-the-scenes.
  2. Don’t just share the limelight; intentionally push others into it.
  3. Keep your heart in-check by being rigorously honest with other leaders about what’s really motivating you.
  4. Do ministry as worship, not as work.
  5. Concentrate on “duplicating yourself” not making yourself “unique.” (Realize, however, that really duplicating yourself will make you “unnecessary”.)
  6. Lead others by following Jesus. In other words, make Jesus irreplaceable, not yourself!

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