Making Ourselves Dispensable

Kara Powell | Aug 18, 2009

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I’m thoroughly enjoying and being stretched by The Three Tasks of Leadership: Worldly Wisdom for Pastoral Leaders, a book written by Fuller faculty and leaders in honor of the transformative leadership principles of Max De Pree, former chair and CEO of Herman Miller and close friend of Fuller Seminary.

In one chapter Jim Collins, the famous author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, is quoted as defining greatness in a church through 3 characteristics:

  1. Superior performance relative to its mission in the world
  2. A distinctive impact on its community
  3. Endurance.

Making an impact over a long enough time so that it’s not dependent on the personality of one leader. It’s #3 I want to focus on. As leaders, are we building up systems and people that are so strong and resilient that they are not dependent upon us? In the months after I left my last church, friends at that church would periodically share stories about how the ministry was struggling. A small part of me was secretly glad. Their challenges after I left validated how much they needed me. I had it all reversed. The real test of leadership is whether or not your team thrives if God calls you to a different position, or even simply when you’'re on vacation or a ministry trip.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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