The Call to Engage, Equip, Empower and Encourage
By Heber Ticas, GCI pastor and Superintendent of Latin America
It was a daunting Sunday afternoon. My wife and I were exhausted from the demands and responsibilities of a growing congregation. As a bi-vocational pastor with a demanding “tent-building” job, it was tough to find time to get everything done. I vividly remember sitting on our deck venting about the enormous task ahead of us. While venting, I recalled the scene when the pastor whom I had trained under stood up before the congregation voicing his frustration about not having enough help around him. I remembered thinking, he did have help, he just didn’t ask for it or offer opportunity to participate. I recalled musing that I was available and would have done more if given the opportunity.
My wife and I were feeling the same level of frustration as my former pastor. As we talked, I recalled an exercise from a regional conference on “Win, Build, Equip and Multiply.” The exercise required us to rate the weakest part of our ministry with the intent of bringing attention to a healthy balance. It may not surprise you to hear “Equip” was weakest part of my ministry.
Looking back, I now clearly understand that the Holy Spirit was at work in my life bringing me to a place of health as a pastor. He had already placed the pieces in his church for the healthy balance that we needed. After all, it is his church. If I was to lead the congregation through the renewal process we were starting to experience, I needed to become a leader of leaders. I needed to understand the importance of giving away ministry from a place of health, rather than from a place of frustration and discouragement. I needed to surround myself with a healthy team. In order to achieve this, I first needed to surrender my weariness and all self-preservation to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
I could not agree more with Equipper editor, Rick Shallenberger, in his introductory article last month where he states that “healthy church begins with healthy leadership.” I experienced that reality first hand. In GCI we believe that healthy ministry is Team-based Pastor-led. What does it look like to be pastor led? What does a profile of leaders of leaders look like? A healthy pastor engages, equips, empowers and encourages others. This month we will give a quick overview of these four areas, and next month we will expand on each one.
Engage—as leaders we must be sensitive to the work and calling of the Spirit in the life of others. As we recognize the gifting in others and we acknowledge the needs of the ministry, we intentionally invite others in and give them opportunity for participation. Let’s acknowledge we sometimes (often) struggle with giving ministry away, and with leader readiness; however, we must be willing to engage the journey.
Equip—one of the most frustrating things for leaders in the making is to be invited to lead without the proper training. A healthy pastor understands that one of his/her main responsibilities is to develop and multiply healthy leaders. Developing a healthy leader requires intentionality and recognizing the difference between a ministry worker and one that leads others. As healthy pastors, we acknowledge that equipping leaders is of high priority. Next month’s Equipper will have an article on “Developing Others.”
Empower—a healthy pastor does not engage and equip others only to have them sit on the sidelines. He/she creates spaces for leaders to step into leadership roles. He/she commissions them before the body for recognition and a healthy charge.
Encourage—ministry in isolation is not healthy ministry. A healthy pastor leads a group of men and women who are for each other and who lift each other up throughout the difficult journey of ministry. A healthy pastor will call up, affirm and engage ministry leaders through both the good times and the difficult times of ministry. A leader of leaders will recognize when to lead with strategies, support and challenge but will also recognize when to pastor and encourage a ministry leader.
My leadership teams have changed throughout the years. My present leadership teams include some who have journeyed with me from day one, and some who were in their early teens when our renewal process began. I recently needed to restructure our youth ministry because the youth leader asked for time away from ministry to deal with life. Looking around, I saw that the Holy Spirit had already supplied the answer as I recognized a team of three young people (Stephanie 21, Chris 18 and Cristian 20) to lead the ministry. These young leaders in the making will need high support from myself and from other mentors – support that includes continued engagement, empowerment, equipping and encouragement.
I praise the Holy Spirit for providing our congregations and our denomination with gifted individuals and with a new generation of leaders who are willing to make the needed sacrifices to participate with Jesus’ everyday mission to the world and in his church. I pray that the Lord continues to tug at our hearts and bring us clarity in those areas where we need to grow as leaders of leaders.