By Brent Storms
When I started playing soccer, it was hard to find shin guards that didn’t come up past my knees. I didn’t get very good until about the time my voice changed. I played three years on the varsity team in high school (we were terrible) and four years in college (we were pretty good). I stopped playing in adult leagues a few years ago when most games ended with an injury of some kind.
I’ve always been a forward, an offensive player. Of course, every forward loves to score goals, and I’m no exception. But there’s something else I’ve always loved more—giving an assist. For me, there is no better feeling than seeing a teammate making a run on the far side of the field, and threading a perfect pass to him through a wall of defenders so he can boot it, without breaking stride, into the back of the net.
I love to score. I enjoy helping others score even more.
In my experience, there is no better feeling than doing my part to set someone else up to succeed so the team wins. That’s how I view my role as a leader in ministry.
The apostle Paul writes, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11, 12).
Andy Stanley writes, “Leadership is not always about getting things done ‘right.’ Leadership is about getting things done through other people.”
When I planted a church in the Boston area in 1999, I hadn’t yet become a very good leader. I was 26 years old and still learning my way. I spent too much time and energy doing and not enough time leading. For instance, I preached 50 out of 52 Sundays for the first few years, in spite of the fact we had a better communicator than me on our staff.
God worked through our team and enabled us to start a very healthy church, but it could have been much better (and easier!) had I focused on giving assists to others instead of trying to do it all myself.
For the past eight years I’ve been enjoying my leadership role with Orchard Group. I exercise leadership by giving assists to church planters. We find entrepreneurial Christian leaders, help them secure funding from generous partners, provide the services they need, and coach them as they start growing churches. We try to create a context that allows them to succeed so the whole team (God’s kingdom) wins.
I’m certain this doesn’t qualify as a definitive explanation of leadership, but it’s the one that works best for me: I pass. Others score. The team wins.
Brent Storms serves as president and CEO of Orchard Group, New York, New York.