Leadership, Replication, and Legacy

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence & having it last in your absence.

Frances Frei

I’ve been (back) in my role as Design Director at NewSpring Church for 2 years now. From a purely practial standpoint, the team I serve with has produced some great work in that span—a revitalized brand identity, a new website (a newer one is on deck), and better overall visuals, public spaces, interiors, processes and systems. I think it’s the best job ever. 

What we haven’t done well is replicate ourselves and train up people within our community to be better than we are at what we do. We run a lean team; everyone on board is extremely high-capacity and more than capable at doing their jobs. But when it comes to specialized roles, work, and projects, we suck at raising up people. None of us would argue that.

In the marketplace, there’s no competitive advantage for me (individually) to mentor others. Mentorship and investing in the next generation can help the bottomline for the company or organization, but unless I’m a partner or shareholder (or just a wildly generous nice guy) there’s no reason for me to take away from my work to help others become better at theirs. In fact, there’s the possibility that by doing so I’ll mentor myself out the door by giving my coworkers the tools they need to take my job. This is scarcity mentality at the core. Survival mode.

But I don’t work in the marketplace. I love working in the church, and we play by different rules. If I “aspire to oversee” an area of our church, I’m supposed to be able to teach. And if I’m a teacher, I have a very specific task:

And [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…

Ephesians 4:11–12

Equip. Work. Build. Equip to act, not to sit and watch. Equip the saints, not fill the seats. Help others grow in their gifting, not hoard my own. If leadership is about making others better, permanently, then I have some work to do. And it has absolutely nothing to do with design.