Second in Line.

One of my small group leaders is a fireman here in Colorado. We were hiking the Incline the other day and had a very interesting conversation. I was asking him about his job and how he liked doing what he did. We talked for a while and inevitably the conversation turned to huge fires and if they were actually as terrifying as they looked in the movies.

I never really got the answer I was looking for because he told me, “Well, it depends on the captain in charge.” I thought that was strange because a fire is big or not no matter who is in charge. Well, he proceeded to tell me there are two philosophies when it comes to fighting fires. The first is the captain gets on the nozzle of the hose and is the first one into the fire. Respectable. However, the captain can get so focused on putting out the fire, the rest of his team could be falling apart and he would never know it.

The next thought is the captain stands second in line on the hose. Still near the front, but also able to look around and direct his team more efficiently and affectively. In this scenario, the captain puts down the courage, bravado and potential glory of being in the front and elects to sit second in an effort to better coordinate his team. You see, a team operating at full capacity means everyone lives whereas an individual working at full capacity could mean your team is in trouble.

As leaders, there is this desire to stand on the front. We want to be the point guy and lead the charge. We think we can do it better then everyone else, and maybe we can. However, if we aren’t careful, we can get so focused on being the “leader” and doing everything our team could be falling to pieces behind us and we would never know.

I love the ministry model I am in right now because we make it a priority to train and equip other volunteers to do what we do. We talk all the time about empowering other people to lead. I have a whole team of volunteers who are excellent at what they do and they continue to blow my mind each and every Sunday. If I can train one of them to take my place or do something I’m doing, then the whole team wins.

I can stand on the front all day long and take on the fire. Or I can take a step back, put somebody else on the front, and lead a whole team to fight that fire.

Are you replacing yourself on the front, or are you so busy fighting fires your team is a wreck behind you?