Why leaders can sometimes be better handymen than team members

This isn't always the case, but I've noticed it often enough to be baffled by it.

As a leader, there are many times when a team member will come to me with a problem and I find that I am able to solve it.

Weirdly this happens in areas where I do not consider myself to be especially skilled: fixing mechanisms in roll-up banners, budgeting, plumbing, solving a last minute scheduling drama.

I often solve the problem and feel secretly chuffed about how awesome I am. And then I feel like a fraud. Something's not right. I'm not that awesome at this. So what's going on here?

I think the reason is that as the leader, I'm often more invested in the solution than the team member:

  • I'm ultimately responsible for the budget and so don't want to pay for a new banner.
  • I see the value of this event for the big picture and so am very invested in it coming off well.

And this extra incentive drives me to try just that little harder to fix something. It's not that I'm actually a better handyman. I'm just more desperate.

This observation provides a fresh angle in on delegation and empowerment. The goal of leadership development and delegation is to build a degree of ownership that drives my team members to care about the outcome as much as I do and so go that extra step to keep things on track.

If I can help my team members feel the pressure to manage our financial resources well, so that we can stretch to put on a new staff member, or not be hobbled down the track by a budget in deficit, then they will more likely work hard to keep costs down.

If I can help them really see how crucial this event is for the momentum of the ministry, then they will push hard to make it work.

Cool huh?

And that's why I need to resist the urge to be the mighty Mikey handman. Because if I Bob The Builder every problem that comes my way, I miss out on opportunity to build ownership among my team, for the sake of a little ego boost.

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The National Christian Reflections Pop-up Blog Tour

Ever wanted to hear Mikey Lynch carry out in person those Christian reflections that have made his blog the most popular resource on the Geneva Push website?
Imagine a lo-fi conference you actually want to go to: sitting in a comfortable room in your home city, with some tasty food, fresh coffee and heaps of practical and provocative content.
Keep an ear out, as special guests will also be contributing to various blog tour events in 2016.
The Blog Tour provides a unique community and training experience for engaged, ministry-minded Christians, as well as pastors, ministry and elders, that is memorable, fun and deeply stimulating.
It also doubles as a fund-raising event for Mikey's work on campus, as all profits go towards his mission support.

Rory Shiner, from Providence Church (WA) says:

"I've been meaning to write a blog post called: "Why the Perth Blog Tour night was the best ministry encouragement night I've been to in a very long time." I think a few things (venue, vibe, material) were in it's favour, but in particular the seamless moving from pragmatics to principles to theology to culture etc. I think we have too many "I've been ask to talk about (e.g.) time management so I am going to spend most of the time giving a generic biblical theology and then run out of time to say anything about the advertised topic). It was a model of moving between stuff seamlessly and engagingly.
Mikey Lynch (Director of Hobart campus ministry, and a founding director of Geneva Push) will be providing juicy, thought-provoking material across the following topics:
  • Evangelism
  • Preaching
  • Leadership
  • Productivity
  • Cultural engagement
  • Theology
Choose your preferred topics upon registration to help shape the night's content.

This year there will be two kinds of events running (see below for more information about cities near you):
Feast ($45 plus Eventbrite booking fee): includes a delicious dinner and 3 sessions worth of meaty content.
Coffee break ($25 plus Eventbrite booking fee): includes premium hot beverages and tasty dessert snacks, 1 session and Q&A.
All profits will go towards Mikey's mission work with AFES.

The roadshow that is the National Christian Reflections Pop-Up Blog Tour will be trundling into a town near you...



Thursday, 28th Jan (7:30-9:30pm).
Coffee Break ($25)
Wellspring Anglican Church loft, Sandy Bay.

Thursday 9th June (5:30-9:30pm)
Feast ($45)
Wellspring Anglican Church loft, Sandy Bay.



Watch this space for details.


Also featuring Rory Shiner, pastor of Providence Church.
Monday, 9th May (9am-3pm).
Topic: The Productive Pastor
Feast ($45)
Venue TBA


Also featuring Luke, founder of FOCUS, Hobart and Network Team Leader of The Vision 100 Network.
Tuesday, 7th June (5:30-9:30pm).
Feast ($45)
Venue TBA.


Monday 7th November (5:30-9:30pm).
Feast ($45)
Venue: Mentone Baptist Church building, 36 Harpley St, Cheltenham

More about Mikey

Mikey graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Arts in 2002. In 2000 he became one of the founding leaders of Crossroads Presbyterian Church where he was the lead pastor for 7 years from 2003.
Mikey now works as the Campus Director of the University Fellowship of Christians, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Mikey is the chairman of The Vision 100 Network (Tasmania) and a founding director of Geneva Push (national) - both church planting networks. He is also the network coordinator of the Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) in Tasmania and a chaplain at Jane Franklin Hall.
Mikey's ministry has focused on preaching to unchurched uni students and graduates. He is also passionate about identifying and developing future Christian leaders. Mikey is married to Nikki and is the father of Xavier, Esther and Toby. He loves cooking, fishing, reading and has recently taken up rollerblading again.

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Why the argument from silence about the NT teaching on work doesn’t work

A common line that gets thrown around is: "The New Testament hardly says anything about work". From this it is concluded that work should be relatively unimportant for the Christian. There are explicit commands about working to provide for ourselves, not be a burden on others, give to the poor and support gospel ministry. But that's about it.

Of course Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 contain teaching about how slaves are to serve their masters. However, it is rightly observed that this is a very unique class of 'work'—if it is helpful to think of it in that category at all. Rather, the work of a slave is really the life circumstances of a slave—listed alongside marriage, age, gender and ethnicity, not alongside farming and tax collecting. To apply these texts directly and generally to all Christians is not to make the most direct application. We need to consider why such instructions are only explicitly applied to slaves, and we have no similar passage for general Christians in other forms of employment.

So should the biblically faithful Christian only be concerned about their paid employment in so far as it makes it possible for them to provide for themselves and give to the poor and to gospel ministry?

The problem with this whole train of thought is at least twofold:

1.  It begs the question

Almost everyone in this discussion is begging the question by framing the whole discussion around 'what does the Bible say about Christians and work'?

We shouldn't assume that the category of 'work'—as opposed to leisure, volunteering, hobbies, ministry and so on—is the best biblical caregory. Did the people in ancient agrarian societies think of work-leisure-rest in the way modern, post-industrial Christians do? I don't think there's much evidence that they did.

As a result, trying to group together our biblical information around word groups related to employment or 'work' is far too narrow.

For a farmer, work is all caught up in their leisure and home and family and role in society—how much more for a slave!

Perhaps better to ask: "What does the Bible have to say about how we should conduct ourselves in our lives?" For this is true for work and play, rest and family, hobbies and ministry.

2. Argument from silence

It is risky to make too much of what the Bible doesn't say. We have no record of the Apostle Paul laughing or playing music or writing strategic plans. That doesn't mean he didn't do these things. Nor does it mean that therefore the emphasis of the New Testament is that we should not bother with these things. It's just means that in the descriptions of the Apostle Paul we cannot find strong explicit ground for these things.

The lack of explicit teaching in the New Testament around the value of medical research or political service does not necessarily say thing one way or the other about their value.

At the very most, it shows us that these things as distinct things are not explicit priorities for the New Testament. To argue that playing music or laughing should be a major, focal concern for the Christian would be a hard case to make.

Of course one point 1 (above) is taken into account, the Bible actually says a lot more about these things than we might think by a narrow investigation of words related to work and employment. As an outworking of the Golden Rule and Great Commandments there is much that motivates us to diligently love our neighbours in a whole range of ways, including through our jobs.

Beyond this, the argument from silence can massively neglect the way in which the 39 books of the Old Testament serve as an assumed background to the much smaller 27 books of the New Testament.

Sometimes it seems that when it comes to work, some Christians work off a kind of 'regulative principle hermeneutic': unless it is explicitly taught in the New Testament, it is not relevant. This is a thin way to reach our Bibles.

Rather, the broad sweep of realities that the Old Testament builds up for us informs the way in which we understand the smaller number of texts we find in the New Testament. And so Genesis and Ecclesiastes, for example, both inform how we live out our godly lives as Christians—including our work.

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