5 Simple Ways to Empower People
Empowerment means simply to give someone the power or authority to do something. Jesus practiced empowerment:
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1 NIV)
Empowered people grow and thrive. Do they also make mistakes? Of course they do. But they learn. They progress. They become more engaged. God uses them in small ways at first, then bigger ways. Their enthusiasm becomes contagious!
You may pastor a wildly growing urban church or a small and slowly declining rural congregation (or in any of a hundred situations). In any case, won’t your work be more rewarding, your life a lot easier and your ministry more fulfilling if you have the kind of people I describe above working with you?
You can have those people if you learn how to create a culture of empowerment – and that’s not hard to do! You don’t need to be a leadership guru. No gimmicks or budget required!
Here are five ways any pastor can empower church and staff members.
1. Give Power through Relationship
Never underestimate the power of simply building relationships with people. It has the power to communicate care, warmth and belief in them. Sharing a little of your time and attention is sharing power.
2. Give Power through a Shared, Dynamic, Compelling Vision
Avoid the stagnation of a stale, “yellowed placard on the wall only” mission or vision statement. Instead, revisit your mission statement with your board and congregation periodically. Ensure your statements reflect a relevant, current and inspiring church vision. Then be sure to infuse all your programs and communications with it.
A clear and activated mission and or vision statements inspires involvement and innovative ideas! (Need to work on a vision statement? Get my Vision Tool here.)
3. Give Power through Invitation to Genuinely Participate
Let people know you are genuinely interested in their ideas, involvement, creativity and feedback. Then listen and respond. You will create an atmosphere in which people feel free to share their ideas.
4. Give Power by Providing Opportunities to Do
Sense God desiring to use someone in your congregation? Speak to them and let them know! Allow people to attempt and try new things. Relinquish control – so hard for some of us to do! Let them go and grow and yes, sometimes fail.
5. Give Power by Making It Safe to Fail
Did I mention that empowered people sometimes fail or fall short? Jesus empowered his 12 and they failed! So what did he do?
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:14-21a NIV)
Jesus viewed their failure as a teachable moment. No, he didn’t molly coddle the disciples. However, he ended by telling them exactly what would be required to fix the problem in the future and assured them that if they followed his instruction, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Wow, that’s the kind of leader (and pastor) that I want! The one who helps me get stronger, makes it safe for me to fail and keeps me energized to keep on growing.
That’s the kind of leadership your people want, too! Empower them! Who knows what God will do?