Quick, what’s the imperative in 2 Timothy 2:2? If you said multiply, go to the back of the class. The imperative is ENTRUST. To entrust means to take something of value and commit it to another’s charge.
Big problems surface when the leadership culture of an organization begins to shift from entrusting to protecting. Fear slowly seeps in. People quit growing, striving, and sacrificing toward a compelling vision. Good leaders, people with an apostolic or entrepreneurial spirit, naturally look for other space to create and innovate. Prophets who have important things to speak into the organization begin to be silenced. Shepherds quit guiding people toward a noble goal – the motto becomes “keep everyone from harm.” Alignment morphs into compliance.
Entrusting entails risk. When I entrust money to a broker, I might lose some or all of it. When I entrust my car keys to someone, it might get scratched, wrecked or stolen. When I entrust myself to others, I might get hurt. Someday I may have the great privilege of entrusting my daughter to another man. The process of genuinely entrusting anything of value to someone else means that I lose a great deal of control over the future outcome of that item.
That’s why biblical Christianity is such a risky endeavor. Jesus entrusted 11 young men on a hillside with the entire future of the family business. It wasn’t capricious. He invested time inculcating values, vision, heart and strategy. Then he gave them the keys and let them drive. He showed them the Way. His way included Modeling, Assisting, Watching, then Leaving.
For the past 12 years my wife and I lived overseas. Year after year we watched 19-23 year old students from a dozen different countries launch spiritual movements on campuses throughout Asia. We never had enough people – enough leaders. So, we were forced into a wonderful situation. We could choose to entrust these young go-getters with an entire campus (or city, or sometimes a regional role such as finance manager where they were in charge of lots of money), or we could play it safe (“Sir, please lower your voice, step away from the leadership role and no one gets hurt.”) We could maintain the illusion of control, but the mission wouldn’t move forward.
The role of senior leadership always entails creating S P A C E for the next generation. By senior leadership, I am not just referring to old people over 45:-) The next generation needs to lead something risky today, or they will never be ready to lead a larger effort tomorrow. If left uncorrected, this lack of perceived readiness introduces a high level of doubt into the institution. Doubt is the opposite of trust. No trust, no entrusting.
Ask: Can I name five specific times that I’ve risked entrusting something of value to someone else in recent weeks?