In my early years as a cynical and brash preacher I relished the sting of the bumper sticker which boasted, Lead, follow, or get out of the way. The message of course was a bold call for the bum-fussler(s) blocking church progress to either get with the program or else let me lead and he/she/they move to the rear. It was a strong, stern message of power coupled with vision.....I thought. Just to recite it excited the take-charge guy within me!
As God grew me down I have practiced that line so much better as the secret to it's call is really to get out of the way. That's what John the Baptist did when Jesus approached. That's what I try to do to be an effective leader at Memorial. I try to calculate how to best get out of the way: out of His way, out of the members' way, out of progresses' way.
Now in my 30th year we are having Jason Thornton and Bobby Smith (both staffers) preach once a quarter. Others must increase and I must decrease. Gradually, these and others will be in the pulpit more. I intend to be present cheering them on. Getting out of the way doesn't seem to be natural. I feel weird sitting there while a young fellow does the preaching. I'm doing nothing...it seems.
Yet, getting out of the way is such good leadership. It let's God and His people continue the flexibility to be current, to try the new, to experience uncharted courses which would also be good for developing missionaries out of our kids and training reckless young minds to exert their energy inside the halls of kingdom living. Oh, Lord willing, I'm far from being put out to pasture. I'm only 59. But we are planning ahead for the future when I hit 85 and they have had enough of me.
We have many mottos which produce effectively at Memorial Drive. A great one is, A Place To Start Life Over. Another one we try to practice everyday is, Get Out of the Way.