How Controlling Leaders Can Block Movement Growth

controlling leaders

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I see a problem. It’s disturbing my sleep. I wake up praying about it. Know what it is? It’s when Christian leaders don’t release their people to do the work of the ministry.

This issue bothers me because it can block the growth of Disciple Making Movements (DMMs). That must not happen! Leaders, we can not behave this way if we want to see God’s Kingdom spread rapidly through our regions.

It’s not easy to release people. I know. Huge issues arise in our hearts and heads.

Are they ready? Mature enough? What if they fail? What if they succeed (maybe even surpassing me)?

We must change. If we do not, we will block the work of God’s Spirit in and through us. The dreams we say we have, for thousands of people to come to know our Savior, will not become a reality.

Two Kinds of Leaders

As I coach and train around the world, I observe two kinds of leaders. Those who release and give away power, and those who are territorial and controlling. The ones who multiply, are those who’ve learned the joy of releasing others.

They do this freely and happily. These leaders don’t need the credit for fruit that comes and don’t care about the glory. Firmly believing in those they trained, they want to see them go far beyond them.

These leaders overcome their own insecurities. They’ve learned to trust God and people…even some people who don’t seem very mature.

A Big “Mistake”…or Was It?

You approached my staff! You should not talk to them without talking to me first!” this leader said angrily.

I was surprised. I’d had no idea that this person was “under” the control and authority of this leader and their organization. I knew it was honoring and good to communicate with someone’s leader if I was planning to offer help, coaching, or other resources. I agree with that. The fierceness of their anger shocked me though.

Don’t they trust their people to be able to say no? Does this leader decide for all the staff in their organization what they can and can not do?” I wondered.

I considered those I was training and discipling. A lot of sheep-stealing goes on in the region where I work.

I had lost a few people when they were offered support by other organizations. Lost is not the right word. They’d needed finances and chosen to move on. We are still in a relationship and I still enjoy investing in them when I get a chance.

It was painful when they made the decision to leave our organization. I loved them and had given much time to raise them up. If, however, I started to think that they were my disciples more than they were Jesus’ disciples, I was in trouble!

Even when it has been difficult, I try to let each person prayerfully make their own decisions. When asked, I’m happy to give input, but they are not my staff, or my disciples, or my trainees…they are God’s!

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

Luke 6:38 NLT.

Give Away More Than Money

We usually think about this verse in terms of money. The principle is true about anything in life. When we give away, it strangely increases us as well. Control kills. It limits how God can bless us.

1. Give away power.

Champion others and help them grow. You may feel that by controlling or restricting you are guiding their development. It isn’t true. Release, release, release. Let them fail. Allow them to dream and act upon those dreams.

2. Release people to make their own decisions.

In DMMs, we see that God can speak to each person in the group. We emphasize participatory Bible study rather than a preacher on a stage. Each disciple can hear from God through His Word. They can apply it as the Holy Spirit speaks. This same principle must be applied to how we lead. Trust people to listen to God and His direction. Don’t try to be a mediator who tells them what God is saying. That makes weak disciples who will not reproduce.

3. Trust the Holy Spirit.

We don’t need to play God in people’s lives. They have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide. “What if they hear Him wrong? What if they make a mistake?” we wonder. This could indeed happen. That isn’t the end of the world! In fact, that provides opportunity for vital growth and learning. The Holy Spirit is able to speak to people. Make room for God to be the One who directs, even when what they say is His direction doesn’t match what you are sensing from the Lord.

Also, trust the Holy Spirit to convict. I’ve heard leaders say, “I don’t want them to become proud. If I give them too much freedom, they will start to brag about how important they are. Their connections with big leaders will grow.

If you are their leader and see them acting in pride, gently correct. Don’t judge or predict they will be proud even before this happens! We must mentor, disciple and love. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to convict of sin.

4. Fight controlling tendencies and empower those you lead.

Some of us have more control-oriented personalities. Others are very carefree. Recognize this in yourself and be honest about it. If you are a highly detailed person, or someone with perfectionist tendencies, you will likely struggle with control issues.

You may carry wounds from childhood. Perhaps you weren’t affirmed by your parents much. These things can cause insecurity. It can make you fearful of others surpassing you in status. Be intentional. Seek help to find healing and grow. Don’t let your woundedness limit what God can do through you. He wants to transform you!

Fear Restricts – Love Believes

Fear restricts, love releases. If you love those you lead and train, you will release them. You’ll take risks of faith, believing in the Spirit of God within trainees to make wise choices.

Don’t give in to fear and the false belief that if you release them, your own ministry will not grow. The opposite is true. The more you release, the more multiplication you too will see.

Where do you struggle with releasing others? I’d love to know in the comments below or on the Dmms Frontier Missions Facebook Group.

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  1. Nathan Zziwa

    Great teaching I would love to know how to move forward with Disciples from addition to multplication

    1. Post

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