This post is part of a series on some of the key aspects of the leadership culture we are seeking to create at The Well. These are the concepts and ideas that we have found help guide us and lead us towards being an adaptive and creative community that is able to push the bounds of what it means to be the church while still having a sense of organization and structure. This series of statements is some of what we’ve learned along the way and is still a work in progress. But, I share them here in the hopes that our experience will help others and also with the hopes of learning from what you have learned along the way as well.

#1 – Leadership/Decision-Making power isn’t defined by position, but rather by gifting, experience and expertise.

We demonstrate trust by giving leaders the freedom to lead in their area of giftedness. When we are faced with a decision, the decision itself decides who should be given the power to act and decide. When we say that the “decision itself decides” we mean that we look at the decision to be made and we let it guide us in “telling” us who should take the lead. Leadership positions in and of themselves do not posses power. Rather the power is passed around to the person most gifted, qualified and equipped to lead the decision.

One thing this means is that it is quite possible that the person who should lead the decision is not a formal member of the leadership team and we would then invite that person into the team short-term to guide that decision.

-> See the chapter on Power and Leadership in Organic Community by Joe Myers. In this chapter, he uses the term “the project holds the power” to describe what I described above. (Basically what I am saying is, I’ve completely stolen this first point from him).  In fact, I am deeply indebted to two personal mentors with all that follows.  Joe has done a lot of work with our team over the years.  Also, Ken Callahan (author of this excellent book) has also been a very important mentor to me as well.

#2 – We must work hard to recognize our strengths and invite people to serve mainly out of those. In contrast, we work hard to recognize our own weaknesses and give up our need to be good at everything.

Ephesians 4 talks about how some were called to be prophets, apostles, teachers, evangelists and pastors and that these leadership gifts are meant to build up the body of Christ and equip others for the work of ministry. We therefore seek to understand our primary gifting and calling and serve in those areas where we are most gifted to lead. We don’t call people or ourselves to some general leadership role rather we invite them to lead out of who they are.

Here are some assessments that we’ve found as helpful as we’ve navigated this:

  • PRO-Development from TAI Incorporated ( – This assessment isn’t very well known but it is excellent and this organization works with church leadership teams. I know the guys so let me know if you are interested in getting in touch with them.
  • APEST from Alan Hirsch (
  • Belbin (

If we are serving out of our giftedness, we learn to recognize our weaknesses and be willing to let others take the lead in those area. No leader is good at everything and we need to have the humility to admit when we are not the best person qualified to lead some aspect of the mission.

Some of the best leadership advice I ever received from my father is around this issue. I remember recently watching as three pastors, who were each 20+ years into service at their churches went through horrible endings with the churches they had served for so long. I asked my dad, “Is it inevitable that I’ll end up that way in 20 years?” What he said back has affected me in profound ways. He said that if I was unable to admit where my weaknesses were, and get people around me who could lead well in those areas, then yes, that would be me. Each of these pastors were very gifted people.  But they were, like most of us, great at one or two things. But their ego did not allow them to admit that they weren’t as gifted in other ways and find someone else to help.

For example, a pastor may be a great teacher and communicator but not very good at being a visionary leader. The expectation in our culture says that a pastor should be good at everything. Because of this, this pastor will work as hard as he can to prove that he really is a good visionary leader. But, its quite possible that what this pastor should really do is concentrate on being the best possible communicator that he can be and give up trying to be the main visionary.  Instead, find another person or group of people who can think about the big picture and give them freedom to flourish.  Of course, this is hard to do because it means we have to admit we’re not good at something.

Now we don’t ignore our weaknesses, but we shouldn’t spend our lives trying to be something that we are not. This serves no one (except for maybe our own egos – and in the end, it doesn’t even serve those because where we end up is not good).

Part II on Decision Making and Expecting Change comes tomorrow.