Open-Handed Leadership


Give away as much authority as possible if you want your church to grow. If you hold on to all the influence, your church will get stuck.

The longer you lead in any one organization, the more difficult it is to let go. That’s natural. You’ve invested more so there is more to protect. It’s not unlike the difference between the meager bank account of a young adult just moving out for the first time, with all the risks they are willing to take, and a 65-year-old married couple’s life savings. You handle the money differently.

In leadership, however, it’s important to be very open-handed with your leadership. Continue to take risks and give away as much authority as possible if you want your church to grow. If you hold on to all the influence, your church will get stuck.

Here are “2 Rules” to follow:

1) Stop Protecting

Protecting comes naturally to good leaders. A good shepherd protects his or her flock. Good parents protect their kids. But as a leader, it’s important not to allow this nature to spill over into the arenas of responsibility, authority, decision-making and influence.

I’m not suggesting you give away the farm, but do open your hand.

We protect out of insecurity and fear. We give from strength and courage. Churches always benefit from the latter of the two. What are you holding onto that you may need to hand off to someone else?

This past year we made one of the best decisions as a leadership team. We invited Jason Berry to become the Associate XP working closely beside me. He is not merely a “helper.” Jason is carrying significant leadership weight, responsibility and authority. He’s doing a great job! At first it was tough to hand him the keys, now I love watching him fly!

2) Start Involving

All authority is transferred. No one holds ultimate true power and authority except God. He transferred it to His Son, and Jesus transferred it to His Disciples.

God transfers authority to the Son:

Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. John 17:1-2 

Jesus transfers that authority to the disciples:

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:1-2

This represents the foundational biblical model for this idea. There are many scriptures that add support to this way of thinking about leadership.

The following are very practical ways to express a more “open-handed” leadership that involves more people and helps to raise-up new leaders.

Think inclusive

Whenever possible invite more potential leaders into the process of ministry and leadership development, rather than fewer. Think movement for the many, not club for the few.

Share ideas

Be quick to pass on great ideas, helpful articles and books, tricks of the trade, insights, new trends and insider info. The more you give away, (lift the lids of your leaders), the more you raise your own leadership lid and the potential of your church.

Give information

Communication is key. All churches struggle here to a degree, but we can’t give up and say: “It’s the nature of the beast.” Dig in and communicate clearly, quickly and concisely.

Grant responsibility

What can you hand-off to other leaders? They might not do it as well as you, but you have other big picture things to do. Give any re-gained time to future thinking and praying, to development and making things better, not merely different.

Transfer Decision-making

Hand in hand with giving responsibility to others, transfer as much decision-making as reasonable and appropriate. It’s important to train these leaders and remain diligent in transferring the culture that makes your church unique.

You don’t have to start and master all this at once, but continue to take steps to more “open-handed” leadership.


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