The following is a guest blog post by Steve Bezner, Senior Pastor of Houston Northwest Church. Steve is one of our 50+ speakers at the Exponential Regionals this fall:
The Pain of Gift Activation
Gift activation is a pain for leaders. But not for the reasons we tend to think.
Most leaders love the idea of finding the gifting of others within their organization and empowering them to use those gifts—as long as those gifts are not the same as their own.
For example: If my gifts are communication and strategy, I will probably have little issue releasing those with gifts of design or administration. Their gifts are complementary to mine, or perhaps (even better) make me look better.
But what about those in my organization who have a similar gifting as I do? If I am gifted in communication and strategy, what do I do with the other communicators and strategists? Are they forever relegated to minor league status? Or is there a way forward?
I believe that leaders must intentionally activate the gifts of everyone in their organization, but especially those who have similar gifting, for the precise reason that they will best understand how to activate those gifts.
Unfortunately, many leaders resist such activation, and, in the process, stall the Hero Making movement. In my assessment, there are three obstacles in the lives of most leaders preventing them from activating the gifts of those they are most able to help.
Ego is the enemy of gift activation, because ego encourages us to hold fast to the accolades our gifting brings. When I preach a good sermon or lead our church through a difficult season, it is encouraging to receive the compliments that go hand-in-hand with strong execution. I intuitively know that if I empower others to do the thing I do well, then I will lose those accolades.
Gift activation requires the surrounding of ego stroking to the higher value of multiplication. Gift activators recognize that the role of mentor/teacher will produce great ripple effects in the long-term. My ego tends to believe that my gift is meant primarily for my own benefit, while gift activation recognizes that my gift is intended for a purpose far beyond myself.
Experienced leaders often see and understand this, but how powerful would it be if hundreds of thousands of younger leaders understood this? Multiplication could move at a heretofore unprecedented clip in North America.
Excellence is important, but it can impede the process of gift activation. If I insist upon every individual I am mentoring reaching my level of expectation prior to activating his/her gift, then I am hindering progress. Experience is required for improvement. Everyone must have the opportunity to succeed and fail in big situations in order to grow as a leader. Often leaders who claim to be risk takers are actually overly cautious with those in their charge, refusing to give them opportunity, for fear of not meeting standards.
Don’t get me wrong, coaching and preparation are essential. Any good Hero Maker knows this, and will work consistently to prepare and improve those on the team. But there is no good substitute for standing and delivering. It is only in the crucible of experience that some lessons can be learned, and it is there that the best coaching can take place.
We must be willing to set our standards and trust those on team to shoot for them—an occasionally miss. This is how growth transpires.
Gift activation requires relationship. Once I have given the opportunity for someone on my team to step into their area of gifting, I must be willing to coach them towards improvement. This is why I am best suited to activate this who have a similar gifting to mine—because I will have the best idea of how to coach those sorts of gifts.
After Jesus sent out his disciples, he had them report back what they had seen and done. He listened in and then spoke into what he heard. It is not enough that we release those who are gifted. We must also actively continue to coach and raise them up towards the performance we believe is best.
Time is the most important resource leaders have, and most of them believe they do not have enough. Nevertheless, there is nothing more important a leader can do than encourage and coach the gifting of those within his/her circle.
If leaders can overcome the obstacles of ego, standards, and time, then they can take concrete steps towards becoming a Hero Maker in their own organization.
Special Invitation from Steve
Getting to Know Steve
Exponential asked our speakers to answer a few questions to help get to know them better. Check out some of Steve’s answers to the questions below:
If you were not doing what you are now doing vocationally, and you could pursue any other career, what would it be?
Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys or BBQ pitmaster (Doesn’t get more Texas than that!)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
What’s your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time?
Eat great BBQ and cook great food for my family and friends. (We’d love to try some!)
Other than the Bible, what’s the most impactful book you’ve ever read?
Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship
Join Steve and ten other speakers at the Houston regional conference!
Hero Maker Conferences
Hero Maker is the theme for Exponential 2018. The theme focuses on the shift from being the hero to coming alongside others for them to become the heroes in our church’s unfolding story. At each conference, we will unpack the 5 essential practices for leaders to multiply leaders: multiplication thinking, permission giving, disciple multiplying, gift activating, and kingdom building.
|5 Main Sessions||10+ Speakers||FREE Equipping Labs|
Other Regional Conference Locations
- Washington, DC: September 10-11
- Southern California: October 2-4
- Bay Area: October 22-23
- Houston: October 24-25
- Chicago: November 6-7
- New York City: December 5-6
To learn more and to register for any of the 2018 Hero Maker conferences, click here.