I recently had the opportunity to share with a church leadership team the difference between leading and springboarding. Too often springboarding is used in place of leadership in churches and other organizations. If you have ever watched competitive pool diving, you know there are two diving apparatuses used.
One, the springboard has elasticity. It moves up and down as if toggled on a spring, giving the diver greater advantage for elevation off the dive. The diver walks to the pool end of the springboard and begins shifting his weight up and down engaging the springboard in a similar motion. Once the board is moving at the desired rate and height the diver pushes off with both feet leaping, as the board springs him into the air, he twists, turns and flips before landing in the water completing his dive. As spectators we do not know what is coming until the diver leaves the board, springing into action.
It is intriguing and just short of amazing to watch these experienced athletes and their springboard dives. It is not amazing or intriguing to watch as pastors and other leaders use a springboard approach in the guise of leadership.
To lead is to guide or to bring people along with you on the journey. Throughout history, be it organizational, military, or government, great leaders have achieved success and productivity bringing their people along, training them up, encouraging, equipping them for what is to come.
Can you imagine a military general recruiting people for a journey, but never equipping them for battle? How long would an army like this last? Not long enough to make it out of the first battle. Yet, this is what many leaders, pastors included, attempt, then wonder what went wrong.
If leadership is guiding, bringing people along with you, why do so many spring ideas and plans on people without warning or preparation? Example: In many churches, attendees do not know where the church is going, until the pastor announces on Sunday morning that a major change is happening and it is taking place this coming week.
People are in attendance each week in anticipation of seeing the church grow. They are (in most cases) desirous of seeing the church thrive, but they need to be led not thrown off the diving board unexpectedly. When we spring ideas on them and expect them to automatically, immediately adapt and accept, we are not leading. We might be forcing our own expectations, but not leading.
As leaders, we must be careful to bring our people along. Like a military organization, we must train and equip our people until they are ready for battle (change). Because we have thought it through or discussed it with our inner circle does not mean our congregation is ready. As an athlete prepares for years to compete at rising levels, we must put in our time bringing along those who are inexperienced in the nuances of moving our organization forward.
People will follow a leader into battles unknown. Unfortunately, many leaders leave their constituents in the dark. What changes need to take place in your life to become more of a leader and less spring-boarder?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.