As a pastor, I’m learning that fully empowering leaders while also working to ensure leaders are accountable within that empowerment is incredibly fruitful. Without full empowerment our leaders can feel stifled, unreleased, and lack confidence. But without full accountability a Senior Leader can feel uncertain and at times anxious that the area or task won’t be led and outworked well. So for best results, empowerment and accountability need to go hand in hand.

ACCOUNTABILITY requires work.
I have found that in order to ensure a leader is kept accountable within their area of responsibility, I have to be clear in my communication of my expectations from the very beginning. If I don’t spend the time communicating what I would like to see, then my expectations are unclear and my ability to hold someone accountable is undermined. I cannot hold someone accountable for something that I have not been clear about!

EMPOWERMENT requires risk.
As a Senior Leader, you have given your all and sometimes the church is like your “baby” and you can’t bear the thought of someone messing it up! But empowerment requires a trust that we truly are “the body of Christ” and that the person you are releasing is going to bring something amazing to the church, something that you can’t bring!

EMPOWERMENT with ACCOUNTABILITY requires us as leaders to be okay with healthy confrontation!
I’ve found the temptation as a leader is to fully empower someone and then get frustrated if a leader doesn’t meet our expectations, resulting in a few ripple effect scenarios, such as:

  • Shying away from releasing that leader in the future
  • Taking back the responsibility ourselves
  • Giving the responsibility to another more immediately capable leader who is already loaded up with leadership responsibility

When there is an issue that needs addressing rather than acting out of frustration, the better thing to do is to talk to the leader and address the issue. Often the only thing holding us back from addressing the issue is usually fear, and fear is not a good captain. If we are afraid to address issues as leaders then we are allowing fear to lead our churches. The fruit of fear is not growth or faith!

When we address issues with love, confidence, clarity and encouragement, we are truly loving the leaders in our care and truly believing in their capacity and God-given gifts. It is in lovingly addressing issues that we build a healthy church.

I have found that this doesn’t come naturally to me in my leadership journey, as I often just want everyone to feel a huge big hug around me! But I am only a ‘leader in title,’ if I am not leading the people in my care into greater leadership themselves, which requires accountability and occasionally correction.

Here are some practical things I do before having ‘tough’ conversations:

  • Pray Beforehand – Always pray for the person, pray for clarity in your words, pray for the Holy Spirit to bring clarity to the person and that the church would grow because of the meeting.
  • Be Honest – People are smart. Often they just haven’t yet seen the bigger picture that you see, so be honest and explain how the ‘issue’ is affecting the bigger picture. Always be focusing on ‘people’ and God.
  • Be Understanding Yet Strong – Show understanding of the challenge to receive what you’re saying, but hold your ground in what you’re saying and the result you need as a leader.

My prayer is that as leaders we would continue to grow in courage and wisdom as we lead the incredible people God has entrusted to us in our teams and churches.

C3 Brooklyn, Lead Pastor