Managers vs Leaders: American Idol and The Voice

Churches need managers and leaders. But they need to know
that these are different roles with different expectations.

Not being a fan of reality shows, I was surprised that I had to stop and watch the first episode of “The Voice.” I say had to, because as I was flipping through the channels, I caught just a few comments from the coaches that resonated with me. With a nod to American Idol, Ceelo stated, “We’re not judges, we’re coaches.” For every singer picked from these blind auditions, they hear this message.  “I want you. I want you on my team. I have the resources to help you develop into something more than you currently are.” In addition, they have the confidence that their “first impression” look has no bearing on being “wanted”.

While both shows certainly feed the voyeuristic fever that is rampant among our culture, this was a refreshing change from the Simon Cowell years on “Idol”. Both shows are competitions, both narrow down their fields to one winner. However, there are some differences worth noting (beyond the absence of Simon).

On “Idol”, there is one winner. Everyone is critiqued and expected to manage their own self-improvement. Improve enough, please enough people, get enough votes from the viewers in the stands, and you get to continue to perform.

On “The Voice”, teams are being created. And they are being created with the specific intention of being coached, developed, and equipped so as to maximize their experience, gifts, talents, and passion.

Managers look for people who can perform. They certainly look for people with experience, gifts, talents and passion, but they generally look for people who are already equipped. They have needs and requirements that need to be filled, and they find the best person that is already equipped to do that.

Leaders look for people to develop. They see potential beyond the task, beyond the current experience and talent. Over the coming weeks on “The Voice”, the coaches will spend time working with their team members, helping them to advance their skills and experience, hoping that they will be able to achieve more than they ever have before.

Leaders are not intimidated by talent.  On “The Voice”, Coach Adam Levine describes his team by exclaiming that “they are all better than I am.” Along the way, Coaches on “The Voice” will introduce their team to others that will also help
them advance. Leaders do not see themselves as lone rangers. They provide
opportunities for their teams to become better, stronger, and healthier. They
introduce them to people, resources, and opportunities to become better

And there is the second chance. Two things happened on “The
Voice” that are indicative of Leadership. There were those that were not
selected that were certainly worthy of being selected. And then, leadership
emerged.  The Coaches admitted that they had made mistakes, and wanted to give some of the preceding participants a second chance.

Too many churches are dependent on the leadership work of other churches, rather than developing leaders in their own right.  Does your church develop leaders, or does it find them in the Christians who join from other churches? While there is truth in the “20/80 Rule” (20% of the people do 80% of the work), the truth is too often that churches fail to develop and equip people, mandating that all the work is done by the 20% that are already equipped.

How many of the Bible study leaders at your church were equipped by leaders at your church, or were they enlisted because they had experience before coming to your church? How many of the missions leaders at your church have been equipped to lead these ministries by your church leaders? How many of your youth and children’s ministry volunteers have experienced ongoing development and training, maximizing their gifts, talents, and experience? How many staff members does your church have that have been equipped by your church?

While hopefully not the only church like this, years ago I heard about a church in Georgia whose strategic plan included filling ministry positions with a specific category of person. This category was defined by those that would come into a saving relationship with Christ due to the ministry of the church, and would subsequently be trained and equipped so that they could fill significant leadership positions in the church. This church was not shackled by the 20/80 rule.

Do you believe that God has a purpose for your church? (Ephesians 1)

Do you believe it to be true that God places the members in your church body, just as He desires? (1 Cor 12:18)

Do you believe that the role of the church includes equipping its members? (Eph 4:11-12)

Living bodies multiply. Dead bodies don’t.

God has called the church “the body” of Christ.  Like all bodies, the church can be considered a cellular organization.  Different parts with different functions. Bodies live by cellular multiplication. Sometimes cells go out of control and become cancer. Surely every reader can identify from their church experience a cancer within a church they attended at one point or another. Other times, cells don’t multiply correctly, resulting in a deformity or crippling effect. We can all think back to one of those experiences as well. But there is no disease to describe what happens when cells don’t multiply. For death is not a disease.

And know this, bodies don’t die because cells stop multiplying, it is the other way around. If your church is not involved in multiplying – making disciples (helping the lost to be saved) and equipping disciples for ministry – then your church may very well be dead already.  Remember, it is the dead body that does not multiply cells.

So here’s what you can do.
What is your ministry gift, passion, experience, and/or calling? Find one person who will allow you to mentor them. If you are a deacon, find someone who you can pour your life into.  Are you a servant? Find someone you can pour servanthood into.  Don’t serve without them. Take them along with you as you serve. Tell them why you do what you do. Allow them to do what you do with you, instead of just watching you do it.

Are you a Bible study leader? Spend an hour a week with one who will one day be a Bible study leader.

Are you an usher, singer, media technician… multiply yourself.

Are you a pastor? Who are you equipping to pastor? Your church will follow your model and “leadership”. Stop looking for that one amazing “idol” – the one that can perform for the fans in the stands… em (people in the pews?). Rather, be the coach that wisely selects a team to develop… and multiply!

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One Response to Managers vs Leaders: American Idol and The Voice

  1. Pingback: The Pulse of a Church | ministrymapping

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