Thursday, September 6

Success is...

...working yourself out of a job. There are many ways to measure success, but for the missionary, one is when others take over those tasks, roles and responsibilities that we are filling. The missionary is left wondering what to do next. Success is essentially coming to the point when, I (the missionary), am no longer needed.

The following thoughts come from Working Yourself Out of a Job

1. Let them watch you do the job.
This is the step where potential leaders are recognized. In this step, existing leaders notice those who naturally stand out and seem to attract others through natural charisma, knowledge and abilities. These individuals are not necessarily destined to be leaders, but they exhibit leadership traits. It’s at this step that a new candidate is chosen.

2. Teach them to do the job.
At this stage, the candidate helps the leader perform his duties, learning the trade along the way. The leader will impart valuable insight and maturity throughout this process, instructing the trainee as they work together. A good example of this would be an electrician’s apprentice.

3. Make room for them to do the job.
This is where the trainee gets all his practice. A wise leader makes room for failure, allowing the trainee to learn the hard way, by making mistakes, and shape his own philosophies and tendencies. An effective leader will not quench opposing ideas, but will corral these philosophies and traits toward a commonly-held positive goal, teaching the trainee how to use those qualities to have a positive influence on those that are being led.

4. Get out of the way and let the new leader do the job.
This is the final step. The trainee has matured and gained valuable wisdom and insight through the training process. They’ve made mistakes and learned the hard way. They have established a rapport with those they’re to lead, who look to the leader for direction. At this point the leader can step back and allows the protege to do the job without individual restraint. New ideas and philosophies flow into the arena, and the new leader can begin to look among those he leads for people that exhibit the qualities of a future leader. And so the cycle continues.

In CPM (Church Planting Movements) methodology the above four steps are referred to as MAWL (Model-Assist-Watch-Leave).

I confess these steps are easier to write about than to put into practice. Having the attitude of John the Baptist, "He must become greater; I must become less" takes a large dose of spiritual maturity. We want to be the ones needed, recognized, looked to, called upon, invited, and sought out. When others begin to fill the roles we once had, it is a hard pill to swallow.

After all, we gave up a lot to come to the mission field. We're used to being the one people call upon and look to for answers, direction, training, etc. We want our lives to count. Yet, how much more will our lives count when we multiply ourselves into others and they begin filling the roles once held by us? The best we can do for others is model for them what is needed to be done, assist them in doing the task, watch from a distance as they continue doing the task, and finally leave them alone as they take our place and begin doing the task we once did ourselves.


Tim Patterson said...


Thanks for the link. This is another good description for the process of reproducing disciples and leaders.

For me, the tricky part of MAWL is the "assisting" phase. I like to call it "observing" because this puts the emphasis on the second generation doing the job with minimal interference from the first generation. It has been my experience that if the first generation "assists" the second in a new work... they tend to take over and the second never really takes the reigns and responsibility. This is also why we add "delegating" in there to make sure the next generation is fully empowered to continue on their own.

We replace "watching and leaving" with "encouraging and leaving" as the 4th and final phase. This is where we have accountability along with empowerment. Also, we are phasing out gradually and not abandoning the next generation.

Our MODEL is a morph of the MAWL process born out of experience on the field with reproducing disciples but also from Scripture. We don't see Jesus "assisting" his disciples, nor Paul doing that either, at least not explicitly. We do see them modeling, observing, delegating, encouraging and leaving.

I think MAWL does the same thing, but we are trying to give more emphasis to delegation of authority (empowerment) and accountability (encouragement) by stating it a little differently.

GuyMuse said...


Thank you for these helpful words. These are concepts we grapple with nearly everyday in our dealings with cp servant-leaders. I actually prefer your morphed version of MAWL which ends of being MODEL (model, observe, delegate, encourage, leave). Good stuff. I wish I would have had this yesterday as we met to talk about the current way we are training and the needs we are seeing of making some changes.