And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
(2 Tim 2:2 NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, ďAll authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
(Mat 28:18-20 NIV)
The definition of empowering is to authorise another person, or group, to have the freedom to act, think, respond, initiate, and make decisions affecting their area of given responsibility.
Managers empower staff. Leaders empower their leaders. Parents empower their children. Teachers empower their students. Pastors empower their congregations. Those that empower others do so through educating, resourcing, evaluating, and guiding.
Dr. Stephen Covey describes empowerment this way-
Give a man a fish and you
feed him for a day.
Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The greater the maturity, the less need for direction and supervision, and therefore the greater the amount of empowering that can be given.
1. ††††† Based on Matthew 28:18-20, what level of maturity did Christ show in His disciples?
2.†††††† Read Acts 20:28-36. To what extent did Paul empower the Ephesian elders?
Being empowered requires three essential things: (i) Character, (ii) Trustworthiness, and (iii) Competence. To qualify for maximum empowerment a person must accept responsibility for their own development in these three areas. No-one else can make you a person of character, trustworthiness, or competence. Itís something that must be developed ďinternally.Ē George Bernard Shaw wrote about his desire to be empowered to live life when he wrote-
This is true joy in life:† being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one...Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy...Ē
Empowered people accept responsibility for their empowerment rather than blaming others for what they do not have. They are prepared to grow, change and be stretched. Have you ever tried to help a person who didnít want to be helped? Have you ever heard an addict blame others for their addiction? There is a principle deeply involved with empowerment: if you want it, give it away first.
3.†††††† What are some things that people canít have until they give it away?
4.†††††† Can we limit Luke 6:38 just to money?
5.†††††† What are the three essential things to empowerment?
(i) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _††††††† ††††††††† ††††††††† (ii) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _††††††††† ††††††††† (iii) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
6.†††††† What would an empowered church look like? How would it be different to an autocratic church?
7.†††††† Could we describe the men in Second Samuel 23:18-17 as empowered? Why and who by?
To empower someone first involves recognising the vision and mission (purpose) to which we are called. Then it is a matter of identifying the level of a personís character, trustworthiness, and competence. Dependent upon their competence, empowerment is more concerned with outcomes (reaching agreed objectives) than it is with methods. For example, a parent might say to their ten year old child that they want them to have their bedroom tidy before they go to bed at 8PM every night. The parent and the child agree that this is not unreasonable, and they also agree on the reward/penalty for achieving/not achieving this outcome. If the parent then nags the child to clean their room because it is getting closer to 8PM, and they are present in the room giving orders on what needs to be picked up and where it needs to be put, they have not really empowered their child.
Empowering does involve delegating. We must delegate outcomes, not methods. Reasons not to delegate, and therefore empower another include: it is slower (you could do it yourself quicker); things donít get done in the priority you have in mind; it takes more time to show someone else how to do it than it does to do it yourself; it may not be done the way you would do it; and, it may contain mistakes.
We want to be a church of empowered and empowering people. We finish by reading Ephesians 4. Note how it speaks of each of us having a role to play in Christís church. If we accept that, then we are well on the way to being empowered and empowering.