I’ve been pondering “The Law of the Lid” lately. This is a leadership principle taught by leadership expert, John Maxwell. Maxwell points out that your ability to lead is the “lid” on your potential. Anything you lead will grow until it hits that leadership lid, and if you want to grow it any further you need to move the lid higher by growing in your leadership ability.
I can see this law at work in the church. After almost 10 years since we launched True North Church, we have been through several phases of growth and each one has required new lessons to be learned in order to handle the next level.
As I thought about this law recently, though, I wondered, “Is the whole point of leading something really just to make it keep growing?” We talk a lot about growth in the church, and we often think in terms of increasing numbers of people, more & bigger programs, or a larger budget. But are those really our main goals? Is success for us defined by continuing to get bigger? And is that really my incentive to keep growing as a leader? Do I pursue greater leadership skills just to lead more people? I ask these questions because I have also been in countless discussions about the fact that numerical growth is NOT the goal of a church; and focusing on it can lead to serious problems!
The fact is that we do want out church to keep growing, but we need to be careful how we define “growth.” What does it really mean for our church to grow? To answer that I start with the primary purpose of the church: to “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.” (Matt 28:19-20) This is the command Jesus gave to his disciples. It is the foundational command of the Church, and as a follower of Christ, it is my own primary purpose.
So when it comes to growing the church, our goals are to continue growing in the depth of relationship we all have with Jesus and growing in our capacity to help others know Him. In other words we help people grow in maturity as disciples of Jesus; and we look for more opportunities to help other people grow as disciples of Jesus.
These two growth goals are connected to one another. There comes a point in every Christian’s life when further growth in their own faith only comes when they start sharing what they have already learned. Accomplishing our first goal, therefore, provides us with more people capable of pursuing the second goal! As a pastor, that means I need to do more than just teach people about Jesus and help them understand and apply the Bible to their lives. I need to also ensure those people are being trained in how to lead and equip others!
This might result in a bigger church, but if our focus in the right place, we won’t be concerned about that. Growth may also mean we train up a bunch of people to go other places in the world to make disciples. It might mean we teach them to go be leaders in other churches. And it might mean we send some out to start a new church. The point is that in all of these ways we are helping people grow in their relationship with the Lord and growing the overall ability of the church to teach people about Jesus, too.
All of this brings me back to the “Law of the Lid.” It is vital for the kind of growth we are seeking that the leadership capabilities of the church increase, and in order to do that, I need to keep growing as a leader as well.