Recruitment vs. Reproduction
As leaders, we are in the business of raising new leaders and even replacing ourselves. It would be easy to make the case that if you are not preparing someone else to take your place and/or outpace your abilities, then you are not truly leading people. Often, the desire to stay in the position of leadership comes from a “command and control” attitude. It is the kind of leadership found in The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. It is a leadership that enlists people into your work but never releases them for any other work.
Whether or not we raise up new leaders finds its root in how we treat recruitment and reproduction. So ask yourself this simple question:
Am I recruiting people to complete tasks or am I reproducing leaders to engage the mission?
In the church, I find too many are simply recruiting people to fill positions, do tasks, or fill a void. It is even masked in spiritual language. “We need a volunteer.” “Can you fill in for the next few months until we find someone who will take it long-term?” “We just need someone to get this done.” At times, these are necessary statements to describe positions and give expectations. However, they are ancillary issues to the real work of reproducing leaders. As with many things, it comes down to your priorities.
In his book Organic Leadership, Neil Cole wrote,
“Recruitment is a practice in subtraction – taking people from one ministry to work in another. Reproducing leaders from the harvest and for the harvest is a practice of multiplication. The end results of these two methods are as far apart as the east is from the west.”
Leaders must discipline themselves to choose reproduction over recruitment. Otherwise, you will simply steal back and forth from ministries within your church… and maybe even other churches.
Here are five contrasts to help you test how you are doing in this area:
- Recruitment produces more followers. Reproduction produces more leaders.
- Recruitment provides minimalistic orientation. Reproduction provides substantial training.
- Recruitment is delegation ending in abandonment. Reproduction training leading to commissioning.
- Recruitment only transfers knowledge. Reproduction is part of a robust disciple making system.
- Recruitment enlists members. Reproduction creates partners.
The difference between recruitment and reproduction is more than just semantics or action steps. Recruitment can be a form of arrogance. It occurs when we back ourselves into the corner that “only I can lead the work” and “only I know how it should be done” and “only I can see where we need to go.” As a leader, test yourself to ensure that you are participating in the mission that is larger than yourself and has Christ as its King. When you keep a kingdom perspective, it will be easier to reproduce leaders rather than recruit followers.