By Tracey Bianchi
I play favorites. Unabashedly, unashamedly, I hand pick women to love on deeply within the ministry areas I lead.
When I served as a High School Pastor I spread out my smiles and prayers to students as evenly as I could. I encouraged boys and girls alike and helped them know God loved them all deeply. But, I had favorites. A small group of girls into whom I poured more leadership capital. A strategy that makes me wince when I consider the fact in ministry we try to spread out the love of God to as many people as possible. How dare we pick a few to dote upon?!
To lead well and bring people where God is calling us to lead them, most of us choose a select few to be with tightly. We don't like the appearance of favoring a few, but we default into this stance. When we feel pressed by leadership responsibility, we think, "Now who do I pour into to get this done now and into the future?" It's how we get work done and leadership multiplied. It's why Jesus had a tight circle of three and an inner circle of twelve.
"My girls" were not the snappiest dressers, the most extroverted students or even the ones with the most leadership potential. They were the girls God etched on my heart and called me to mentor and befriend. And as they moved from High School Ministry on into college and now, into adulthood, these are still the gals I chase after and lead differently than others and they are now in ministry leadership themselves. The strategy worked.
Leadership cannot exist separately from friendship and mentorship. The three are inextricably linked and yet, in order to lead and mentor well, we can only befriend and mentor a small number of our teammates. If we spread ourselves too thin, we make lousy friends and leaders to many and powerful partners to very few.
So as you consider your teams, the groups and communities you lead, think through the "favorites" that God has pressed upon your heart. If you are called to lead some differently and more intimately than others, consider how you can do that well. What boundaries do you need to set with other teammates? How do you address what can be perceived as a lack of care for some and overt care for others? Can other mentors share your load so that all are cared for?
As a leader, the energy and time you have for friendships and mentorships is precious. Moses in Psalm 90:12 calls us to live within the boundaries of our limited time. As a leader, consider what it looks like to live wisely and well by investing your friendship and resources into the pockets of a few so that for the Kingdom, you can impact many.
Tracey Bianchi is the Worship Pastor at Christ Church in Oak Brook, Illinois and author of Green Mama and Mom Connection. You can purchase her recorded webinar on Leader Friends at www.fullfill.org.