I'm not big on business books. You're more likely to catch me reading Nouwen or Newbigin than Collins or Covey. So when a friend said I "had to" read Multipliers, I did so reluctantly.
I'm glad I did.
Toward the beginning of the book, author Liz Wiseman asks, "Do you want to be a genius or a genius maker?" Her definition of genius doesn't require high IQ or exceptional knowledge; it's about reproducing life change in others. True geniuses make other geniuses.
We tend to think movements are led by brash visionaries, but Wiseman debunks this notion. She explains how movement makers are usually people humble enough to live a life bigger than themselves.
She also writes about "diminishers," people whose pride limits the capability of those around them. Having a "diminisher" at the helm can spell doom for an organization. "As we studied Diminishers we heard case after case of smart individuals being underutilized by their leaders ... We learned that it is indeed possible to be both overworked and underutilized." Such cautions ring especially true in our time. Wiseman writes: "In down markets and times of scarcity, managers must find ways to get more capability and productivity from their current resources."
Multipliers frames a hopeful reality. The author contends that everyone—not just the talented and charismatic—has the potential to be a multiplier. If you can navigate a little corporate jargon, there are plenty of takeaways for people in ministry.
As a "multiplying pastor" on staff at my church, this book made me think. Do I want merely to be a disciple or a disciple-maker? Am I seeking to extend my own reach or to make the people around me better? How many Bible studies, ministries, and churches are spiraling downward because they are led by diminishers?
The book also opened my eyes to the untapped potential around me. It was like putting on glasses for the first time. Suddenly what looked fuzzy and indistinct was crystal clear. There are geniuses all around me! Since reading the book I have begun to see one of my primary roles as putting on the "genius glasses" and trying to spot talent around me. Whether it's at a meeting with staff or lunch with a lay person, I am always looking for latent talent. There truly are geniuses everywhere, and I have begun to seek opportunities to validate and equip them for service.
The book also hit a pain point felt by churches: we're simply not able to hire people like we used to. We find ourselves looking largely to volunteer teams to fulfill roles that were once covered by full-time staff. We are doing less with more and addition won't cut it anymore. We are going to have to learn the language of multiplication.
Reading Multipliers reminded me of Ephesians 2:10. There Paul reminds us that we are all "created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." As leaders our job isn't to do all the work. It's to empower all God's children to discover their identity in Christ and engage in the work God has called them to do. Multiplication is a crucial concept for church leaders. Jesus was the greatest genius when it came to multiplication. As his followers, we should be, too.
Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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