Catalyst 2011 Final Message with Andy Stanley
The ministry of apprenticeship: If you are one step ahead of anyone, you have something to offer.

Andy Stanley's final message at Catalyst stressed one big idea: the vitality of Christian leadership depends on apprenticeship. Stanley defines apprenticeship as the process of "selecting, modeling, and coaching for the purpose of replacing yourself." As Stanley said in an earlier talk, most of us have a problem with that word selecting. It seems so unfair. But Jesus wasn't "fair"—in the sense that he didn't spend the same amount of time with each disciple. According to Stanley, "Our job is to look behind us and pour our lives into a few selected people."

This leads to another implication for every leader: "Your responsibility is to empty your cup. It is not your responsibility to fill someone else's cup." That should take a huge burden off of us as leaders. We don't have to know everything. We don't have to be experts. We don't have to fix people and fill their cups. For Stanley, "If you are one step ahead of anyone, you have something to offer to someone who is one step behind you." What a great—and liberating—goal for every leader.

Stanley shared the following personal story.

He was meeting a friend for lunch. The friend, a circuit judge, has incredible power and works long hours. But when Stanley went to his office, he had to wait for his friend who was talking on the phone. As he talked, three young people sat on a couch in his office, frantically taking notes and trying to keep up with the judge's conversation. When Stanley's friend got off the phone, he turned to his interns and asked, "Okay, based on that conversation, what did you learn?"

It struck Stanley that this is exactly what Christian leaders should be doing every day, apprenticing younger leaders. This isn't a program or a curriculum. You do it by inviting people to walk beside you as you complete different aspects of your leadership. In other words, don't do your ministry alone. Don't interview alone. Don't budget alone. Don't design, prepare, or create alone. Bring someone along with you. Again, you don't have to fill their cup; just empty your cup.

So as the conference ended, Stanley gave every leader one more specific assignment: "Replace yourself."

October 07, 2011

Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments


March 07, 2012  10:20am

Andy Stanley addresses such a relevant concern that has been overlooked to much. It seems in our individualistic society we have forgotten that there are others younger than us falling far behind because no one will invest the time to replicate themselves. Whether it be the workplace, church, school, or home, those experienced and wise need to be sharing their wisdom with those behind. There are always followers that long to have someone pour into them no matter how much that may be. People need to realize, as Stanley points out, that their experience is significant to those who lack it. Do not discount your experience when there are always others who can benefit from you.

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Andrew Ranck

November 28, 2011  11:44am

Wow, so true! People spend tens of thousands of dollars on "discipleship" by means of education when they could learn so much from their own leaders if their leaders simply took the time to invest in the lives of several potential leaders instead of sending them off to college or seminary. Mentorship is a new buzzword that's going around today but sometimes the lines of mentorship are being blurred. I think mentoring should take on Jesus' model of discipleship. Take a look at Jesus' disciples. Most if not all of Jesus' disciples were probably men who at one time had tried to be a disciple of some great rabbi but had been turned away because they weren't smart enough. It was God working through the disciples that the church was started and still continues today. It was a hand full of men who had been discipled by Jesus who changed the world I think that discipleship is still God's method of planting churches and training leaders today.

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November 11, 2011  1:10pm

This is what the world needs more than ever. Young people and teens need mentors. They need experienced older Christians to live life with them. To build relationships with them, to know them, and finally to teach them. They can teach them the word and help in the younger or newer Christians spiritual development. Not only that they can share experiences and give advice, when the new believer runs into some of the same questions or problems the older believer has. What is really amazing is the potential for growth. That once this older Christian has finished developing and teaching the new believer all he/she can. That the one or more believers they were discipleing can go and disciple one or two more and so on. Really exciting and practical stuff.

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October 08, 2011  12:31pm

I think this is a great message. I often wonder how things would be different if when a church needed a new pastor, there was already one in their congregation ready to go because the pastor had been training him or her already.

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