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A Picture of Leadership in YWAM

April 18th, 2012 · 2 Comments · News

At the December 2011 Global Leadership Forum meetings, one regional leader attended feeling quite concerned about the direction the GLF was heading in regard to processing YWAM’s global structure. During the meetings, however, he received a picture in his mind during a time of prayer that helped him feel more confident about the future. Here, he shares his experience (the author’s name has been omitted for security reasons):

“It was near the end of the GLF meetings, we were praying and sharing communion when God gave me a picture.

”The picture was of a big room with a big canvas on the floor and lots of paint. The big room was my geographical area of responsibility. Any child with the last name YWAM was welcome to come and paint in that room on that canvas.

A Picture of Leadership in YWAM“Some painted in small groups, some alone. My job was not to control what the children painted. My trust was that the Holy Spirit directed their painting.

“My job as a leader was to help the room be a happy and safe place for the children to express their creativity. So I was like a parent with a bunch of children. That meant sometimes helping the bigger children realise if they were crowding or overwhelming some of the smaller or less confident children. It meant encouraging the children to learn from each other but not to feel they should copy each other. It meant sometimes helping the children see new ways or techniques of painting. It meant sometimes helping pull together some bigger joint projects so that a number of different children could join in with one another if they wanted. And sometimes it meant stopping one of the children if they were painting another child or painting over someone else’s work.

“The room was a buzz of activity and the canvas a riot of colour. In some corners the picture ‘made sense’ and was complete in itself. Other corners looked like a confused mess where some children painted abstractly and other children came, painted just for a short time, and then moved on to another room.

“But my job was not to make the whole canvas make sense as one picture – that would have been way beyond me, and most likely counterproductive since ours was just one of many canvasses being painted in the region.

What does it mean?

Applying this to our GLF meetings I could see why, if God is calling us to lead more as an eldership supporting many different self governing teams, then it becomes important to reassess and change what our leadership structures and activities look like to reflect what God is telling us to do/be.

It feels scary to walk in to the future with even less structure than we’ve had. But my panic has moved to excited anticipation and expectancy. I can also see that, if God were to begin pouring out massive growth upon the mission now, it would soon overwhelm the more traditional ways we’ve been doing leadership.

As we walk ahead in these things I foresee some important changes to YWAM :

  1. I think we’ll see more releasing for people to pioneer in new and innovative ways. Part of the process for this to happen will be to disappoint those who consider themselves the doorkeepers over certain pieces of geography or types of ministry activity.
  2. There will be greater connectivity and collaboration as people and teams belong to multiple circles or forums which all serve different aspects of who they are and what they’re doing.
  3. We’ll develop recognition of the active ministry of many YWAMers involved in the spheres and a blurring of the lines between what is a YWAM activity or what’s not. This will help combine the best of those ministering in the sphere with the best YWAM staff or elders also have to offer by affirming, convening and collaborating with those YWAMers that are no longer full time staff but are ministering “out there.”
  4. It will create a less stressful role for leaders as they recognise again the Holy Spirit’s role in making their teams successful, and their role in serving and teaching into that. It will also broaden the leadership input our staff can get. This will help YWAMers take unreasonable expectations off their leaders and create a broader sense of parenting and grand-parenting into the mission while still reaffirming the leadership roles and responsibilities at the team level.
  5. We will fulfil our goal of building a structure that is more in line with how God is leading the Body of Christ. I believe we are called to model how an organisation or mission can function and grow in this way.

In conclusion, maybe it’s time to run into what God is saying, holding on to nothing and leaving ourselves no way of return. That’s quite scary, but I think I am actually at a place of peace and excitement about the future of the mission that I have not been at for some years.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Shira Sagal Valdez

    I am a former YWAMER and found this article interesting. At the ministry I am currently with we have literally done what the the picture showed, with prophetic artists. The huge canvas had beautiful boundary lines drawn on it and each artist was given a section. Each participating artist had to make it relatable to the whole canvas and stay within their appointed section. A lead apostolic and talented artist appointed the sections based on holy spirit leading and talent (maturity)levels of the other artists. The piece came out beautiful and a consistent powerful message of God emerged. All artists had to give up their personal agendas and seek the unity of the spirit through their collaborative piece. It can be done!

  • John

    I am really enjoying reading and trying to understand the journey we are being taken on as YWAM to discover how we function with a more biblical language of leadership and Eldership. I am excited to see my region discovering Elders and releasing them to influence, represent and intercede for us. I am also discovering that as we recognise and affirm Elders we often seem to end up with a leadership vacuum.

    I would be glad to hear if anyone else has had this experience and if so how they are dealing with it, or if there are any articles already written about how others have navigated this.


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