I’ll never forget my first visit to the Proverbs 31 Ministries office as a member of the P31 Online Bible Studies Executive Team. It was so surreal.
I was in a meeting that was being run by P31 President Lysa TerKeurst. Ok, well …. I wasn’t physically IN the meeting room. I was in the “overflow” area right out side the beautiful glass door because everyone wouldn’t fit in the conference room. But I was part of the meeting.
Then, Lysa had to leave the meeting because Christian fiction mega-author Karen Kingsbury came by the office for a meeting and a tour. For real. Who does this happen to? It happens all the time for people who work in the P31 office, but it doesn’t happen all the time for me.
I was definitely star-struck.
However, as much as I admire and look up to Lysa as an author, speaker, ministry leader and business woman – as much as I learn from her through Compel and She Speaks and other resources provided by Proverbs 31 – I shouldn’t try to look at where she is and model my business after her. She’s in a whole other stratosphere!
A relationship with someone who is just two steps in front of me is an important part of my business support system. Someone who has built a faith-based business and has already done a lot the things I want to do.
It’s just as important to have a relationship with someone who is two steps behind me. Someone that I can pour into, support and promote.
I call that the Leadership Two-Step … two steps in front of me and two steps behind me. And there is a great example of a two-step relationship in the Bible – Paul and Barnabas.
Benefits of the Leadership Two-Step
Someone who is just a few steps ahead of you clearly remembers what it was like to be in your shoes. The scars of painful mistakes are still fresh, but she also connects with the heady euphoria of those early successes.
Barnabas was an influential member of the early church (as evidenced in Acts 4, 11 and 13) but he wasn’t one of the apostles. And he certainly wasn’t the main leader of the church … that honor and responsibility belonged to Peter. He was one of the early believers, and surely experienced some of the same persecution as the apostles, but isn’t mentioned as part of the entourage of people surrounding Jesus. He was just two steps ahead of Saul.
He remembered what it was like to be new in his faith, and so after Saul’s conversion, Barnabas sought Saul out. He offered his support and encouragement. They spent a year learning and teaching together before their first missionary journey.
As his own faith grew and developed, I can imagine it was easier for Saul to work it out with Barnabas than it would have been with Peter or the other apostles who were so much more advanced. Can’t you just picture the fiery Saul wanting to charge out and preach fire and brimstone, while the gentle, encouraging Barnabas shaped a heart that could balance that fire with compassion?
Someone who is just a few steps ahead of you can help establish credibility. Barnabas vouched for Saul when the apostles were distrustful that his conversion was real. He opened doors that could have remained closed for years. And because the apostles trusted Barnabas, they learned to trust Saul.
Having Barnabas’s (Barnabi??) a few steps in front of me who endorsed me as I was starting out (and continue to do so today) has made the road so much easier. I’ve learned from them and shared the struggles with people who are only a couple of years removed from starting something from scratch. Their support makes a difference.
Someone who is just a few steps behind will give you fresh ideas and energy. Barnabas and the other early leaders had plowed the hard ground. They had done all they knew to do and were a bit overwhelmed. Then along comes Saul, who had passion rarely seen before. He challenged them to do things differently. To preach in places they had never been. To teach things they had never taught. He was just the shot in the arm they needed.
I see this all the time in the people I work with and even from my blog readers. We are exploring this world of online ministry and business together. What you are going through is still relevant to where I am. You challenge me to look at new ideas. I research and figure them out. We both benefit and build the kingdom in our own ways.
The Leadership Two-Step relationship is not without it’s potential problems. Sometimes the person a few steps back sprints past the one in front. Sometimes the relationship runs it’s natural course. It’s a problem that Saul (Paul) and Barnabas faced.
They parted ways after a disagreement, but each continued to build fruitful ministries with other ministry partners. And that’s ok. The shared learnings and experiences they took away played a role in the long-term spread of the gospel.
And like all dances, the Leadership Two-Step takes some practice. You have to learn your partner’s strengths and weaknesses, and respect the times it is necessary to seek help from others.
Yea, I’ll dance with Lysa TerKeurst any chance I get, but my two-step partners are the ones I learn the most from while we do ministry and life together.
Are you doing the Leadership Two-Step? Are you working with people just in front and just behind you? Share your two-step experience in the comments!