Equipping and Empowering Leaders

Larry Osborne titled it The Barnabas Factor: Finding and Developing Leaders

It was a Thursday morning seminar option at the Evangelical Free Church National Conference.
[Aside: the SBC was having their national conference the same week. On Tuesday on the day before the SBC conference started they had a pre-conference. Find David Platt’s message to the SBC pre-conference and watch the video. One of the best messages I have EVER heard. Life-changing for every believer.]

Back to Larry’s seminar. Brilliant. My notes will not do it justice so if you ever have opportunity to hear Larry Osborne on equipping and nurturing leaders don’t miss it. Now, five points:

1.  Cultivate a Barnabas-like spirit and pattern of generosity (Acts 4:32-37)

  • “Stingy people are not empowering people”
  • “Be willing to share power, prestige and preferences”
  • Generally, “people in power want their preferences.” Don’t be that way.

2.  Cultivate  a Barnabas-like quickness to forgive (Acts 9:26-27)

  • Barnabas turns from avoidance of Paul to champion of Paul
  • Personal story from Larry, he came to see early in his ministry, “the same heart that was depressed over failure would be arrogant over success.”

3.  Cultivate a Barnabas-like focus on anointing not pedigree or tenure.

  • “The apostle Paul was a resume nightmare” but Barnabas saw the anointing of God on his life and so he became his champion.
  • “Movements look to the future; denominations look to the past’
    • Schoenleber corollary: Leaders of movements look to the future not the past.
    • Andy Stanley similar corollary: “Spend more time reachin’ than keepin'”

4.  Cultivate a Barnabas-like pattern of defending the right to be different (Acts 11:18-30; 15:1-35)

  • “Be the protector of new wineskins.”
  • “Be the defender of things I don’t like”  in other words: recognize that they are just your preferences.
  • Fight for the leader’s of the future to have open options. Example: Larry told of their plan to build a facility. After 30 years they are going to build their first facility. In Calif. you have to get your plan approved for not only what you are going to build but for anything that you might build over the next 30 years. Larry is not a fan of Christian Schools. As long as he is the pastor, they will never build one or house one. Nevertheless, in their plan they put a Christian school. Why? “I didn’t want to handcuff future leaders with my preferences.” I wanted to give future leaders an open path to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit not my preferences.”
  • A leader needs to recognize that there is always a past to protect and a future to create.” In ministry, the drift of the tension is to preserve the past at the sacrifice of the future.
    • Schoenleber comment: Don’t let the church be held hostage to squeaky wheels and visionless, selfish members who act like the church exists for them.

5.  Cultivate a Barnabas-like willingness to step-aside (Acts 13:1-14:28)

  • “You can’t truly empower if you aren’t willing to be hurt.”
  • “You can’t truly empower if you don’t get hurt.”
  • “Empowerment without a platform is like responsibility with out authority.”
  • “Finds ways to platform your new and emerging leaders.”

Other Osborne-isms:
1.  “Hire and/or involve the best person for the job.”
2.  “You need a system that puts the right people at the table.”  —some church polity puts people at the table because of longevity, or position, or title.”
3.  “You need a system that allows the right people to make decisions.”

Final Comment:  “Being used of God doesn’t mean being more approved by God.” —Larry Osborne

Larry Osborne is a genius and I praise God for redeeming him and bringing him into the family of God.

4 thoughts on “Equipping and Empowering Leaders

  1. Pure gold. Larry is the reason I am in the Free Church. His contrarian thinking showed me that the EFCA is indeed a big tent. Larry is guy who lives out the words he says. I emailed him because I saw he was going to be speaking at a conference I would be attending. I asked if he would possibly have a few minutes for coffee. I wanted to pick his brain. We ended up going out for dinner and I benefitted from several hours with him instead of a few minutes.


  2. I went to North Coast Church’s “Sticky Church Conference” in October of 2008. I’m planning to attend this year as well. Larry shared his insight into small groups, as well as leader recruiting and multiplication. The principles He shares aren’t always easy, but they are generally simple.

    As a result, I can’t wait to attend this year’s conference, where Larry (and a bevy of other gifted presenters) will be talking about the development of “sticky teams.” In the context of ministry, ironically, it’s not unusual for a competitive spirit to get in the way of teamwork. So, I’m looking forward to hearing some wisdom on how to develop teams that work, and that last!

    Thanks, Marty, for the outline of Larry’s presentation. These are great, Biblical principles that ought to find their place in both the thinking and praxis of every leader-developer!


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