Keychain Leadership

By: José Esteban Juan

Everything starts when we hand over the keys.

We all know what a keychain is. It’s a normal accessory that makes it easy to carry a large number of keys for different locks, gates, or doors. There are people who are responsible for the key rings of large buildings and companies, some even with more than a hundred keys! And the interesting thing is that they can recognize the key to each of the doors or padlocks. We could say that the work day begins when these managers put the keys of their key ring into practice.

What does this have to do with leadership? A lot! Keychain leadership is a quality that an influential leader can adopt and, instead of leveraging their position for profit, they empower others by “handing over the keys”. That is, in addition to leading, their role is to recognize qualities and gifts in others and deliver the right keys to the right persons.

What is the key to being a keychain leader? Simply stated, it’s investing in others. This, from a layman’s point of view, represents a great opportunity of service for the Lord and His Church.

A study done by Fuller Youth Institute investigated the practices of churches that are revitalizing the way they minister to young people. One of the main pillars of such churches was found to be “distributing leadership.” In other words, these churches had “keychain leaders”. This practice consistently allows leaders to develop their leadership by providing service opportunities to youth or laity of any age.

As a youth leader, I can testify that this pillar is foundational. I was a teenager who, after being discipled and baptized, was given a key within the ministry. That decision gave me a sense of belonging in the local church and I continued to grow and develop my leadership in order to serve God and others.

Many teenagers and young people in our local churches have begun to suppress the gifts and talents that God has given them because they still have not received a key from their leaders. What are we waiting for?

One of the fears that must be overcome in order to develop keychain leadership in our ministries is the fear of losing our positions in ministry. We must understand that the leadership given by God does not depend on the position of service that one ends up having. In fact, if that position is lost, true leadership should still exist and seek to transform lives. This does not mean that to be a keychain leader the first thing you need to do is give your position to others and just be done. Like any key keeper, at some point we will receive a new key ring with more keys and we will need to be willing to give the old key ring to someone else.

In the next few days we will continue with this topic, exploring practical ways to start being a keychain leader.

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