My dad taught me how to play chess when I was in fourth grade. I immediately fell in love with the game. Strategic thinking comes natural to me, so I became obsessed with chess. I remember challenging my dad to games all afternoon on Saturdays. I would get so frustrated when he would win. Most of the time he would kick my butt, only letting me win every once in a while to keep me interested. After one brutal defeat, I screamed out of frustration, “How do you win so often!” He calmly looked up from the chess board and said, “You depend too much on your queen.” If you aren’t familiar with chess, the queen is the most powerful piece on the board. She can move any direction and as many spaces as you want. He was right, almost every move I made was either the queen or to set up the queen for a move. So to win, my dad would focus all of his moves on first killing my queen, then taking the board. After we set up for the next game, he removed both queens from the board and said, “This will help you.” And it did. Playing without my queen forced me to rethink all my strategies, but at first, I greatly struggled.
For weeks we played chess without our queens until I learned that the most important player isn’t the most powerful one. My dad gave me back the queen when I finally could beat him without it. Since then, chess became a whole different game for me. Not to get all nerdy on you, but after I learned this simple principle, I felt so free. I could tell the difference from novice players and well experienced players just by the first two moves they made in the game. It opened my eyes to explore more strategies that included all my pieces on the board.
In chess, the difference between novice players and experienced players is what you do with the most power player. Beginning players depend too much on the queen and most of their strategies are focused around that one powerful piece. An experienced player can live without the queen and has plans to use most of the pieces on the board within the game.
What I have found is that it is the same with leadership. The difference between novice leaders and experienced leaders is what they do with what they perceive as their most talented people. Young and beginning leaders tend to be too dependent on the most talented and powerful people in their circles. Or, they think that you can’t do anything without gifted people.
The dangers of Queen dependency.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that you need strong gifted people to help you build ministry, and recruiting them is very important. Unfortunately, I have seen many leaders become too dependent on only the best and brightest people they have. But what happens if they leave? Strong and growing ministries have been greatly crippled when leaders base their main plans around a few individuals. Suddenly, those leaders leave and the ministry struggles.
A while ago, I visited a mid-sized church that had a Queen mentality. When I walked in the door, I was handed a very nice, multi-colored, visitor card that was a welcome from “The Pastor” with his full page picture of him preaching. Then I sat down and opened up the program and saw that there was a “Meet The Pastor” lunch right after church. Afterwards I saw some friends from the church, the first thing they asked me was, “What do you think of The Pastor?” When I visited their website and went to the staff page, there was only a life-size picture of The Pastor (There are about 6 people on staff). Now I am not saying that having a “meet the pastor” luncheon is bad, but I hope you are getting my point. It takes much more than just one person to build a church.