Are You Dispensable?

There’s a book I like by Seth Godin titled Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? It’s about providing real value in any team or organization so that you become indispensable. I learned a lot from the book and I refer to people constantly.

But the reverse question occurred to me today. ARE YOU DISPENSABLE?

Yes, I agree that you want to work hard and be excellent at what you do so that you provide a valuable service to others. But if you’re trying to build something greater than yourself the goal should be more than being indispensable. Because if you’re indispensable, what happens when you INEVITABLY have to leave? Does everything collapse around your departure? Is that success?

A friend of mine recounted recently how he realized he had a wrong mindset when he was assigned a project with one company that he had learned and mastered completely but failed to teach to anyone else. When he was reassigned to another company, he watched his pet project fail as the people who took it over did not know it as well as he did. He was indispensable. But his project failed and all the earlier time spent on it was wasted. Is that success?

Steve Jobs died and Tim Cook has taken over. At this point, Apple under his administration has not wowed the world at the level that it did under Jobs. Steve Jobs seems indispensable now. But if the company fails after he’s gone, that doesn’t mean much does it? Is this success? We’re about to find out.

Last Saturday, at a gathering of our discipleship group leaders at Victory Fort, we were shown a video of a woman who started one discipleship group which eventually grew to 10 discipleship groups. Since then, she’s moved out of the group, keeping the relationships but letting the next in line people lead. It’s gotten bigger without her. She wasn’t indispensable. She built something that went beyond her. That’s success.

Dan Monterde, one of our campus directors, approached me last year looking for a new responsibility. He had grown our campus ministry in Metro East from five people to over a thousand. But at that point, he felt that Jeff Dacumos, the next-in-line, could lead just as well if not better than him. So he stepped down, turned it over to Jeff, and now serves in a number of other capacities. He built something that the next generation could run with. That’s success.

Robert Gonzalez, another one of our campus directors, is a similar story. Just this year, he stepped down from leading his large team of campus missionaries to focus on preaching and discipling young people. With the agreement of yet another veteran, Patrick Mercado, he turned the reins over to Brian Sebastian – a young man he led to Jesus personally and is fifteen years younger than him. Already we’re getting great feedback on Brian’s leadership. But what struck me most was a conversation with Robert where he shared his high hopes for Brian. Robert raised up a new leader who now works with him. That’s success.

So in this era of social-networking, which is often little more than self-promotion. What’s your definition of success? Does it live and die with you? Or will it go beyond you? Will you give your very best in your current season seeing success and growth, then turn it over to those who come after to see them take it higher and farther than you?

Are you dispensable?

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1 comment
  • That was unbelievably insightful. Touches on the concept of success, in this world, and the ideas of purpose, of self, and relevance. On the one hand, there is a way to focus on oneself, and on the other, there is the concept of seeing from a perspective beyond oneself, with the idea that success is more than a personal achievement, or a selfish goal…

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