old_man_basketballMondays are usually rest days for me. As a pastor, weekends are usually packed with ministry. I am grateful that on Monday mornings, my wife, Jenn, allows me to take some time to play basketball with friends from church.

The guys I get to play with are literally guys half my age. Playing with them is interesting to say the least. Interesting because they don’t know how to deal with playing with someone as old as their dad. They’re respectful because of my age (and function in church) so they tend to be nicer but get upset when they fall behind or lose (which rarely happens).

One Monday morning, I wasn’t playing very well which is not seldom. Our team was trailing primarily because I wasn’t making the shots I was taking. Blame it on exhaustion or team chemistry, but bottomline was because I was medieval and disintegrating. But here’s the thing, I didn’t take myself out of the game to replace myself with someone who could do a better job.

Pride.

That was the main reason. Trying to prove to myself or others that I can still hack it caused me to stay too long.

This is a major reason why many stay too long in a leadership position. People want to feel significant and desire to hold on to their title as long as they can. As a result, the upcoming guys end up hitting a lid or simply leave the organization.

I told our staff, colleagues and especially my superiors that when the time comes, it will be more helpful for me that they tell me that I am no longer effective instead of keeping quiet, tolerate and simply endure my leadership. It’s not beneficial to me nor for the organization I lead.

As consulting expert, Rachel Ong, would say, “When you replace yourself, there’s always going to be another position of influence waiting for you.” She would often use the example of Lee Kwan Yew. He retired and turned over the leadership of Singapore when he was in his prime. He passed the baton and got out of the way. As a result, not only was there great respect but other leaders ran to him for insight, wisdom and counsel. That’s what it means to be a statesman. One can actually influence without having a title. He exemplified it. And got honored for it.

Growing in leadership doesn’t mean holding on to the title and keeping a firm grip on your role. Discernment will dictate when to ramp off so that you can build another up. In the end, your leadership will not just be a title but a legacy.