StartLeading: Develop New Leaders – Are you a Searchlight or Spotlight? – Jason Gaboury

Pick Your Seat

Find the brightest spot in the room.  Square your shoulders.  Make an impression!  These were just a few of the maxims David taught us.  As an aspiring actor in my first ‘real’ job, I was quick to learn.  Success as an actor would mean finding the light.  It would mean picking the chair in the spotlight.


The seat in the spotlight is influential, but the influence is limited.

Spotlight or Searchlight

By the Sea of Galilee Jesus chose a different seat.  He got into a boat belonging to a fisherman named Simon and taught the crowds.  (My guess is that he had one eye on Peter the whole time.)  After that was done, Jesus focuses in on Peter drawing him (and his partners) into an adventure that would change their lives.  At the turning point of this story (read it for yourself in Luke 5) are Jesus’ words, “Follow me and I’ll make you fish for people.”

It isn’t immediately obvious how different these two seats are.  After all, doesn’t Jesus use the water as an amplifier?  Isn’t he positioning himself in the spotlight?  Luke’s emphasis (and Jesus’) is different.  The story is about Jesus’ catch of Peter.  It’s Peter and the other disciples becoming ‘fishers of men’ that Jesus is focused on.  In the hands of the master, the spotlight turns into a searchlight looking for others to advance his work.

Expert or Multiplier

As ministry leaders we have to choose what seat we’re going to occupy.  We can choose the spotlight, honing our ministry skills, becoming experts, expanding our capacities to teach, preach, organize, evangelize, and manage.  Or we can sit with a searchlight looking to identify, develop, and multiply others to carry the mission forward.

Great leaders choose the searchlight.  This doesn’t mean that leaders never get up in front.  Leadership requires moments of sitting in the spotlight, clarifying vision, catalyzing a movement, or calling for commitment.  But most often the leadership seat is the one where you catapult others to carry the mission forward.

Which Seat Do You Want?

What seat do you want?  Really?  Are you drawn by the potential influence of being the ministry expert, the hub of activity, the one making the big impression?  Or do you want to release other people to make their biggest potential impact?  Both great talent and great leaders serve the kingdom of God.  There’s room for both, but it’s helpful to be clear which seat you’re choosing.

Pick your seat.