by Rob Cizek

Think of a person who helped you grow as a leader. What was the most memorable thing they did?

Most people will answer with, “They were patient with me” or “They allowed me to learn from failure.” Another common answer is, “They spent time with me.”

No matter what our mentors did, there is one common thread: someone took an active interest in our growth.

One of the most important (but never urgent) tasks of a leader is replacing yourself. It is important to note, however, that you replace yourself by developing others, not replicating yourself.

After Walt Disney’s death, there was a saying at the Disney company. “What would Walt do?” was the question everyone would ask, hoping to keep the founder’s spirit alive. While this may have been done with the best of intentions, it was a terrible thing for the staff. It stiffeled innovation and bound the company to the past.

Take the story of John Lasseter. He was a young animator at Disney. He brought fresh ideas that didn’t fit the traditional Disney model. He was let go. Then Lasseter joined an upstart company called Pixar. He innovated the movie “Toy Story” and the computer animation that we all know today. John Lasseter and Pixar went on to great success. Old-school Disney Animation withered to a shadow of its once glorious self. Pixar and Disney would eventually merge, with John Lasseter as its president. The lesson: don’t try to replicate yourself. Develop promising leaders so they can lead from their own strengths.

If emerging leaders aren’t sure which direction God would have them go, help them look for God’s thumbprints on their lives. God’s thumbprints are clues as to his plan for our lives.

Rob Cizek is Executive Pastor at Northshore Christian Church, a non-denominational church of 1,500 and Christian academy of 1000 in the Seattle area. He oversees daily operation of the organization and its ministries. He also organizes a networking group for executive pastors in the Puget Sound area. Rob, his wife, Janice, and two children live in Everett, WA. Rob regularly posts resources for church leaders on and Twitter at:

This post is an excerpt from the original that appeared here. Used with permission from the author.