There are times when you purchase new software for your computer that the program comes on a data CD in the mail or in a box. After you load the disc on the computer a prompt requests the unlock code in order to extract the CD contents and install it on your computer. Typically its 16 digit code is located somewhere on the package. You must find the sticker showing "xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx" in order to get the program unlocked and working. Until it is unlocked, the program remains dormant on the disc. It's there, available and potentially very helpful, but until it's unlocked it remains unused and unappreciated.
I have a Mac. I enjoy it. It does well for me. The newest operating system is available for me to purchase now ("Leopard"). I haven't bought it yet (saving the money), but when I do I won't hesitate to install it right away. Imagine if I bought Leopard, had the box and CD in my possession, but didn't unlock and install it on my Mac. I boasted that I now have "Leopard," but when someone asked me, "Do you like how it runs?" all I could say was, "I don't know. I haven't installed it." How ridiculous is that? Should I really go about boasting that I have Leopard in my possession unless I've unlocked, installed and started using it?
People are similar. There is a great deal that God has invested in them (in all of us) that remains dormant until it is "unlocked" and "installed" into the community. As a pastor, I see a large part of my job is to "read the disc" to discover its contents, then see it unlocked so that a person's gifts and abilities are "installed" in the community or church for the benefit of all. This is not an easy task. Sufficient time must be spent getting to know people to know what they carry on their "disc, and then trusting God to supply the unlock code that will see them made beneficial to the Church and the mission of God.
As I meet with people at various Starbucks in our area, at different days and times of the week, I often feel as though such moments are the most exciting times of all. Sure preaching is fun too; so is directing church movement through strategic planning and administration. But time spent in close contact with people over coffee or dinner is when I really feel like God allows me to catch a greater glimpse of what he has invested in them, and the unlock code to bring it out. Nothing else comes close. Leadership, it seems to me, is, in large part, unlocking the potential of people so that they are free to become that which they are intended to be. It's entering the unlock "code" for people so that they fully develop and are empowered to serve, worship, grow and reproduce the way they were intended to. By God's grace, may he continue allowing me to participate in his unlocking of people. It's so fun to watch them open up and "install" their unique contribution in the Body of Christ.