David Ogilvy, founder of the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather, regularly sent Russian nesting dolls to new members of his leadership team. The nesting dolls (pictured above) were hollow, and smaller dolls fit inside the larger ones.
Ogilvy taped the following message to the smallest doll:
“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, Ogilvy & Mather will become a company of giants.”
Excusing Ogilvy’s lack of political-correctness (he was running his business in the 50’s and 60’s), he had some prophetic ability. Today, Ogilvy & Mather is one of the largest and most respected advertising agencies in the world. Whether or not they are a “company of giants,” they are a giant company with giant clients like Dove, Mattel, IBM, Motorola, Cisco, Nestle, American Express and Coca-Cola.
In Christian ministry, we would call this concept good stewardship. You can’t be a good steward if your ego won’t allow you to hire someone more talented or more promising than you are. You have to think about what’s best for the ministry. How would Israel have fared if Eli had refused to take Samuel under his wing? Or what would have become of the Church if Barnabas had refused to lend Saul his credibility? These men have faded into relative obscurity when compared to their protégés, but that doesn’t make their contribution insignificant. They provided formative mentoring and/or resources that enabled their protégés to surpass them in impact and notoriety.
It’s not easy being surpassed (just ask King Saul how he felt about David, the shepherd boy). The humility required in this process is enough to make Eli and Barnabas giants in my book. (Yes, I know Eli was a mess, but he at least knew enough not to get in the way of what God was doing. Give him his props.) I suspect that God has a way of accounting for these men’s role in all the good ministry that was eventually done/is being done by Samuel and Saul-Paul.
We’re here to build a Kingdom, but it’s not our own personal one. Seek out those whom God has chosen for larger roles in the Kingdom and give them all the help you can to prepare them for the path He’s set before them. If they pass you on the path, know that your sacrifice is true servant leadership and that you are helping to build a Kingdom of giants for Christ.
(Info Source – Denis Waitley. Priorities (1/22/99) – reprinted in Reader’s Digest – 8/99)