The Risk of Vulnerability

Shan & Alan

Without the risk of vulnerability we will never enjoy true loyalty. One of the great delights of my life has been a five-year friendship with my successor,Shan Moyers. I never imagined that Shan would ever be on staff with me, much less the man that I would bless to lead the ministry we launched 29 years prior into the next season and beyond. My desire was to find a man with three qualities:

Character I could trust

Competencies I could respect . . . and a

Personality I could enjoy

By God’s grace I’ve found that and more. I’ve found a friend who has returned my blessing multiple times over. Shan and I are not exactly alike. He is far younger, taller and balder. None of that surprises anyone–well, maybe the balder part. What has surprised many is how close we are and how much we appreciate and honor each other. 

It’s all rooted in trust and common values. Here are three we share in common:

Love for the Lord 

Devotion to the Word  

Passion for the church 

Shan is a great fit for now and for the uncertain future. While Shan’s style of leadership is much different than mine, I believe that his approach is serving the staff and church very well as we face the new and increasingly complex challenges of our day. That’s why it’s not hard for me to continue to be a raving fan not only of Rocky Mountain Christian Church, but also of my successor. From the very beginning of my transition I made it clear to all that I didn’t want Shan to merely succeed me, but to exceed me. I want the next season of ministry to be our best!

We all move in the direction of affirmation. I love to affirm Shan both publicly and privately. I’ve got his back. Maybe that’s why Shan trusts me to the point of being vulnerable with me. He is surprisingly candid in our monthly marathon conversations. He not only tells me much of what he is thinking and planning, he also readily asks my opinion. It’s only on rare occasion that I’ve offered any unsolicited advice. Frankly, I’ve rarely needed to, because Shan is hungry for feedback and counsel. 

Feedback is not only the breakfast of champions; it is the lifeblood of leaders. However, no leader is able to receive “feedback” well from a critic or self-appointed expert. By contrast, when we know that we are loved, accepted and affirmed it opens up both our heads and hearts. We’re not defensive, we’re receptive. 

This morning after I celebrated with Shan, I then put on my big boy pants and challenged him. Once again he not only humbly received it, he actually accepted the validity of my counsel. Shan knows and believes that I’ve yet to have a day of regret about him coming on board five years ago. Even more, Shan knows that I actually believe that the next five years will be better than the ones before. I believe that the best is yet to be!

There is no success without a successful successor, and that is rooted in relationship. I don’t want my successor to be my clone, I want him to become far more than that. I want him to be God’s man and to always know that I will be his friend. After five years, I’m delighted to say that by God’s grace, so far so great!

Five years is a great start, but we’re far from finished. While Shan and I are no longer “in transition” we are still in partnership. It’s a partnership that is rooted in mutual trust. Yes, that’s risky, but the rewards are more than worth it. 

With whom are you vulnerable? When you answer that question I will tell you where you will enjoy your greatest rewards.

Grace and Peace,

Alan Ahlgrim
Pastor at Large


"We were able to spend a week at Blessing Ranch Ministries. It was an amazing week! . . . . We learned SO much during this week. It was a great opportunity for rest, reflection, prayer, reading and seeking wise counsel. We were blessed beyond words! Each day we would have sessions with Dr. Walker, time to reflect, homework (a lot of reading), and amazing dinners each night. . . I grew so much in my personal faith journey during this week." Missionary, Dominican Republic
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