Leapers, Spanners, and Pavers!

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else (Galatians 6:4, NLT).

Early in my career as a pastor, someone told me that I was disorganized.

I immediately went home to tell my wife so that she could confirm my thinking that the criticism was false. Well, she didn’t confirm; she agreed.

Okay, I thought, “I’m disorganized and need help.” What should I do?  

Someone then advised that I hire a church administrator. Good idea, so I did it, and according to conventional wisdom, this story should have ended in organizational bliss.

Didn’t happen, and I began to think that it was the worst decision I’d ever made. 

I conflicted with my administrator from day one. We had many conversations attempting resolution, and during a meeting, one of us said, “We don’t even speak the same language.”

No wonder we were having difficulties.  

We both spoke English, but our approach to organization and leadership was so different that it seemed like we were not only speaking a different language but also orbiting around different planets.

Then, I did something amazing by hiring someone else who enabled me to work effectively with my administrator. And I confess that I realized the brilliance of my decision only in hindsight. 

Let me explain this hindsight.

By accident, I hired someone who could listen to my ideas and translate what I was thinking to my administrator in a language of practical faith that my administrator could understand.

Eventually, I realized that there are three leadership types:

  • Paver — my administrator.
  • Spanner — the person who understood both of us.
  • Leaper — me!

I now use the image of building a bridge to explain Leapers, Spanners, and Pavers.

  • The Leaper stands on one side of a river and sees that a bridge needs to be built to the other side and immediately begins jumping from pylon to pylon.
  • The Spanner then builds the appropriate connection between pylons. While spanning between the pylons, the spanner communicates directions and concerns to the Paver.
  • The Paver makes the bridge safe with guardrails and literally — paving!

Consider … 

  • A Leaper is highly visionary and speaks “Leaperese.”
  • A Spanner understands both vision and structure and bilingually speaks both “Leaperese” and “Paverese.”
  • A Paver makes new initiatives work efficiently through organization, structure, and policies.

All three work together to build a bridge that goes from one side of the river to the other, and cars safely drive on it without falling into the water.


Whether we are Leapers, Spanners, or Pavers, let’s remember the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to all leaders … 

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults [and strengths] because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace (Ephesians 4:2-3, NLT).

If you would like to read more about Leapers, Spanners, and Pavers, you can buy the book Leaper, Spanner, Paver at Discipling Another

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