Everybody's Replaceable – Really?

You hear this phrase a lot in leadership circles, “everybody’s replaceable”.

I think we throw it out there to keep us humble, to remind ourselves that the world doesn’t revolve around us and that things could go on without us.

And for those reasons there is merit to that statement, but I think the problem is that we carry this over into how we treat our employees.  We expect them to do their job, to be happy about it and to know that we think they are great.  I find myself often forgetting to verbalize directly to my team how valuable they are and what their contribution means to the organization.  Somehow I expect that they just know.

But I wonder how deep rooted my ideas of “everybody’s replaceable” are?  I don’t think I really believe it.  Every individual is unique.  In addition to the skill set that they bring to the role, they also bring their personality and God-given gifts that are uniquely their own and ARE NOT REPLACEABLE.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should never let an employee go.  There are plenty of cases where they are either not meeting the job expectations or are not fitting well with the overall team, which warrants termination.  I would just caution those of us who lead others to be careful to not treat everyone as if they are replaceable.  As managers I believe we have a responsibility to love and appreciate our team members which in turn brings out their best.  We have the great privilege of drawing out their giftedness and uniqueness and in that case…

Everybody is NOT replaceable.

A note to the Cross Point Team:

Ashley, Tom, Dave, Miranda, Jarrod, Matt, Butch, Anne, Ryan, Shelby, Jack, Chad, Eve, Jamie, George, Pat, Leslie, Pete,

Thank you for being uniquely you.  Thank you for pouring your heart into your role each and every day.  Thank you for loving people and loving God even more.  Thank you for relentlessly pursuing God’s best for you and for Cross Point.

For the many times that I haven’t said it…

I appreciate you so much!  I admire your giftedness and passion.  I’m honored to serve with you.

I love you guys!

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  • Heidi September 18, 2008  

    WOW… what a statement and what a challenge..

    Thank You

  • jan owen September 18, 2008  

    I think it would almost be better to remember WE are replaceable rather than think it about others.

    But yes appreciation is key – and if we believe that God brought us together for a holy purpose, then we must also believe that there is a unique and blessed contribution to be made by each team member not just of their abilities but of their spirit. They bring more than their talent and experience, they bring WHO THEY ARE. That is just as important I think.

  • Janice September 18, 2008  

    Jenni, I agree wholeheartedly! I’ve been in the corporate world for 40 years and have never heard anyone make this case. If more leaders had your attitude, I believe organizations would be amazed at the difference it could make.

    You are, definitely, uniquely gifted to lead.

  • waswrittenin September 18, 2008  

    I agree! AND… You’re not replaceable either! I just want YOU to know that 🙂 Have a fabulous day! Love ya girl!

  • Jenni Catron September 18, 2008  

    @Janice and @waswrittenin – thanks for your sweet words to me – love you both!

  • lisa gardiner September 18, 2008  

    Spoken like a true leader we are blessed to have you at Crosspoint !

  • ncarnes September 18, 2008  

    That’s a very good thought and point!

    That definitely should flow over into our families. My children are not replaceable, my wife is definitely not replaceable, and I would hope I am not replaceable to them. I wish more dads would look at it that way…”I am not replaceable to my children or to my wife.” I think we would have stronger homes and families.

  • Sumguy Namscot September 18, 2008  

    These guys are replaceable.


  • Maurilio Amorim September 18, 2008  

    I love the fact that once in my early days of ministry a very mean-spirited church member (I’m sure you’ll find that description hard to believe) came to me and told me that I was easily replaceable.

    Well a few months later I left on that church for BCC, and he was right, I was replaced. But they had to hire three people to fill all the jobs I was doing.

    Sweet revenge! 🙂

  • Pete Wilson September 18, 2008  

    Maybe a good distinction is “positions are replaceable, but people aren’t”. The reality is I can be replaced as pastor of this church. I have no doubt of that. I also need to realize and accept this in order to find balance in my life. The only place I’m not replaceable is at home. My kids can’t find another dad. My wife can’t find another husband (as long as I still hold the title of dad and husband).

    But, while my position can be replaced, my unique personality and style can’t. Therefore the most important value I add to the church I lead in is to be myself!

    Great thoughts Jenni.

  • Jenni Catron September 18, 2008  

    @Pete Wilson – good clarity… thanks for adding to it!

  • Dwight September 19, 2008  


    All I know is this: I’ve never had a superior to look at me through your eyes….which are the eyes of Jesus. I would be honored to work under you. I can hardly see this BlackBerry screen for the tears….

    In Christ,

  • Dad September 19, 2008  


    This couldn’t be more true. I have spent 30 plus years in a management role. I have heard this statement made way to offen. I agree 100% with what you have to say and wish management would appreciate the good employees they have. You can not replace experience and the good that employees bring to the organization. I have fought this battle all my life. Everyone is not replaceable.

    Very good point.

  • Tommy Sircy September 19, 2008  

    Can people be replaced? Not at all. My Dad can’t be replaced. My children can’t be replaced. My wife can’t be replaced.

    Now, we get to the real issue. Can God use someone else to do what we we are doing just as effectively as we are? You bet your bottom dollar He can.

    That’s where we get all confused about leadership in the church. We get the idea that God can’t get by without us. Everytime I hear someone in church leadership talk about I, I ,I,…me, me, me,…mine, mine, mine, I always draw a ragged breath.

    God is the ultimate leader. When our toes are pointed in His direction, we will talk about Him. Our desire will be to lead and equip the saints in that same direction. Our mindset will be bent toward selflessness.

    God uses us, not because he has to, but because He desires us, because in blessing others with our lives, He brings honor and glory to Himself. That alone should humble us beyond measure.

    Great post, Jenni.

  • brent(inWorship) September 19, 2008  

    I’m glad you wrote your thoughts on this. I have always wondered about this statement. It seems to me that people are unique and irreplaceable, but as Pete mentioned, positions or maybe process is.

    To say that everyone is replaceable is to say that people are not unique or valuable in their own right. God has gifted us to be “the body” not “the finger”. Each of us is truly valuable and unique.

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  • Eve Annunziato September 20, 2008  

    I LOVE this. Very well said. I agree 110%. Thanks for sharing your heart on this and thanks for loving, caring, and appreciating our team!! And, Jenni, you’re certainly not replaceable!

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