Jesus chose twelve disciples. Why? I think the first answer that comes to mind is so the Gospel message would continue to be shared. And that’s a perfectly good answer but I think it goes deeper than that. I think He personally invested in individuals. He modeled that for us. He met his disciples where they were and spoke their language.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matt. 4:19
Today, I’d like to dig into leadership development and talk about why it’s important to engaging more people in ministry in our churches. Most churches need more leaders and yet they don’t know where to find them. They are already in your pews. You just need to invest in them. Develop them. Walk alongside them. Equip them and empower them to carry out their ministry. But if you don’t have much time or a formal system in place in your church where do you begin? I believe you begin with yourself.
I believe leadership is made up of character, attitudes, behaviors, gifts and skills. Let’s think about what you see in yourself and then what you can begin to see in others.
Take a few minutes and think about yourself. Describe what each of these areas of your life look like.
|Character||Attitudes||Behaviors||Gifts and Skills|
Now, what if each of your leaders in the church asked themselves what is my character, my attitude, my behaviors and my gifts and skills? Might something be lacking in all of your leaders? Could that be a reason why you can’t get more people involved in serving in your church? I think it’s a big piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed as you consider building a system to engage more people in ministry. Who am I as a Leader? Where am I as a leader? Where are the leaders around me in terms of character and skills? Where are our future leaders? Leadership first and foremost begins with God and our relationship with Him. But I believe it goes further than that.
Dig deep on these questions about your own growth. Ask yourself…
- How am I growing spiritually, intellectually, in relationships, and emotionally?
- What learning opportunities am I taking advantage of this year?
- What is on my reading list?
- Who would I like to learn from this year? (Schedule time to have a meal with that person and see what you can learn from them.)
- Who am I allowing to speak into my life? Am I spending enough time with these people?
Once you are growing yourself, you can think about bringing others along with you.
Next consider who your current leaders are and which of them you should be spending time with and helping them to grow? Let’s start…
Who are Your Twelve?
Senior editor of “Building Church Leaders,” Drew Dyck said, “don’t wait for new leaders to find you.” What great advice. What are you doing to seek out new leaders or develop current ones? He continues with these comments, “I encounter a lot of churches with a lackadaisical attitude about developing new leaders. People will naturally step up and lead, they seem to assume.
The problem with this approach is that people do step up to lead—but they’re not always the ones who should. If you rely on self-selection, you often get the loudest and most confident, but not always the most spiritual or competent. That’s why I believe you have to be intentional about selecting and training up leaders. So how do you do this? Well there’s a number of ways. I’ll share one today.
Build Relationships with Current and Potential Leaders
Each year I make a list of the top twelve people I believe God wants me to invest in. I don’t make this a formal “mentoring” but more of can we get together on a regular basis and talk. I initiate the contact and share with them my reasons behind wanting to spend more time together. Often it’s just to get to know one another better and build a stronger relationship. But other times I’m more direct. Perhaps someone has mentioned something they would like to move forward with. I ask if I might walk alongside them on the journey. My role is to encourage and invest in them.
Now you might think there’s no way I can take on twelve people. I’m just too busy. I promise, this is one of the most effective ways to build leaders and multiply ministry. If you’re still apprehensive, start with six and coffee with each one once every six weeks. You would be amazed at how setting aside just 1-2 hours of a week for leadership development can help. Meet over lunch on Wednesdays, for coffee after your Bible class – whenever works into your schedule and theirs but make it happen. Make that hour about them.
- What’s going on in their life?
- What are their challenges?
- Where is God leading them and what is He asking them to step into?
- How can you help? (Be careful here. Your job is not to pick up more to do but to ask the right questions and help them make connections.)
I promise you the relationships will be a blessing and you will have an opportunity to pour into many other individuals. Help these people to connect and engage with ministry in their own unique ways. Don’t force your ways on them.
Also don’t make this about you and your needs. It’s easy to slide into the trap of “I need someone to help me with this and you are in front of me.” Too often we want other people to be the solution to our problems. Rather than serving them. When we can learn to build our church ministries around the gifts and talents of our members our ministries will be more joyful and productive and less forced.
By following this approach, I’ve watched many different people develop and grow in their leadership over the last 10 years. For me, moving beyond, I am the leader of ____ to the idea that I am developing other leaders has multiplied ministry exponentially- because now they are doing the same thing- investing in others rather than controlling and protecting their area ministry. May God’s name be praised!
Remember to be open and look for the people and opportunities God has placed before you.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:3-5