Part 11: Raising Leaders
We will look at four leadership principles and how to bring through a leader. Firstly, leadership is God’s idea; it’s not some strategic plan painted by business gurus. God set leaders such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David in place. In every family, fathers and mothers are put into families as delegated authority to bring order and righteousness into a family. That’s the way the kingdom comes. The kingdom comes with the government of God, the authority of God, into a situation. So it’s God’s idea.
Secondly, God expects all people to lead in one capacity or another. You can’t say that this is not for me; this is for somebody else. If you believe in Jesus, you are ordained to lead. Let me prove it to you. When the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, one of the fruits of the Spirit is that you develop self-control as you begin to lead yourself properly. When you understand your faith, you are encouraged biblically to lead nonbelievers to Christ. If God gives you a family, mom’s, dad’s you; you are told to lead that family. Paul says in 1 Timothy 3, and then Titus, that when you’ve got self-leadership, right, and you’ve got home leadership, right, then you entrusted with church leadership, that’s essentially the qualifications of elders and deacons. God intends every single believer to be a leader. If you have the King of Kings, the governor of all governors, inside you, you can lead when we understand that, when a church gets this right. It begins to grow, not by addition only.
For example, I’m a pastor, and the church’s growth is limited to my giftedness. The church will grow according to how I grow! It’ll just grow according to the capacity of my gift. But if I’m able to replicate myself over and over and over and over and over again, and dozens of people start pastoring and looking after people and discipling people and leading people, now we are growing through multiplication, not merely through addition. This is how God’s glory will be seen across the earth. When disciples, make disciples and lead disciples who lead disciples. That’s God’s plan. So how does it work?
I’m going to suggest to you that there is a five-step process, there’s like a pipeline if you like, and if one of these steps in this pipeline is absent, you’re going to get a blockage in your production of leaders, whether that be in business, school, family, or a church environment.
Develop a Culture of Servanthood
The first step in releasing leaders is developing a culture of servanthood. You want people to serve because that’s how Christ led. He said, The Son of Man has come to serve, not to be served (Matt 20:28); when husbands are called to lead their families, they are called to lay their lives down to serve their wives and their families as Christ did for the church (Eph 5:21 – 25). The word the diakonos, for example, from which you get the word Deacon, or minister, means to serve. Create an environment where people are serving. When you see people serving, it’s from that pool that you pick your leaders. If you don’t have people serving, you won’t have people laying their lives down for the sheep. And so create an environment where people can serve. For example, if you’re running a connect group, create opportunities to serve. Opportunities to fetch, carry, do the teas, do the communications, share the word, organise social events, etc. The people that jump at the opportunities to serve are developing Christ’s likeness, and we find our leaders from that pool.
Call Leadership out of People
The next step is to call leadership out of them. In Mark 3:13, Jesus goes up to a mountain to pray, comes down, and calls the disciples that they might be with him. He picked them. Very few people will just raise their hands and say, “Pick me!” Most people need leadership called out of them. When you say to somebody, “I see leadership in you.”, “I see the potential.” “I see God’s hand on your life.” If you speak that over somebody, you identify them, you’re getting them into the process of leading.
Every leader should have a list of potential leaders that he’s praying through. In the back of my diary, I have a list of potential elders, and I’m praying through them constantly because you’ve got to identify leaders. If you are a Connect Group Leader, you should identify someone ready to lead almost imminently and one who could potentially lead further down the road, but you want to invest in that person and tell them. Tell the Lord, tell yourself, and write it down. You need to pick leaders to get the next part of the leadership pipeline: training.
When Jesus trained his disciples, he specifically told them where to go, what to take, how to handle rejection, what to say, what to preach. He did full-on training, and many churches will have training programs: You can put guys on training programs, and you should. But most training happens on the job rather than in classrooms. You, as a leader, should always do something with others. If you visit someone in the hospital, take someone with you. If you go pray for someone’s business, take people with you. If you’re going to go and do some marriage counselling, take people with you. When you lead your Connect Group, you should hand over areas of your Connect Group for others to lead. This is how we train on the job.
The next step is crucial. It’s getting ready to release them. You don’t just take someone and then just chuck them off the edge of the cliff and say, “All the best!” You will have very few people to stand up to lead after that! When you’re getting a kid to ride a bicycle, they’ve got those training wheels on. And so first, they ride with the training wheels. Then once they are confident, you take one training wheel off. You may have them leaning to one side for a while, but eventually, they balance just with one training wheel. Finally, you take them all off. But after that, you don’t just leave the kid on the top of a massive slope and say, “Go, buddy!”Instead, you run behind them with your hand under the seat.” Why? Because they need it. When someone’s about to start leading, you want to set them up for success. Let them win victories in the safe country. Set them up to do well.
I remember when my son first asked me to preach; he was about eight years old. I allowed him three minutes in a meeting I was in. But before he got up to speak, I made sure that he had practised in the mirror about ten times that he’d said it to me at least five times. Then I taught him how to use a microphone; I gave him a deodorant can and put it under his chin. And so when he came to speak, he knocked it out of the park. Why? Because he had been set up for success. It was just three minutes, but many hours of training beforehand. Now he just can’t get enough. You want to set potential leaders up for success.
The final step in the process is encouraging them until Jesus returns. Just because someone’s now leading and you’ve handed over leadership to them, you don’t wash your hands clean and say good luck. You encourage him! If you stop encouraging leaders and neglect them, they’ll get tired. They’ll say I need a sabbatical and bailout. And then, to get them back in the pipeline of leading again is very difficult!