THE NEED FOR 21ST-CENTURY LEADERS
That do you see as the greatest need in the church today? Whatever the need, a few leaders cannot meet it. The needs of the church today call us to multiply leaders.
We multiply leaders by growing and developing Christians to a level of maturity and obedience for ministry. Every Christian is called to minister. Leadership development is a process that involves a commitment to equipping, training, and mentoring laity in at least six areas.
These aspects of leadership are interrelated, but the bottom three support and enhance the more important top three. Effective leadership requires character, vision, influence, and some understanding and development of style, skills, and SHAPE.
Someone has defined character as what we are like when no one is watching. Godly character forms the foundation of Christian leadership. Christian leaders must be authentic men and women of God. We must model and teach potential leaders to seek God, to surrender personal desires, and to serve God and others.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (NIV). Leaders must learn to spend time daily with God and take time to meditate on His Word. Potential leaders must learn to seek the face of God. Being a leader does not remove this responsibility; it increases it.
Christian character means we surrender our desires. Leaders must learn to want God's will more than they want their will. Jesus demonstrated this in the Garden before His crucifixion when He prayed, "Not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39, NIV).
John the Baptist modeled surrender when he said, "He [Christ] must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30, NIV).
One of the great obstacles to effective leadership is that potential leaders want their own way. Selfishness and self-centeredness hurt the work of God. God's will for the Church is far more important than our desires and wishes. It is His church, and He has given us the joy of following Him. If we want God to be glorified in our lives, we have to get out of the way so people can see Him.
Developing Christian character means becoming a servant. This is being willing to do whatever God wants whenever He wants and for any person, even those considered least. Jesus said, "If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, he must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people" (Mark 10:43-45, CEV).
Multiplying leaders involves character development and includes many values and attitudes such as:
- becoming a servant,
- showing humility,
- demonstrating grace and love to others,
- possessing endurance,
- living a holy life,
- modeling devotion and faithfulness,
- possessing a positive attitude,
- being full of hope and faith, and
- living a life accountable to others.
Without character, people cannot qualify for Christian leadership. Without vision they have no- where to lead. People with vision have direction, conviction, mission, purpose, dreams, objectives, intentionality, and goals.
Effective leaders are vision oriented. They know what they want to accomplish for God.
Paul said, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly" (1 Corinthians 9:24,25, NIV).
Imagine a young man preparing and training for several months for a big race. The day of the race he gets ready in the starting blocks and takes off at the signal. What would happen if after he runs 10 or 15 yards he stops to look for the finish line? He would lose the race and receive the laughter of the audience. Paul was not like this. He knew where he was going. He had vision. A runner cannot look back. To do so would risk tripping, losing stride, losing speed, losing courage, and probably losing the race. Instead, a runner strains toward the known finish line and presses with everything he has to reach the objective.
Developing leaders includes helping them discover a personal vision for the ministries they are to lead. Once they have discovered the vision for a ministry, it must be shared. This is often called vision casting.
Almost all great Christian leaders have two ministries in mind: the one they now lead and the one it can become. What do you want your ministry to be like 5 years from now? 10 years?Vision development involves helping potential leaders
- believe God wants to do something great through them,
- dream about the future,
- set objectives,
- make plans,
- become self-starters,
- lie awake at night picturing what the future holds,
- live out their commitments, and
- have hope and faith in the future.
Good leaders exert a strong, godly influence that attracts followers. If a man says, "I'm a leader," but turns around and no one is following, then he is not a leader in that situation. As John Maxwell says, "He's simply taking a walk."
As pastors and ministers we must lead laity to become full partners with us in ministry. One of the key doctrines of the Protestant Reformation was the priesthood of believers. Every believer can have access to God and be used by God. But equally important is the Pentecostal doctrine of ministry of believers. Every believer has a ministry and is important to the work of the church.
When Bruce Larsen pastored University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, his bulletin and sign in front of the church read:
Pastor and equipper: Bruce Larsen
Ministers: The members of the church
It is wonderful when people believe in their pastor. But it is more wonderful if the pastor believes in lay leaders. One key measure of your effectiveness is how many different lay leaders are involved in weekly ministry.
Influence development includes helping potential leaders know how to
- develop positive relationships,
- motivate others,
- empower others,
- work on a team and build a team (Mark 3:14),
- mentor and coach (2 Timothy 2:2),
- show consideration for others, and
- build a guiding coalition.
Character, vision, and influence are the most important aspects of leadership development. The other qualities, which I call the Three S's, support and enhance them.
Most authorities divide leadership into four major leadership styles: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. These styles are various combinations of directive (vision) and supportive (influence) behaviors. You and the leaders you develop can learn how to adjust leadership style for a variety of situations including the receptivity of followers; the culture, history, and socioeconomic background of followers; and the spiritual maturity of followers.
In developing potential leaders we help them discover their preferred leadership style, their backup leadership style, and the implications of their leadership patterns. An excellent resource for testing and explaining this is Norman Shawchuck's book, How To Be a More Effective Church Leader. (See sidebar, Leadership Development Books.)
There are several key skills vital to developing effective leaders. We seek to help potential leaders know how to
- assess their own strengths and strengths in others,
- manage their own contribution and the contribution of others on the ministry team,
- set priorities and put first things first,
- make effective decisions,
- lead a ministry through change,
- do effective time management,
- lead a ministry team, and
- effectively empower and delegate.
You must know yourself and your strengths before you can effectively lead others. Rick Warren uses the acrostic SHAPE to identify the five things God uses in our lives to make us unique.
S—Spiritual gifts. "Each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift" (1 Corinthians 7:7, TEV). These are abilities and talents given by God—special abilities we did not have when we were born.
H—Heart. "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23, NIV). Our hearts represent our motivations, our interests. God puts different core passions in different people because He wants all the variety of ministries to be accomplished.
A—Abilities. "God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well" (Romans 12:6, TLB). These are the natural abilities you are given when you're born. Some people are good with numbers, words, or people. Others have musical, athletic, mechanical, or artistic abilities.
P—Personality. "God works through different men in different ways" (1 Corinthians 12:6, J.B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English). God loves variety. In order for everything to get done in the world, He gives people different personalities. We're all different.
E—Experiences. We know what happens to us works for our good and fits into His plans. God uses vocational, spiritual, educational, and painful experiences to shape us.
THE PROCESS OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Commit. The first step is a commitment by the pastor and existing church leadership to develop leaders. This commitment recognizes that leadership development is a process, not a seminar or event. It also recognizes the need to allocate finances and other resources to leadership development. (See sidebar, Leading With an Emphasis in Developing People.)
Create. The second step is the creation of a multilevel plan for leaders and potential leaders at various stages of development in each of the six areas of leadership. This plan needs to include both specific training and ongoing mentoring. (See sidebars, Leadership Development Books and Leadership Development Resources.)
Start. The third step is to start with those in positions of influence, including the pastoral staff and church board. As they grow in their leadership effectiveness, they will use their influence to encourage others in their development.