Developing Leaders Even When No One Is Ready

Have you ever looked around your organization for a new leader only to discover that nobody is ready? That can be the most discouraging feeling, but it doesn’t have to be your reality.

Today, I want to talk to you about three ideas you can use to develop those leaders who aren’t quite ready. Before we dive into these ideas, I want to share a concept with you. For those of us who have been in ministry, and I’ve been in ministry for over 30 years now, we know that season of the year, around August and January, when you sort of get sick to your stomach because it’s a new season of ministry ramping up. You look around, you go, “Oh, no, we need more leaders. We don’t have enough leaders,” and it always seems to be that time of year you get that feeling.

It’s also that time of year you start to look around for new leaders to put in those vacant positions. You’re looking around the organization and you go, “Well, he’s not ready. He’s not ready. She’s not ready. Oh, there’s somebody that’s ready,” and we pick that person up and we put them in the leadership position. Then, we go to our senior leader and say, “Hey, I just developed a new leader,” but, really, you didn’t. You just did leadership placement.

What I want you to understand, there’s a big difference between leadership development and leadership placement. I’m afraid that the local church today has really defaulted to a lot of leadership placement rather than leadership development. What I want to do is … To solve this problem, we have to start developing leaders who aren’t ready, so I want to give you three ideas that we can dive into that will help you begin to build those leaders who aren’t quite ready. Stay tuned until the end because I’m going to share a fourth bonus tip, as well. Let’s dive in.

Idea number one is look at people’s potential. See people for what they can be, not just what they are. I think, a lot of times, we just get comfortable looking at people as they are, rather than taking the time to imagine what they could be 12 months from now, 18 months from now. That could make a huge difference, if we begin to look at their potential and imagine what they could be if we develop them over time.

I think it’s interesting when you look at the life of Jesus. He recruited some men who weren’t quite ready. Think about it. In Matthew 9, he approached Matthew, who was a tax collector. He was despised by people. What was he doing at the time? He was collecting taxes. Jesus walked up to him and said, “Hey, come follow me,” and Matthew did. It’s fascinating because Jesus looked at him not for what he was but for what he could be. Jesus did the same thing with Peter and Andrew. He walked up to them as they were fishing. These were uneducated fisherman, and he said, “Come follow me.”

Now, he didn’t take these men and immediately throw them into leadership. No, he began to walk with them. He began to disciple them. He was teaching them how to pray, how to have faith. He was teaching them the basics of the faith before he really started developing them as leaders, but he took a risk on people. He saw them for their potential and began to make an investment in them. Look around your church. Look around your organization. Who is it that you need to take a risk on?

Idea number two is look for willingness not just readiness. A lot of times, what we do is we look around the organization and we’re looking for that new leader who is ready to plug in, a plug and play leader, but they’re just not ready. We have to learn to look for willingness, not just readiness. I will never forget when I learned this lesson. I was leading a small group … This is back when we planted a church. I was leading a small group and, after small group one night, this young man named Roger came up to me and he looked at me and he said, “Mac, I want to do what you do.” I said, “What do you mean you want to do what I do?” He said, “I want to learn to lead a small group the way you lead a small group.” Man, he said, “Man, we just feel like family, the way you lead discussion and the way you really network us together and connect us together and bond us together and help us really grow in our faith. I want to learn to do what you do.”

Now, the whole time Roger was telling me this, I was looking at him and, in my mind, I was thinking, “You can’t do what I do. You’re not ready,” but he was so persistent. He wouldn’t give up. He just kept pushing me, saying, “Would you teach me? Would you teach me?” Finally, I said, “Okay, Roger. Here’s what we’re going to do. I want you to show up to small group 15 minutes early next week and plan on staying 15 minutes late.” He did. Next week, he shows up 15 minutes early. We go upstairs in the room over the garage and I said, “Okay, Roger. One of the first things you have to learn as a small group leader is you have to learn how to build a sense of biblical community among the small group. Here’s how you do that,” and I shared five or six things on how to do that. Then, I said, “Okay, let’s go downstairs. Everybody is about to come in. I want you to watch me do this tonight.”

We went through group that night and then, that evening, after everybody left, he and I went back upstairs. We sat down and I said, “Okay. Tell me what you saw. What did you see me do right and then what did you see me do that I could have done better?” We sat there and we had a 15, 20 minute discussion about that. Next week, Roger shows up early again. I said, “Okay, this week, Roger, I’m going to teach you how to lead an icebreaker question. Here’s why icebreaker questions are important and here’s how you lead one. Watch me lead it.” Then, that night, after group, we went upstairs, took 15, 20 minutes. We debriefed it. Then, the following week I gave him the icebreaker question to ask the group. Again, went upstairs, debriefed it to see what he did well and what he could do better. We just did this week after week after week until, finally, next thing you know, Roger was ready to lead his own group.

Here’s what I learned from that. We have to learn to look for willingness, not just readiness, because, when we only look for readiness, we’re only going to do leadership placement rather than leadership development.

Idea number three is know what you’re looking for. If you’re not looking for readiness, then what are you looking for? I get this question more than any other when I’m working churches through the leadership pipeline process. People come up and always ask me this. What do you look for in a potential leader? What do you look for in a potential leader?

Here are three traits that I look for when I’m looking for a potential leader, and I call it TIP, T-I-P. First, T is teachable. Teachable. Is the individual teachable or do they act like they already know it all and have it all together? I’m looking for somebody that’s really teachable. I is integrity. Integrity. Is this a person that I respect, that others respect? Is it a person other people follow because they’re a person of character? P is passion. Are they passionate or are they passive? I’m going to tell you something. If you can find somebody that has a little bit of passion, you can teach them anything. When you’re looking for a potential leader, look for these three things, teachability, integrity, and passion. That’s somebody you can take some time and invest in. That’s the type of person you can begin to do leadership development with, rather than just leadership placement.

Okay, I said if you’d stick around til the end, I’d give you a bonus idea. Here’s the bonus idea, and it is my favorite. Give task before you give title. So often, when we are looking to fill a position and we’re identifying people that can fill that position, we measure the people against the full scope of that position. We can’t do that because we look at them and we go, “Well, they’re not ready to do that. They can’t do that entire job.” Well, of course they can’t. They’ve never done it before. We can baby step them there by giving them tasks along the way, before we give them the title. You give them responsibilities related to that role under your mentorship.

For example, let’s say that you needed to have a brand new children’s director. You find somebody that you think has the potential, you could develop them there. You can’t give them the title yet because they’re not quite ready for that, but you can give them task. For example, you could say, “Hey, I’m going to be recruiting a new children’s leader. I want you to come with me and follow me and watch me recruit a new team member.” Then, a few weeks later, “Hey, I want you to recruit somebody new to the team.” Then, “Hey, I want you to watch me lead one of our team meetings.” Then, “The next team meeting, I want you to assist me. Not lead the whole thing, I just want you to assist me in leading part of that team meeting.” Then, another time, “Hey, sit down. I want you to help me plan out this next quarter of activities for children’s ministry because planning is such an important competency related to this ministry.”They sit down, they help you do that. Then, next time, you can give them the opportunity to plan that. Here’s what you’re doing. By giving them task before you give them title, you are baby stepping them into the competencies they need in order to really lead in that position.

Thanks for reading and watching.

> Check out Mac’s videos here.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about developing your Leadership Pipeline.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mac Lake

Mac Lake

Mac is a pioneering influence in the church planting movement. In 1997, he planted Carolina Forest Community Church (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina). In 2004, he began serving as Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast Church (Charleston, South Carolina) where he served for over six years. In July 2010, Mac Lake joined with West Ridge Church to become the Visionary Architect for the LAUNCH Network. In 2015 Mac begin working with Will Mancini and Auxano to develop the Leadership Pipeline process. He joined Auxano full time in 2018. Mac and his wife, Cindy, live in Charleston, South Carolina and have three children, Brandon, Jordan and Brianna.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 “SHIPS” that Mark Great Leadership

Churches should be run by teams of volunteers—those committed to work together for the cause of Christ, serving one another and the world, because they have been gifted and called to do so.

Yet, this is an ongoing struggle for many churches. Perhaps it is an ongoing struggle for EVERY church.

When I was serving my church in Tennessee, I shared with them the kind of things we looked for in our ministry teams. We weren’t perfect, but we were looking for ministry teams that would be in partnership with the staff, would take ownership of areas of ministry, would be part of the fellowship of the church, and would be involved in apprenticeship to raise up new people to serve with them.

These four things—partnership, ownership, fellowship, and apprenticeship—are key for a church that is serving one another and a hurting world in the name of Christ. As such, let’s explore them one at a time.

1. Partnership

The first step to becoming a part of a ministry team is to exercise partnership.

At the beginning, most volunteers will speak of their ministry as “helping” a staff member—you want them to move beyond that and see their role as leading the ministry as a partner with the staff. They become co-laborers.

For example, at the church plant where I was teaching pastor in Tennessee, we had lay leaders who assisted with finances. They become key ministry leaders by altering their definition and expectation of their ministry. Rather than being a helper to me or the executive pastor, they became a partner with the specific staff member managing a financial area of ministry. It’s their ministry now—we are partners.

This shift in mentality will bolster leaders’ sense of responsibility and encourage forward thinking rather than simply taking orders. Partners in ministry take charge, working together to recruit other partners and to plan and oversee weekly responsibilities.

2. Ownership

The second facet of key leaders is their ability and propensity to take ownership.

When people see themselves in ministry as empowered, they eventually own their ministries. They learn about it so they can do it better (and leads others in that ministry). In order to be most effective, key leaders discuss the vision with staff members, read books about successful practices, attend conferences or training events, or contact ministry workers from other churches who have established similar ministry areas. As a result of their study, key leaders will be equipped to provide confident, informed leadership of their area.

Sometimes, lay leaders may feel uncomfortable taking ownership because they do not wish to overstep a staff member’s job description. Sometimes staff are too insecure to let a non-pastor own a ministry. However, staff members who understand the importance of raising up key leaders should express their desire for ministry partners to take ownership under their headship. Staff members and key leaders need to view their roles as partners with staff members equipping and key leaders owning.

3. Fellowship

The third important area within key leadership is that of fellowship.

Ministry team members within the church must be involved in the small group ministry of your church. Everyone who is serving needs to be in community—one is not exclusive of the other. Even pastors need to be in small groups.

Small groups are not simply a tack on to the important ministry that takes place in the worship service and preaching. Rather, people who do not move from sitting in rows on Sunday morning to sitting in circles in an authentic community will likely drop out of church, not grow spiritually, and not connect with others.

Without that connectivity, individuals can go through incredibly difficult times and remain isolated and without support. Thus, key leaders must lead the way into genuine community with other believers. Ministry teams must see it as normal to be involved in small groups. That’s the only way they’ll know the people with whom they are partnering in ministry.

4. Apprenticeship

In partnering, pastors equip lay leaders to do works of ministry. Through that partnership, ministry teams and key leaders take up ownership and say, “I will lead; I will own this area.” Ministry teams and key leaders then model and live out fellowship by being involved in community.

The final significant aspect of key leaders is apprenticeship.

As churches continue to grow, more and more ministry team members must participate in ministry and resolve to become key leaders. Otherwise, the foundational group of key leaders will be unable to sustain the growing numbers of people to whom they minister. For example, if an outreach team of three helps a church of 200 remember to do outreach by planning events and mobilizing strategies, an outreach team of five or six will be needed to minister to a church of 300. Similarly, as the number of attending families grows, so must the number of children’s ministry leaders.

Thus, churches must think in terms of multiplication of ministry teams and key leaders—more in partnership, ownership, and fellowship. As ministry team members commit to become key leaders, they should look for other individuals to come alongside and instruct in their specific ministry role. Since roles will expand as a church grows, key leaders must recruit and train new leaders to step into expanding roles.

Apprenticeship toward partnership, ownership, and fellowship will lead to a vibrant church life filled with multiplying leaders.

A Vision for Developing Leaders

Pastors, ministry teams, and key leaders must work together to create a healthy leadership culture in which ministry teams members partner with staff members to provide intentional leadership over an area of ministry.

Within that ministry, key leaders must take ownership over its implementation and its multiplication by practicing apprenticeship with promising volunteers. As key leaders engage in partnership, ownership, fellowship, and apprenticeship, they will afford their ministry area room to grow, and, as a result, do their part to ensure the continued growth of the church.

That helps us to move beyond church as a spectator sport and to look more like 1 Peter 4:10 where, “based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

> Read more from Ed.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how your church can develop leaders.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Common Scapegoats for Developing Leaders

Great leaders intuitively know they are responsible for future leadership, and all leaders have heard these catch phrases: “There is no success without succession” and “Work yourself out of a job and you will always have a job.” Yet few leaders plan and prioritize developing others. There is always something else to do, always an email inbox pulling leaders away from the importance of development. So instead, leaders can offer excuses rather than take the task of development seriously. Three common and very bad excuses are:

1. Those I develop may leave.

There is a fear that if you develop someone for leadership, that person will long to be deployed somewhere else, that there may not be a spot in your organization for the developed leader. In response to “If we develop our people, they may leave,” someone quipped, “If we do not develop our people, they may stay.” Much better to deploy people you have developed than to labor alongside indefinitely those who have not been developed. A group of stagnant people, people who are not growing and learning, is a miserable team to be a part of.

2. Things are so busy.

Yes. Yes, they are busy. And they will not be less busy in 18 months. But 18 months from now, you could have better leaders on your team carrying the burden with you IF you would develop them now. Developing others takes time, but it will take less time if you start now instead of six months from now.

3. It is not on my job description.

Sadly, though it should be, developing others may not be on your job description. But all the functions on your job description would be better fulfilled if you raised up other leaders. Developing others widens the influence of the ministry or organization. Developing others equips more people for the important work that is being accomplished.

These are really bad excuses. Don’t use them.

Read more from Eric.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.