By Chris McRae, BCI Discipleship Team Leader
One of the issues that continually crop up in ministry has to do with leadership development. In church life this means identifying, recruiting and training volunteers to carry on the authentic work of the church. It’s a cliché to acknowledge that every church needs an ongoing commitment to raising up leaders through some process of growth and development. But it is often at the first stage that we stumble out of the gate.
In small church settings or in churches that are just starting a group ministry, the quality of this first leadership group is critical for the ongoing success of the ministry. These men and women set the table for the direction that the ministry will take. Therefore, it’s essential these pacesetters are some of the best. Their “upfront input” will set the tone and direction for those who follow later.
Potential leaders can be found among those who have an observable relationship with God, are actively engaged in some aspect of service or ministry, and demonstrate a caring concern for the needs of others. Personality and gifting are also a part of the equation in terms of small group leadership dynamics. However, there are other attitudes inherent to the task of future leaders that are just as necessary. If I am going to invest the time needed for leadership development, I look for the following attributes.
- Faithful — Demonstrates a diligence to follow through on instructions and honors his word even when faced with unforeseen pressures. They display an internal impetus to complete assignments and fulfill responsibilities.
- Available — Is able and willing to take the time and invest the energy needed to consistently and diligently avail themselves of opportunities for ongoing training in leadership skills. Additionally, they are active in practicing spiritual disciplines.
- Insatiable — Excited to grow and to learn and to become more devoted to Christ and his kingdom and to learning to effectively and productively serve others both through the church and in the world.
- Teachable — Humble enough to recognize their need and willing to learn from me, to be corrected by me, and to follow my leadership. Has demonstrated that they are on the same page with the leadership and wants to contribute to the overall vision and mission of the church.
- Hopeful —Keeps a positive attitude in spite of setbacks and failure and will continue to strive toward maturing in his faith and growing in their ability to lead others toward spiritual maturity.
The bottom line in leadership development is to trust God to raise up qualified leaders. As with many endeavors in life we need not worry about getting things perfect. A part of growth is trial and failure…and trying again. There are both measurable and intangibles when it comes to leadership in the local church. However, we must not get bogged down with any “checklist of qualifications.” You’re looking for a heart of service, a passion for people and an interest in leading others on a journey of discovery and growth.