The pastor moaned, “There’s no one stepping up to lead.” “There aren’t enough volunteers to run the food ministry,” complained the coordinator. “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field,” (Luke 10:2) said Jesus.
Excellent leaders and fruitful servants abound. The Father endowed everyone with gifts, passions, abilities and experiences which Christ purposes to bring ripe spiritual everywhere. But these gifted, fruitful leaders often start out hidden and buried right in front of us. Buried beneath layers of lack of belief, poor vision, insecurity, ridiculous expectations, and lack of love.
Great commission people will be daily looking for others to invest in. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Go, make disciples.” Those with “eyes to see and ears to hear” will find leaders in their midst.
What do we look and listen for? In my experience there are visible signs that someone, with your investment, will soon shine as a leader.
Look for people who assume responsibility, and refuse to blame others when things go wrong; and better yet, give others credit when things go right. Look for people who embrace learning, ask questions, and when corrected embrace the opportunity to grow rather cry, “well then, you can just find someone else if I’m not good enough.” Look for the courageous and “mavericky” spirit that asks questions about how things are done, or is unafraid to express a well-considered opinion – particularly when it pertains to a problem’s solution. Look for people who seem to put the good of others or the organization above themselves. Look for people who tend to have others around them and who invite or encourage others to do stuff and be with other people.
Spend time with your emerging leader. Reflect openly and personally with them the positive characteristics and potential that you see. You’re belief in them is an extension of the “shield of faith.” It clears away muddy lack of belief.
Invite the neophyte to join with you on your big mission to change the world by taking on a particular task, while explaining personally why you know them to be capable. Share your vision, and give them an opportunity to see how they fit into the larger picture which expands their own vision and empowers their God-given purpose.
Promise to be with them, guide them, pray with them, instruct and resource them along the way. Keep your promise. Insecurity and ineffectiveness are not resolved through pep-talks, but through learning skills and being given experiences to grow. This only happens when you do it with your “disciple”. And soon insecurity is replaced with confidence in God’s gifting.
Let the emerging leader emerge! Give immediate opportunity to do something, with your support. Something other than attending another class or waiting until their life meets your view of the perfect leader. I’m not suggesting you put a newbie on the board of administration, but too many churches are infantilized by leaders with ridiculous expectations of who can play any fruitful role in the life of the church. Everyone, at every stage of spiritual or leadership development, can and should be invited to contribute in some way.
Wrap it in love. Love is the life-giving living-water that softens the hardest soil to bring forth the sweetest fruit . . . over time.
Do this, and you will not lack for leaders, and servants who love you and your church as you partner together in Christ.
Or . . . you could just put another blanket announcement in your bulletin that you have a need. Though I suspect that even Jesus, if he had relied on a synagogue bulletin announcement, would have failed to acquire even 12 twelve disciples. Jesus with all His “Son-of-God” power and charisma, had to call each one by name, and invest years in loving, training, believing in, encouraging, forgiving and growing his movement-makers. So do you.