When I served as collegiate minister, I tried to get to know as many freshmen students as possible. When leaders come and go as they do on a college campus, you are always looking for the next generation of leaders.
Whether a minister is working with volunteer, part-time, or full-time people, she or he needs to have the same mindset. Although turnover happens less frequently in a congregation, leaders come and go more often than we would like.
Volunteers are those lay leaders who form the core of every church’s ministry. They teach Bible study for adults, youth, and children, work with preschoolers, lead in worship, provide maintenance and administrative support, and perform vital ministries both within and outside the walls of the church. Ministers need to identify, cultivate, and encourage these lay leaders.
Often in churches today, a gifted lay leader shows the potential to become a part-time staff member in a specialized area such as music, age group ministry, or mission leadership. Employment as a staff member is not the end of this person’s development but just the beginning. Ministers must provide not only supervision but opportunities for continuing growth to keep these part-time leaders engaged.
Ministers also have the opportunity to work with professional staff members with varied backgrounds and skill levels. Unfortunately, staff leadership is not often taught in seminary, but it is vital if a staff team is to be productive and healthy.
As I attended the first session of the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit today, I heard more than one speaker address this theme of leadership development. Whether one leads in a church, a not-for-profit organization, or a corporation, finding and developing good leaders is vital.
In his keynote presentation, pastor Bill Hybels asked participants to consider who placed the “leadership seed” in them by encouraging their gifts. He went on to challenge us to invest time in planting this seed in young leaders.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, identified leadership development as an investment in the future. She also emphasized the need for all types of leaders for organizational success with the comment, “We would have a more efficient world if women and people of all races and backgrounds has a seat at the table.”
I previously heard pastor Andy Stanley, another Summit speaker, ask the questions, “Who is going to replace you? Who are you developing to take your place?”
Whatever your leadership role, one of the most important tasks before you is cultivating others to discover and use their gifts for ministry. You may call it leaving a legacy, making an investment, or assuring the future, but developing others is vital to your leadership.