Overcoming The Guilt Of Leadership Development


One of the top questions that has crossed my desk over the years is, “What are you doing about church leadership development?” This question usually comes from a senior pastor or senior level church staff member. The question is generally posed with a sincere sense of curiosity mixed with guilt that emerges as they explain that they know they should be doing more in the area of church leadership development but are uncertain about what really works and how to find the time to implement what they assume is a huge process.

After a number of years of study, experimentation and talking to both business leaders and church leaders, I have landed upon a framework for leadership development that is simple, effective, and practical.

Before diving into the details, here are a couple of foundational statements about who is responsible for church leadership development:

1. Ultimately each person is responsible for the development of their own leadership gifts and skills. It is all about owning a developmental mindset - looking at every life experience including meetings, teachings and conversations, through the lens of, “What can I learn from this experience?”

2. As a church, you are responsible for creating an environment that is conducive and supportive to the development of your key church staff and volunteers.

Once you understand the responsibility of leadership development, you can start creating a framework.

Step 1 - Identify
Your first step is to identify your target audience. You cannot invite everyone into a church leadership development process. Look across your staff and key volunteers and make two lists:

1. Emerging Leaders – These are generally young people or people who are newer to your staff or volunteer team, and you sense they could have potential to lead at broader levels in the future.

2. Proven Leaders – This would most likely be people who have been on your staff or key volunteer team. They have proven their leadership at their current level, and you want to do your best to keep them engaged and not loose them from your team.

Step 2 – Self Directed
Ask your emerging/proven church leadership teams members from the lists above to identify several skills or abilities that they want to learn, improve, or maximize. Give them support but allow them to own creating a plan to achieve the “next steps” they have identified. Encourage your team members to identify where they are now and their three action steps to get them to where they want to be six months from now.

Step 3 – Progressive
With the handful of people in your ministry area that you have identified as either an emerging or proven leader, give them the opportunity to progress though the levels of leadership. Understand that people will progress at different speeds, and be realistic that not all of the people you have listed as emerging and proven church leaders will choose to want to follow through and learn new skills.

Leadership development certainly needs to be intentional but does not need to be a massive time consuming program. The stewardship of the people is a crucial responsibility we all have in our churches. Don’t miss the opportunity to invest in others and build the kingdom.

How does your church implement leadership development among your staff and volunteers?