- Find out what they want. Everybody wants something. Now somethings will disqualify someone from leadership, people who want a lifestyle that doesn’t honour Christ, someone who wants to sow discord, but even among disciples of Jesus we have a variety of good motives and wants out of leadership. Most people will, especially if you are good at maintaining relationships will tell you what they want, others are less forthcoming and you have to work with that as the leader of leaders. Do they want to travel more, travel less, teach more, evangelise more, be in small groups more. Some things are impossible to accommodate, other things you could change and help your leaders find a better place and a happier place. Some people need a thank you in private, others prefer in private. Some people dream of international ministry, others would hate it. A big part of your job as a leader of leaders is to help get the round pegs in the round holes.
- Listen to them. I will admit I used to struggle with this, and the good news is I am improving. When I moved to Dagenham and planted a church, then started planted more churches, I had so much opposition it was supernatural. Everyone came out of the woodwork to challenge us, to tell us what couldn’t be done. I had to learn how to be tough, thick skinned and say no over and over to people who wanted to kill our Moses while it was still a baby. Now, twelve years on I am surrounded by people who love me and want Tree of Life to win, and I have learned to say yes. I still say no too, but it’s not my automatic when someone brings me an idea. We need to learn to listen to those we raise up. You are never the one with all the good ideas. You are just not that great. If you do use someone else’s idea, give them the credit and praise. Let everyone know how much they helped. Even if you say no, still thank the person for their idea and praise it. It’s probably not a bad idea, just not the best idea, so do that or you create a culture where no one can make a suggestion to you, you will miss great ideas.
Unless you are a leader of leaders you are not great. You are not the best. You might be smart, might be capable, might be charismatic, might be charming. However, if you are not leading leaders you are not reaching your potential. Your greatest calling is to raise other people to become leaders.
I will tell you the number one reason that most leaders do not raise up leaders. That most pastors cannot point to another pastor they have raised up. The answer is simple and stark: laziness. It is hard work to do it.
John Maxwell tells the story of a pastor who quit the ministry, and because of links to the funeral industry, started a new job as a funeral director. He said “I spent three years trying to help Jimmy, but Jimmy was still an alcoholic. I spent a year trying to help Steve and Susan’s marriage, but they still divorced. I spent two years trying to get Rob off drugs, but he is still on drugs. Now, when I sort them out at the funeral home, they stay sorted”. Yes – dealing with the dead is harder than dealing with the living, but it is not as rewarding.
Living humans need constant work. Just when you think they are getting somewhere they take a step backwards, and listen carefully – developing and raising up people is a whole magnitude harder than just nurturing and comforting people. Any fool can prophesy, but to pastor and raise up pastors takes energy, will, effort and care.
We must go beyond caring for people and helping them grow. We must stop focusing on people’s needs and focus on their potential. It’s more than relationships, it’s transformationships we need – relationships that transform people and bring them to the next level of leadership.
I am not a manager, I am not a repairer of broken machines, I am a pastor, and I am a leader and I raise up and bear the fruit of leaders. I am not here to maintain Tree of Life until I die, I am here to multiply it, I am not here to establish anything, I am here to release something. That is the challenge for every leader and pastor, and one we absolutely must take seriously.
It’s great to help people but how about we mentor them. It’s great to meet needs, but let’s shape characters. Some people will sulk when you give them what they need not what they want, do it anyway. It’s about growth that spans generations. Too many churches pass away when leader #1 passes away, but the truth is there is no success without a successor.
It is hard work to do this but the survival of the church is utterly dependant on it. Stop being a poor leader and start being a great leader. Help others be their best self, develop good character, and reach potential.
I meet my pastor’s every week, on Zoom as we live so far away from each other. I have a loose structure for these meetings.
- THE POSITIVE. Always start with the positive, either I tell them something positive – we have paid this conference in full, we are ready for this, we are planting a new church, God said this to me, or I let the pastors tell me the positives of the weekend – people who got saved, new people, healings, people growing and stepping out.
- THE FUTURE. We need to inspire people to look forward. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day work of ministry we forget we as a fellowship of churches are going somewhere. We need to keep casting vision of the future, and let people know where we are going. It helps inspire people and also a little intimidation to make them realize if we are growing they need to grow too (in a good way)
- THE CONTENT. I don’t do much in the way of this or that, in these meetings i am normally reactive. Someone will suggest they have a problem, and I and often the others in the team will give advice on how to handle that problem.
- FINALLY, ADMIN THINGS. We need to make sure people know what they need to know!
These meetings often last two hours or more because we are also fellowshipping, joking, learning about each other, finding out we often face the same problems. If you make sure these four things are there, with a healthy dose of fellowship then you will have good leadership meetings.
How often should you check up on people who you have given leadership positions or roles too? It depends! On…
- How important is the task. If your church is going to fail if the task is not done, it’s a good idea to check up quite a bit. There’s nothing wrong with you getting more involved in the most important and crucial areas of your leadership!
- How hard is the task. If you have given someone a very hard and taxing job, you need to check up on them and encourage them more, answer questions more, and help them more. You need to make sure the person is supportive as much as possible!
- How new is the person to the task. If they have never done it before, keep an eye on them. If they are adaptive and have done it before, then that’s probably fine to let them get on with it.
- How new is the person to any task. If someone is a new leader, they don’t know you as well, how you work, how you solve problems. Also they have no track record of success. You need to ensure they develop confidence and a flow quickly.
- What is the person’s track record. There are some people I can leave jobs with and I know they will get on with it, others need more oversight. That’s just life!
When I check up on people I will start by asking how they feel about the job they are doing, I also tell them how I feel about them doing it. Then we look at what they have done and how well it has been done. I ask if there are obstacles, often one of the best things you can do as a leader of leaders is remove obstacles.
Then give some constructive help and feedback, encouragement and motivation. Thank the person for what they are doing.
Doctrine is vital to a healthy Christian life, it is similar to the skeleton of a human body, providing shape and strength to your faith. There are several doctrines which are more important than others, and we have to know what the Bible teaches on these things, and build on these things as a foundation.
Paul told the Hebrews that they should be teaching, but he was having to teach them the foundational basics again. In this course, we will examine those basics and make sure that we can not just know them but share them with others.
For when the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness for he is a babe. (Hebrews 5.11-12).
So, we need to learn the first principles so we can grow up and mature. We ought to be teachers – all of us have a moral obligation to learn the Word so well that we can help other people.
So, for this course on doctrine, we will focus on these first principles. The New Living Translation calls these the “basic things”, and this is – absolutely – where to begin. The Greek here gives the impression of the things we need to learn first. Like if you are learning to drive, you need to learn the controls first, before taking off.
For some people, some of these sessions might be revision, but it will not hurt you to hear it again, for others this will be a new foundation that will help you build a house and build it strong on the rock. So, what are these basic things?
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go onto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgement (Hebrews 6.1-2)
The first of these foundational doctrines is “repentance from dead works”, and this is where to start.
What is Repentance?
Repentance in the Greek is the word “metanoia” and it means to turn your mind or lift your mind. Repentance is a change of thinking, especially in terms of how you think about God, about yourself and about life, in such a way that there is fruit in terms of a changed life. The best definition of repentance is to change your mind about something. It might be that you stop thinking “Hey, it’s ok to live for myself and do whatever I want” and start thinking “I am going to live to please Jesus”. That is changing your mind. Now, there either could be emotion in that change of mind, or not, that is not actually relevant, what is repentance is that you change your thinking.
We must start by grasping that repentance is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. Many times, preachers will try and work people up into an emotional state and then call them to repent, either to become a Christian or to become a better Christian. But because repentance does not flow from emotions then that kind of meeting leads to someone falling back from their repentance or commitment, the emotion runs out and they feel let down and they have no substance to their changes or commitment. Repentance does not flow from the emotions, but from the will. We need to reach people’s wills and expect people to change their will, to see permanent commitment from people.
There are people in the church who are not born again, they have never turned from dead works. They are going to church, but they are not part of the church because they have never repented from dead works. They have never changed at a volitional level; they have never made a decision. Others are born again, they have believed in Christ, but they have never let that faith infect their will, so their joy is short-lived and their Christian walk is dysfunctional.
Repentance is a change of mind, but it is not a change of mind that does not lead to results. Repentance is a change of mind that ends up with a change of direction. You cannot say you have changed your mind about a topic, but you are still behaving the same way. That is not repentance, repentance brings results. Repentance is not “I change my mind about going to share my faith with this person or giving this gift” and then not doing something. The Hebrew word for repentance means to change path to a path going the other way. You have been thinking without God and so you turn around and now think with God in your thoughts, that is absolutely repentance.
What Are Dead Works?
Most people will define dead works as works that lead to death, but I am not sure that is the best understanding of this phrase. Dead works can easily be good works that are not energised and inspired by the Spirit of God. Any work we do to please God has obscured the cross for us, and do is a dead work. Anything not of faith is sin (Romans 14.23) and often we – as Christians or non-Christians – are doing things to try and impress God, impress other people, prove something to ourselves, or whatever. That is a dead work, you cannot please God by works, you can only please Him with faith. You cannot access the presence of God by works, only by His grace. You cannot work your way to heaven, it is a gift.
A person may be a very good church goer, a very good giver, said all the prayers in the book, but if none of it was done In faith, it was a dead work. It is something we need to turn from.
Only faith in God and His Word gives life to our faith and our behaviour and our works.
Repent and Believe the Gospel
There is no Bible verse that says “believe and repent”, but Mark 1.15 says to “repent and believe”. If you are struggling to believe God in a particular issue, often the reason is that we need to repent and change our thinking on that issue. There is a reason that repentance is the first of these six foundational doctrines, if that foundation is not in place, everything else ends up wobbly.
As a pastor, I have found that around half of Christian problems are caused by poor thinking on an area, and it is because of a lack of repentance, a lack of changing how you think about a particular issue. People like to hold onto their own thoughts and not embrace God’s thoughts.
This is why repentance is the first basic thing we need to look at. Imagine we started this module with the nature of the Trinity, or the integrity of the Bible, and you did not really believe Jesus was God or a certain account in the Bible. If you did not know the importance of repentance, you would not know to change your limited, small, self-centred thoughts and change them into big, Godly, life-changing thoughts.
But most Christian problems are caused because people do not repent, they do not change their mind. They have never come to the place where they say “what I think I will not hold tightly” and “what Jesus thinks I will think”. People have not surrendered to the truth that Jesus is Lord, Jesus’ thoughts are the right thoughts, and His will is the best thing for anyone. Because of this, people still make their decisions based on “well, if I do this, will it be best for me” rather than “will this bring glory to Jesus”. So, we have a lot of Christians, sadly a lot of young Christians, but certainly not limited to young people, who are basically double minded. A double minded man is unstable (James 1.8) because their foundation is not solid. If the foundation is not solid, if the basic things are not in place, then your building is not going to be stable. You need to decide that you want to live a life of repenting – you will change your mind whenever you find that your mind and Jesus’ mind do not think the same.
Unstable people change their mind on Sunday in church, and then change it back Monday, then change it again on Tuesday, then so on and so on. They are actually living in the worst of both worlds – and they need to truly decide to live the repentant life – I am going to think what God thinks.
The Parable of Repentance
There is a parable that illustrates repentance more than any other parable. It is the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is found in Luke 15.11-32. You all know the story, the young man got his inheritance early, squandered it, lived selfishly, and then a famine came and the only job available was feeding the pigs. So, the son is broke, hungry, dirty, stinky, and things of eating the pig food, and then something happened:
When he came to himself, he said (Luke 15.17)
This is what I mean when I talk about repentance, it is the moment you come to yourself, and start to see what the truth is. You have to see God the way He actually is – a good Father, and you have to see yourself the way you actually are – a messed-up pig farmer.
When he came to himself, he said “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me like one of your hired servants. And he got up and went to his father” (Luke 15.17-20)
Can you see repentance in this passage? He changed his mind. He stopped seeing himself as someone demanding his rights and his inheritance and his ministry and his this and that, and started to realize he was being selfish, ignoring his family, and walking in rebellion to God’s plan. This is why so many people – so many Christians – never walk in their destiny, they never change their mind about anything. They hold things very tightly.
But this man did not just make a change of mind, he decides to walk back home. That is repentance – making a decision and carrying it out. Repentance means going back to the person you offended. Repentance means, in the larger picture, coming back to the God who loves you and say “God, I have not been able to make it on my own. When I lean on my own understanding, I messed it right up, I can’t get it right but I keep trying. Will you please receive me and show me how to live with you, I cannot live without You and Your love and Your wisdom”
Now, if you mess up against God and you abandon God, and you come back, one think that always happens is that we start to doubt that God will take us back. This young man had a speech prepared when he saw his father, “make me a hired servant”. But when he made his way back, he found out His Father was waiting for Him. That is such a powerful image of God, when we begin to turn to Him, He is waiting for us, He is hoping the best, expecting the best, and it is awesome. The father saw him a long way off and ran to meet him. The father kissed him and he never let his son get through his speech.
The son wanted to work for his blessings, but that is another thought we need to repent of. God does not want us to work for our blessings, God wants us to have the best robe, the ring on our hand, the sandals on our feet and eating fatted calf (see Luke 15.22-23).
This is such a powerful picture not just of genuine repentance, but a picture of God’s eternal and consistent response to repentance. And it all started when the prodigal son came to himself. He looked at his thoughts – “I want my inheritance, I can do it better on my own, life is better without a family, selfish pleasures can be bought”. And he realized that those thoughts mess up your life. Those thoughts lead you somewhere, and you want to end up somewhere better you need to change your thoughts. When you change your thoughts, you start to head back to your Father, and you find that God is already waiting and always willing to show love and grace to us. That is true repentance.
What Is False Repentance?
A false repentance never affects your walk. It could be described as remorse. Judas regretted what he did to Jesus, but it never changed his walk:
Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” And they said “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself (Matt. 27.3-5)
Judas had remorse, but he did not repent. He just did not change. You can get so hard hearted that even if you regret and even hate your sin, you do not change. I believe that when God starts approaching you about changing the way you think, it is always a holy moment. If you shrug your shoulders during those moments and go “I don’t really care, I will just keep doing it my way for now”, that is never going to lead to a good place. The most critical moments in our lives are the moments God speaks to us and challenges us to repent and think differently than the way we were before.
What Leads Someone to Repent?
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2.4, KJV)
If the goodness of God leads us to change and to repent, then it is despising and ignoring the goodness and grace of God that makes us fail to repent. Another character who suffered great remorse without repenting was Esau. I always look at Esau carefully as someone who missed his birthright and destiny, as I think there is a bit of Esau in all of us. God freely offers us His goodness and grace and we fail to recognize it, we despise it and we ignore it.
Imagine you are praying about having a ministry of your own – pastoring a church, for example. But you were going about it the wrong way, you are trying to rip apart another church to gain followers, if you were running from conference to conference getting different people to lay hands on you because you think that is the key, if you are being harsh with people and vying for position. So, God starts to speak the Word to you to get you to think His Word and His way. Luke 16.11-12 says:
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
To be released into ministry, you have to start giving generously, and start serving someone who is already in ministry. That is non-negotiable, that is the thoughts of God. If God starts laying that on someone’s heart but they reject it and go back to their own way, then they will never be in ministry. Repentance will lead you into your destiny, it will lead you into your riches, lead you into your freedom, your healing. You have to stop thinking your way and thinking His way.
Esau had a destiny, a birthright, a calling. But he rejected God’s goodness and grace.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord, looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up causing trouble, and by this many become defiled, lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright (Hebrews 12.14-16)
Esau was not looking carefully! We all must look carefully, as these little foxes can get into all of our minds and cause us to hate the grace of God.
- A Root of Bitterness
- I have found that nearly everything God does in our life He does through people, so satan immediately starts to try and point out a flaw in those people, so we get bitter then we cannot receive from them and then fail to walk in God’s grace. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We have to choose God’s thoughts and receive the people God brings to us and respond to them. There are people who leave churches bitter every day, and they then fail to et to where they need to be.
- This will always take you away from your destiny and your freedom and the good life. It is amazing how the act of fornication is always surrounded by thoughts that justify and “make right” that selfish act of misuse of God’s creation. You will never be free from fornication unless you get free from the thoughts surrounding it like a fortress.
- The word profanity here means godless. A person who lets thoughts go through their mind and lead them without ever putting God in those thoughts or considering God once. This is where Esau got into trouble. I cannot see in Scripture where he was involved in fornication, but he did sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. His attitude was the same attitude as fornication – to give up your destiny to please your body. He looked at his destiny and hated it. He despised the grace of God that gave him his calling and swapped it for a bowl of stew.
- He had the birthright, he was the elder son. It was purely God’s grace that he was firstborn. But he could smell the soup and so gave up his birthright for something that he could sense. He did not trust God to come through for him.
- Esau thought “my birthright cannot help me here, I am hungry, I need something I can take right now”. I have seen people make that exact same decision, “I am lonely, and I need someone right now” and they end up with someone who rips their heart apart. They fail to think of their wife and their children and their birthright, they fail to think of anything but their senses. I have seen people offended leave the person who could actually help them but they want to be in ministry right now and will not wait.
- If you despise your birthright, you cannot walk into what God has for you unless you repent and change those thoughts for thoughts about God’s goodness and grace. If you turn you back on the inheritance that you have in Christ for some cheap, temporary, worldly pleasure, you will need to repent and change your thinking and direction to get back.
The Hard Heart Struggles to Repent
Hebrews 12.17 says “You know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears”. Esau’s heart had become so cold and his mind so unused to thinking God’s thoughts, that although he regretted losing his inheritance, his thoughts were of regret and his pain and his loss, and he could not replace them with godly thoughts about God’s goodness and grace. He was looking to repent but his heart was so hard, he could not. In this life, the grace of God never gives up on you and there are always second chances as long as your heart beats, but you can mess up your mind so badly that your thoughts are so warped and selfish that you cannot repent. That is a dangerous place to be. That is a very serious thing to say, but I want to make it very clear, and we could not talk fully about repentance without saying this.
Far too little is said about repentance when it is the foundation of the Christian life and the starting point to maturity. You have to build your Christian life on the truth that if you encounter at any point that God’s ways are not your ways, you will change your thoughts and your ways. If you do not live a repented life, you will never have a strong faith or a strong walk with God, it will always be wobbly. You will always be up and down, in one day out the next. You need to lay the foundation stone of repentance. I will turn away from living for me, thinking my thoughts, pleasing me, and doing my own thing. I will turn to God, face God and say, “Here I am, what do you want me to do, and I will do it”.
That is the life you need. Now if you have never made that commitment to God, you need to find time and space to do that. Even if you have, it is never wrong to remind yourself and remind God that you are committed to doing things His way. Let Him show you exactly what those things are, and if you need a softer heart, ask the Lord to show you what thoughts you need to change most urgently.
Repent and Believe
Repent and believe was the message of John the Baptist, and then the message of Jesus. We have to repent so that we can encounter Jesus, and then we need to repent so we can continue to walk with Jesus. Every part of our walk with Jesus needs repentance.
Imagine I preached at a healing meeting, and I call people forward for healing. Let us imagine there are some pagans in the meeting, and they have prayed and gone to pagan gods for healing. Before they can believe Jesus is the Healer, they need to change some of their thoughts. They need to stop thinking these pagan gods have power, they need to think that God has power. Now if I preach well, they will be repenting all throughout the service and changing their thoughts. But it is not harmful to mention these sorts of things specifically and speak to people. Certainly, one on one, it can be the key that unlocks people to receiving by faith in all sorts of different areas.
If you wanted to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues, you would have to repent of the thought or imagination that you have it all already. If you want to receive from a preacher, you will have to repent of the idea that you are so much superior spiritually to them that you cannot listen to them when they speak. We need to talk about this process – and call it by its Biblical name – repentance. Luke 24.46 tells us that we need to preach repentance to all nations. Everyone needs to know they need to change their way of thinking.
Then when the church first started, on the day of Pentecost, the people were convicted by Peter’s preaching and they wanted to know what to do to be saved. And Peter tells them the answer: Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38). We have three of the basics right here – repentance, the water baptism and the Holy Spirit baptism. God does not change the basics, and one of the basics is repentance. The church needs to preach repent. We also need to preach water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism.
Paul says in Acts 17.30 that God commands all men everywhere to repent, that is so clear. No one is omitted and there is no place omitted. Repentance is universal, we all need to do it.
Finally, Paul says in Acts 20.21 that his message was “repentance to God and faith to our Lord Jesus Christ”. Notice, once again it is repent and believe. Until you change your mind and realize you are a sinner and you run your own life, you will not believe in the Saviour. So, repentance precedes saving faith, and it precedes trusting God for healing, for deliverance, for prosperity. The New Testament is utterly consistent about this – we need to change our thinking. All men everywhere – that includes you and that includes me.
If you give someone a position of leadership, they have what is called delegated leadership. They should have some latitude and you should definitely give them space to be themselves and be creative, but if you gave them the position and platform (and in some cases pay their salary) then their leadership is delegated and they need to lead people the way you want them led and leave their ego behind.
When you give someone a position of delegated leadership, you are giving them three things, and if any one of them is neglected then their leadership is wonky. These three things are:
- RESPONSIBILITY. This is the easiest one to give someone, you want the people around you to be responsible and you expect it. To be a success in life is all about taking responsibility. You should be choosing leaders who are already responsible – for themselves, for their families, with their money, at their current career and whatever else they are doing. So, generally they take that responsibility into whatever task you make them a leader in.
- EMPOWERMENT. This is hard for many leaders to give away. If you give someone the responsibility to get something done, you have to resist the urge to control every detail of what they are doing. People do not develop unless they have freedom to do things their way. You cannot give someone the responsibility to get something done with out giving them the power to get it done. That means helping them, empowering them, giving them the right equipment, ensuring others know they are in charge, and so on. Notice, one thing we cannot give someone is the power to be respected, but we can give them the right to be respected and the space to earn it. Part of responsibility is developing respect with others so that they follow.
- We need to give people the position of power, ensuring people know the org chart and who they are reporting to and so on. Then you give people the capability of power – make sure they have access to training so they can do what you have asked them to do. As you hand these other, you expect anyone you have given delegated authority to develop true leadership by developing integrity, and character, and working on their walk with God and their love for others.
- We need to make sure people have the tools they need. And more than one tool! This covers basics like a laptop or printer maybe, or a business card, it also includes books, training courses and seminars. Be creative in providing tools for your people. It’s one of your main jobs as a leader of leaders.
- BOUNDARIES. Any authority that is delegated is not ultimate authority. It has boundaries. All authority has boundaries, a manager might be able to tell a worker to get a report done at 3pm, but he cannot give him work at 9pm after he has gone home. A pastor can stop someone prophesying falsely over others in the church service, but he cannot control what the person thinks or does at home. All authority comes with boundaries, and part of raising leaders is helping them see where the limits of their authority are. I have raised up many pastors in the last few years, and we have to make sure they know their authority over elders, deacons and people who come to their church is very limited with specific Biblical principles. Also, in the Tree of Life Family of churches, pastors are not free to run their services or small groups any way they want, they have some freedom but not absolute freedom, they have some power but not absolute power. People need to realize where their jurisdiction lies and where it does not, and that is not always instinctive and is something you need to think about when appointing people. When a pastor appoints elders, sometimes those elders think their job is to control the pastor rather than make disciples That person needs to be taught their boundaries and limitations.
- Another aspect of boundaries, is making sure leaders are accountable. People should not be afraid of accountability, they should appreciate it. People need supportive, constructive criticism, and if you are the one raising them as leaders, it’s your job to provide it.
People cannot get better at doing things without doing them. You cannot learn to drive a car by reading a book. People forget a lot of what you tell them but when they are doing things they remember.
John Maxwell has a 5 M process to letting people do things, which I think is awesome and I try and utilize myself. Some people can do this instinctively, I can’t and need to keep coming back to this, and try and get it right again.
- MODEL. You do it while they watch. Make sure they see you start the process of. Don’t show someone how to use your church database unless you show them how to turn the computer on. People need to see every step to learn. When someone KNOWS it, next stage.
- MENTOR. You do it, and let them help. You at this stage tell people why these things are important. When they can see WHY, next stage.
- MONITOR. They do it, and you help. You also encourage the person while they are doing it and inspire them to keep trying and work at it. When they can do it CONSISTENTLY, next stage.
- MOTIVATE. They do it, you do not help – you only inspire and motivate and encourage. That’s it. Let them suggest ways they might be able to do it better and discuss those. When they can OWN it, next stage.
- MULTIPLY. Maxwell says this is the most important stage, when you encourage your new person to find someone to model the task to. Then you can get on with the stuff you really wanted to do in the first place.
You cannot make someone a better leader if you do not relate to people. You need to see people outside of a workplace setting, you need to let people be in a place where their guard is down. You need a relationship strong enough with someone where they can stop pretending.
Do not assume because people are Christians that they are automatically authentic – they come to church and try to be who others want them to be. Someone recently told me I was hard to please and they had tried to be who I wanted them to be. I said just be you, and that’s good enough. But a lot of people are not at that place and you need to build a stronger bridge to them.
The better the relationships you have with people, the more likely they are to trust you with their life and heart, and the easier it is to transform them into a leader.
Make sure it’s not a one-way relationship either, let people know your dreams, and your struggles (use some wisdom, don’t share something that will crush people – I have to be careful for example sharing the bills that come my way as they burden some people so much). We need to share our hearts with people too!
Don’t try and make someone a leader without that relationship and without it being on their side too. Ken Blanchard says do not equip people who are merely interested in you, but equip people who are committed to you. We can take that and put it here in the context of developing leaders – some people are interested in you and what you do, others are committed to it. The way you tell is that people who are interested in what you do will get involved only when it is convenient. For example we have our annual summer family conference this week, some people will come no matter what, they will change their world to be there. Those people are committed. Others will come for a session or two, out of curiosity, if it doesn’t interfere with everything else they have on. Those people are interested. Our leadership conference Gates of the City, and our annual conference, really help me realize who is interested in Tree of Life and who is committed, and who to invest in as new leaders. Selah.
Unless someone is committed to you, they will never be a successful leader. Someone once said that some people are so uncommitted that if they were a kamikaze pilot they would be able to do at least fifty missions. I am not shy about letting people know it is hard work to be a leader. In my field, the church, I let people know being a pastor is tough. Doing it right is tough. Loving people and leading them to green pastures and still waters is not easy. Caring for people is not easy. I will not undersell how tough it is or what it is going to take, so that I only attract the committed. Of course, no matter what you say, people won’t realize until they are in the trenches, but at least they cannot say I didn’t say! If people will not commit, do not waste your time on them.
You are a leader, therefore you have a dream. You have a great big dream driving you forward. Now is not the time of your life to keep that secret, and the people you are raising up in leadership are not the people to keep in the dark.
Dreams are fuel to the heart of leaders, so share yours. Every leader is a dreamer and dreamers are fed with dreams, so share yours. Your dream and seeing you walk it will only ever help those you are raising up as leaders.
It also means that people will know where you are coming from, why you do what you do, and what motivates you. That is only going to help build the kind of relationship that will absolutely help you raise up more leaders.
All leaders have a dream or they shouldn’t be leading. All leaders should have the ability to share their dreams and communicate them so that people can follow them and grow with them.
You need to dream, you need something inside you bigger than yourself. You need to feed your own dream, you need to make sure people are feeding your dream. You need to walk in your dream and you need to then feed it to others and inspire them. That is the process and if we all did it, we would all be so much better off.
- Is this person compatible with you? I mean it, someone might have great character and great capability, but if they are incompatible with you then you will not be able to help them develop as a leader. Someone might have the character to be a great elder, the capability to be a great elder, but if they cannot be an elder that embraces the values of Tree of Life, our philosophy, the things we emphasise, the way we do things, then I will not consider appointing, promoting, mentoring or training that person. If someone is not committed to doing things your way and flowing with you, there is nothing you can do to make them a leader. At all. Ever. No exceptions. No, not even one. No, not even that person. I know they are gifted but that is not enough. (I am assuming you know how things are done around where you are, and I am hoping it has been written down in some way!)
- Is the person growing? Are they moving in the right direction? Are they reading? Are they developing? Can you see them grow? Can you see them making good choices to help them grow – are they in church consistently, what is the weakest excuse they have ever given you for missing church, will they be at Heal the Nations or whatever conference you run, or are they doing their own thing? Are they committed to growth?
- Do I have a nagging doubt? Trust your instincts, and trust me it is easier to wait a few months to see what happens and appoint later than appoint quick and then try and un-appoint someone. Take the time to spend time with the person, see if you can catch them under fire – that is always a good time to learn about someone. What do they do when you are under fire, that’s another great learning time! Ask another leader their opinion of them. And always ask a woman’s opinion before appointing a leader. They see things men don’t!
- Does this person have any strengths or just “no weaknesses”? One of the mistakes new leaders make is they appoint leaders because they have no weaknesses, but the problem is they have no strengths either, they are just average at everything, so they do an average job and the level of the church or ministry or company then slides down to the level of average, to mediocre, to “ok”. We are not in the business of ok, we are in the business of awesome!
- Peter Drucker, the management consultant, shares a story about Abraham Lincoln who lost a number of battles because he appointed generals who had no weaknesses but no strengths either. THe Confederates on the other hand had great weaknesses, but had remarkable strengths. They were winning until Lincoln chose Ulyseese Grant, an alcoholic but a remarkable leader. I’m not saying appoint an alcoholic as an elder but make sure the person has some strengths!
- China used to always dominate table tennis. Marilyn Hickey went to China and met the winning team. They were winning every event easily. She asked the coach how to do deal with their weaknesses and train their weaknesses, the coach said “we don’t, we work on their strengths and that is what makes them unbeatable!”
- Does the person fit into your team? Does he have chemistry with you and the people in the team? I ask myself if I was due to have dinner with this person in the evening, would I be excited or concerned all day. We need teams of people who get along! We need chemistry in our teams! It’s obvious in football, but it’s the same in the church. Also does the person have complementary skills? You might have the three best strikers in the world, but you still need a good defender, a good goalie and so on! It’s the same in the church.