Most people look for leaders in the church like they are trying to fill a job—they look for the most competent person available. This may seem like a good idea at first, but it excludes people who may not appreciate the gifts they have. Having strong competent leaders is a blessing, but if you only seek out people who are ready to lead right now you are missing a great opportunity to build leaders through groups.
The reality is that not all leaders come to us fully formed. The best future leaders of your groups may be those who don’t show an ability or even a desire to lead right now. So how do we equip and identify leaders who do not come to us ready to hit the ground running?
We do it by equipping our current leaders to share the responsibility of leadership with others.
We build future leaders by refusing to do everything. Such an approach cultivates a culture where new leaders are continually being trained and sent out. This type of shared leadership is effective for at least a few reasons.
- The best leaders are actually the ones who defer to others. Good leaders let different people lead in different areas. Most small groups include the following elements—teaching, praying, and cultivating relationships. Someone in your group is likely better at one of these things than you. As you identify this, encourage them to take ownership in that particular gifting.
- Developing leaders gradually allows group members to grow in their calling. Jesus didn’t send the twelve out immediately. They only went out after they spent time with Him and observed what He did. Gradually, Jesus gave the disciples responsibilities in the mission. They grew in their calling, as well as their ability to depend on Jesus.
- Refusing to do everything helps group members see that community is not dependent upon leadership or personality. Everyone loves to have a dynamic group leader, but groups are not about the leadership gifts of one person. Rather, groups are a conglomeration of individual members of the body of Christ coming together. Refusing to do everything trains the people in groups to take responsibility and see that a group is about everyone—not just the leader.
We build leaders by not doing everything.
Reid Patton is a Content Editor for the Short-Term Discipleship Team at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the thankful husband of Kristen and proud father of Ceile and serves with the Life Group leadership team at the Church at Station Hill in Spring Hill, Tennessee. In his free time, Reid likes reading, watching NBA Basketball and Auburn Football, and going to record stores. You can find him on Twitter @jreidpatton.