by Brian Phipps
Moses identified and developed Joshua.
Elijah identified and developed Elisha.
Jesus identified and developed Peter.
Paul identified and developed Timothy.
Who have you identified and developed to lead in your group?
Identifying and developing new leaders can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling practices for a small group leader. Yet based on my experience and the experience of many others I have spoken to, developing new leaders seems to be a lost art that only a few enjoy. Current leaders simply are not raising up new leaders. It does not need to be this way.
The process of developing new leaders is simple:
Identify your new leader.
Partner with your new leader.
Release your new leader.
This article’s focus is on identifying potential leaders. Many leaders falter at this step because they start by looking for a person’s group-leading competency. I often hear leaders say, “No one in this group is ready to lead.” While that statement may be true, it is partly true because they have never been given a chance to lead or they were asked to lead without adequate preparation.
If you want to see more potential leaders in your current group, don’t start by looking for their competency. Start by looking for the following four criteria:
Is this person growing? Are they taking next steps in their faith? If so, they have character. They do not need to have “arrived” at a certain level to begin developing their leadership ability.
Does this person regularly show up for group? Are they consistently prepared for the conversation? Do their actions correlate with their words? If so, they are consistent.
Does this person get along with most everyone else? If so, they have favorable chemistry. I do not know anyone who gets along with everyone, but I do know some who do not get along with many. Good group leaders are generally those who get along with most people.
Do you and other people in the group listen when this person speaks? Does this person have people hanging around them before and after the group? If so, this person has charisma.
The ICNU (I see in you) Conversation
If a person meets these four criteria, it is time to initiate an “I see in you” conversation with them. Invite this person to come 15 minutes early to a group meeting to share what you see in them. This is such an encouraging exercise! After sharing the specific ways you see character, consistency, chemistry, and charisma in them, tell them that these are the four most important qualities you look for in a new group leader. Before they have a chance to respond, let them know that you want to work with them over the next few weeks to prepare them to lead the group. It is during this process that you will measure their competency.
If a person meets three of the four criteria, you can have a similar conversation with them. Have the ICNU conversation and how the three criteria you see are three of the four you look for in a new leader. The only difference in this conversation is that you will encourage them to consider asking Jesus to develop the one criteria that is missing.
For example, if consistency is missing encourage them to ask Jesus to give them a desire and commitment to be more consistent. If they are missing the chemistry element, you can encourage them to pray for Jesus to bear more spiritual fruit in them. Developing this fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control goes a long way in developing chemistry with more people. The most difficult of these criteria to develop is charisma. Even so, God can develop confidence and vision in them that can elevate their potential to lead. If they develop that forth criteria, they too are ready to begin the process that will help you measure their competency.
Four Progressive Steps to Measuring Competency
1. I do. You watch. We talk.
2. I do. You help. We talk.
3. You do. I help. We talk.
4. You do. I watch. We talk.
Much has been written about these four steps of leadership development. The brilliance of this process is the ability to measure person’s competency incrementally, minimizing embarrassment and perceived failure by thrusting them into a leadership situation prematurely. If a person moves through all four phases of this process successfully, it is time to enter the second phase of developing a leader, partnering with a new leader. I will cover that exciting topic in a later blog.
A Simple Tool
Identifying a new leader is not difficult, but it does take intentionality. One helpful tip for keeping this a priority is to have a notepad that you keep with you while leading your group. List out the four criteria on that notebook with space between each of them. When you notice someone demonstrating a given criteria, put their initials under that heading. When they get their initials under three or four of them, it is time to have those conversations.
Over and over I hear how awesome it is to be a grandparent. Almost every grandparent I know says it is WAY better than being a parent! Currently, I have three kids but no grandchildren. If these people are correct, my wife and I have some awesome days ahead because being a parent has been awesome!
While I am not a grandparent physically, I am a grandparent spiritually. I know the joys of watching those I have invested in turn and invest in others. Their spiritual growth went into in hyper-drive when they started leading just like mine did when I was first asked to lead a Sunday school group many years ago. Their joy went up and my delight in them went up. I believe God smiled too. His kingdom just made room for more people to join and grow.
Start identifying a new leader today!