Sep 2014

What Is the Best Leader Development Advice You Can Give?

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The fifth Leader Development Consultation (LDC) was held in Asia in October 2013 with about 240 participants from 20+ nations. Prior to the event, participants were asked, “What is the best leader development advice you can give?” The following are some of the very beautiful and wise responses. The original answers are given with minor editing.

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17) In every matter, be it relationships or work situations, always be open to seeking to understand the true reality/truth with all its motivations and consequences. While we are not to judge people, leaders are continually involved in situations where wise judgment is called for. So don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Peel back the surface and look underneath to see the true causes of the pain and trouble, the joy or celebration that are the grounds of our reality.

Rejection is inevitable at some point by someone – perhaps even our own followers – but the key to a healthy leader is to know at a deep and stable heart level that our Lord Jesus has not rejected us.

Learn what Jesus said and did for the disciples. Follow His steps, like washing the disciples’ feet.

Leadership competencies develop as the leaders experience challenges, overcome them and reflect on what the experience has to teach them. This is rarely done intentionally, because so many leaders are so busy with administrative tasks that they don’t have time to reflect. Connecting the leader with a person or group that can help him or her debrief experiences and talk through problems is the best approach for helping the leader to grow.

Acknowledge the point of true need – the gap between what is and what should be. Then act to achieve effective results.

To be the best leader you can be, the one best thing you can do is to deepen your relationship with Christ. This also applies to all of your relationships. In order to be the best co-worker, friend, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, pastor or trainer, deepen your relationship with Christ.

What is learned is more important than what is taught. Leader-developers often don’t realize how much they still have to learn! Humility, a willingness to be taught, and appreciative inquiry are all essential to become effective leader-developers. They’re also essential to life and godliness.

Leading by example – orchestrated by the Holy Spirit – is the organic way of mentoring and coaching leaders.

Leaders will lead best when they are passionate about what they’re doing; when it’s simply an expression of who they already are and it’s not work for them. Look for those who serve as an overflow of their lives and walk alongside them to impart wisdom and help them to be whom they are in Christ.

Capacity-building for staff includes enabling them to succeed and fail but to learn from both.

In John 15:5, Jesus said, “Apart from Me you cannot do anything.” If you do not have an ongoing relationship with Christ, all your work, productivity and ministry are illegitimate in God’s sight (Hos. 5:7).

Be sure you are learning from others and in turn, passing it on.

Establish a genuine sense of commitment and be open to new ways of accomplishing your task.

Our own development in leadership is not determined by seeking a higher position, but by doing our best in the present one.

Stable leader development blossoms when we start exploring the human resources at hand, not necessarily when we hire experts for the task.

Examine your primary motivations as you lead teams and ministry projects. Do your motivations hold up in the light of Scripture?

Ask and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit each and every second of your life.

Allow for continuous communication, not just at one time or during one training.

Leader development happens in the context of discipleship. Discipling is bringing a person to fulfill God’s agenda for his or her life. It’s bringing the person to where God wants him or her to be, not where we want him or her to be.

Discipleship must be given the highest priority.

Building leaders is a life-transformation process in the emerging leader that takes time and demands whole-hearted commitment on the part of existing leaders.

Maintain a good relationship with God.

A leader should honestly know himself.

Aim at holistic development and follow through.

Time does not automatically develop leaders but leadership development always takes time. There are no short-cuts to developing effective godly leaders. It requires relational commitment as leaders invest time into the lives of others.

Teach by example.

Maturing leaders need not only to know what they believe but to see how the Christian life is lived. Teach by example how to love, forgive, encourage, deal with crisis, and be accountable in order to avoid temptation. Share your successes and your failures. Show them your brokenness and weakness, not just your strength. Not by words alone, but by example. Live with them, eat the bread they eat, sleep, laugh and cry with them. It is your example they will follow. The most important value of a teacher, mentor or coach is therefore not his knowledge but his character. Competence can be learned from a textbook; character is formed by true living, Jesus’ way. Remind them that being a Christian leader is not about success, competence, or influence, but grace – grace to live through the brokenness, the failures, the trials and tribulations, the rejection by those you lead and love, who will disappoint you, as you will at times disappoint them.

Focus on quality over quantity; relationships over meetings; love over achievements.

Leader development is not primarily about leadership training or skills but about whom you are becoming as a leader. Who you are is how you lead.

Go slowly with a defined plan.

Repent, because the Kingdom of God is at hand. God is about to do something new. Walk together, listen, look, seek.

Look at the real need through the eyes of the potential leaders, in their context. Help the leaders to go through the process of transforming their ministries and overcoming the difficulties they face.

Don’t hesitate to teach and train large groups, but the most significant leader development will take place through one-on-one investment over time.

Align yourself with a leader who has attributes different from yours and a leadership style that you can learn from.

Answer to the best of your ability the necessary questions before you start. Observe how leader development already takes place within the group you’re serving. Look for and learn from others who might be doing similar types of leader development. Know the difference between training and development.

Remember that you are called to be a servant before being a leader. Leading flows out of who you are in Christ and not by what you do, what you have or what others say about you. The way you lead others must be adorned by a humble spirit that reflects Christ above and beyond any human example or cultural value so that others are encouraged to do the same. Ultimately, everything a leader does and becomes must be placed at the feet of the cross as the paragon example of leading out of complete vulnerability, just as Jesus exemplified and opened a path for us to follow.

1.) Create a culture of honor. 2.) Learn to be a good listener. 3.) Lead from a position of humility and integrity. 4.) Apply reasonable expectations. 5.) Ask the Lord to help you see others through the eyes of their destiny rather than the eyes of their shortcomings or failures.

Who are you training to take your place?

A good leader will have good followers.

Never take yourself too seriously.

Be keen on developing the uniqueness and worth of every leader. Disadvantaged geographical location does not equate to incapacity or lack of worth.

Always focus on radical discipleship and servant leadership with the humility of Christ!

Leader development is not just about conferences or events, but it is relational.

Listen more. Pray more. Focus more.

Focus on being more like Christ. Content transfer will not build Christ-like leaders.

Stay grounded in Jesus (John 15:5)… Let Him be your center of gravity in leadership.

Someone said: if you’re about to give a sermon, pray as if you have never preached, and preach as if you had never prayed. Spiritual leadership is the marriage of deep spirituality and well-honed ministry skills – a blending of the divine and the human – a reflection of Christ Himself. We must make sure the impetus and vision for our leadership emerges out of our communion with the Trinity. Anything else obstructs the work of the Spirit. We must make sure our leadership emerges out of the very best in leadership character, vision, knowledge, skills and practices. Anything else obstructs the work of the Spirit. Leadership is a divine-human work. May our leadership offer the best in human leadership skills in the very fullness of the Spirit of Christ.

The fulfillment of God’s missional purpose is at the forefront of all leader development in the body of Christ. God develops leaders over a lifetime and we must work closely with the Holy Spirit to help facilitate this process. A biblical mandate, the development of leaders in the body of Christ is a multifaceted process. By closely examining the life and ministry of both Jesus and Paul, we can learn much about leader development. Though times have changed, the essential ingredients of effective leader development have not. The best leader development happens in the context of God-ordained and directed mission and ministry, in intimate and accountable relationships that encourage close association with established leaders who serve as models, mentors, and apprentice masters, who, in cooperation with the Spirit, facilitate holistic development. Holistic development includes spiritual formation (including the development of character and a Christ-centered life purpose), grounding in Scripture and theology, the development of giftedness and important ministry skills, and integration into appropriate ministry roles in the body of Christ. The disciples were trained in mission for mission through a comprehensive strategy including modeling, engaging and challenging instruction, mentoring, and in-service, on-the-job learning. As they matured, they were gradually entrusted with increasingly important and challenging ministry responsibilities. As Malcolm Webber notes, both content and context are essential for balanced development.

There is no substitute for face-to-face training when it comes to the development of leaders. Training must be done in an atmosphere of relationship and accountability.

Develop and nurture your own intimate walk with God as Father in the regular presence of a small community of emerging leaders. Ask penetrating questions of them, repeat your key teachings, and make it burn (meaning: make the teachings challenging personally and experientially). Get out of the theory-room and onto the playing field as you build these people with the Holy Spirit’s help; He will guide you step-by-step. Stop looking for the perfect program and start building those around you to the very best of your ability. Let their progress, set-backs, feed-back, and most importantly, friendship, shape what you do and how you do it. And remember, building leaders takes real time.

Lead by example.

The sixth LDC will be in South Bend, Indiana in September 2014. For more information.

Sep 2014

Significant Trends in Leader Development

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The fifth Leader Development Consultation (LDC) was held in Asia in October 2013 with about 240 participants from 20+ nations. Prior to the event, participants were asked about significant trends they see happening in Christian leader development work. The following is a summary analysis of their responses. As much as possible, the original answers are given word-for-word in bullets.

1. A broad recognition of the central importance of leader development:

  • Everyone is talking about leader development.
  • Increased awareness by major organizations of the critical need for developing leaders to meet the demands of a rapidly growing church
  • There seems to be an increased awareness of the need for leader development within the network of my relationships.
  • People are awakening to the need.
  • There is a hunger for training and good material in the two-thirds world like never before. Quality education has become a high priority among leaders.

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Aug 2014

Designers of Leader Development and Users of Design

Probably everybody who is reading these words has the ability to sit in a car and be driven somewhere by someone else. Everybody can benefit from the car. Whether or not we understand how the car works or even how to drive, everyone can benefit. But how many people can drive the car? Quite a few, but it’s not everybody. Then, how many people can change the oil in the car and do basic maintenance work? This is a significantly smaller group. How many people can fix the engine when it breaks down? Even fewer.

Now, think about when the car was built. How many people have the knowledge and skills to work on the production line and produce the car? Very few. Then, how many people have the ability to precisely engineer the various parts of the car? Not many. Finally, how many people can invent something like a car in the first place? Hardly anyone.

In another analogy, very few people can write a truly great book, but multitudes can read it and benefit from it.

Leader development is like this.

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Jul 2014

Simple Design and Complex Design

By God’s grace, for the second time in a row, LeaderSource SGA was recently selected as one of the recipients of the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards for 2014 “for outstanding achievements in leadership development and programs.” In addition we were selected as a “Top 10 finalist” in the Non-Profit Organizations Category . The complete list is here (we’re on page 12). We thank God for this honor.

In our last Letter, we began to look at how to design transformational leader development. Let’s continue now…

Simple Design and Complex Design

An intuitive grasp of the principles of gravity and aerodynamics is sufficient to catch a ball that is thrown to you. But it’s not sufficient to design an airplane, even though the same principles are at work! To design an airplane you need a considerably greater (and conscious) mastery of the principles.

In the same way, there is both simple and complex leader development design. Just as you can catch a ball without knowing anything about “lift” and “acceleration,” so you can intuitively harness the power of 4D design (incorporating spiritual, relational, experiential and instructional dynamics) without being able to design a full-time, multi-year curriculum for training.

Anyone can do “simple” design.

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Jun 2014

Designing Transformational Leader Development

In this Letter, we will begin a new series, looking at how to design transformational leader development.

Transformational leader development requires more than classroom instruction. Life transformation takes place through a combination of the “Four Dynamics of Transformation”:

  • Spiritual Dynamics – including prayer, worship, reflection, meditation in the Word;
  • Relational Dynamics – including encouragement, accountability, examples, mentors, coaches;
  • Experiential Dynamics – including learning by doing, challenging assignments, and pressure;
  • Instructional Dynamics – the teaching of the Word of God in an engaging and interactive way.

Traditional training, however, almost exclusively uses the Instructional Dynamic.

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May 2014

The Power of Pressure in Leader Development

In our last Letter we looked at the power of pressure in leader development.

There are several cautions we must observe as we introduce pressure into the lives of emerging leaders:

  • It is not true that “the more we make them suffer, the more they will grow.” God allows suffering in our lives, but He does so wisely. We should not just callously or arbitrarily throw people into the fire, thinking this will automatically improve them. We should be intentional and careful about exposing emerging leaders to various forms of pressure. A boxer said to his manager, “I want to fight the champ.” The manager said, “No, you’re not ready for the champ.” “But I want to fight him. I’m ready. Why can’t I fight him?” “Because,” said the manager, “you’ve only so many fights in you, and it’s my job to pick the right ones.” In the same way, we need to protect our emerging leaders by carefully designing what they experience.
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Apr 2014

True Leadership is Forged in the Fire

Many biblical leaders such as Joseph, Moses, David and Paul were built in the fire of suffering.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Tim. 3:10-12)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:8-11; see also 4:7-12; 11:21-29; )

These are the ways of God: healthy leaders are built – and lead – in the fires of suffering.

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Mar 2014

Jesus Showed Us the Path of Suffering

Leaders are built through fire. Godly leaders know that sufferings can build spiritual maturity, brokenness and genuine faith in God; thus, they do not shy away from the cross in their lives.

Accordingly, Jesus showed the way of suffering to the leaders He was building. He personally demonstrated sufferings to them:

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Feb 2014

Leaders Are Built Through Fire

Leaders are built through fire – like steel is made hard in the fire, like gold is purified in the furnace, like carbon is formed under pressure into diamonds.

Pressure reveals the impurities in one’s life so they can be dealt with. It is far better to put the emerging leader under pressure before he is given significant responsibility and authority than to wait until the time when failure under pressure will destroy both the leader and those with him. Therefore, the leader development process can intentionally put the participants under a certain amount of pressure to squeeze heart contaminations to the surface so they can be revealed, confronted and removed.

Significantly, the formation of diamonds from carbon requires three things: (1) extreme pressures, 100 miles or more deep under the earth’s surface, (2) high temperatures, 2000 °F or more, and (3) time, diamonds are formed very slowly.

Of course, this is not only true for leaders; this is how God deals with all of us. He has always used suffering as a vital part of the Christian life.-

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Jan 2014

Jesus is the Source of Everything

Everything is in Jesus. Do not seek anything outside of Jesus. He died on the cross to restore you to Himself.

Jesus did not die just so that you may live a righteous, ethical life; He died to restore you to Himself, and in union with Him your heart will be captivated by the beauty and invigorated by the power of Divinely-imparted holiness. He did not die that you might be bound with a life of religious busyness and duty; He died to bring you to Himself that you may know the delightful privilege of living every moment in His gracious fellowship and zealous service.

So let Him be your desire; purely to behold and to know Him your longing. Be captivated with Him; and not just so you will receive anything from Him or can do anything for Him. But seek communion with Him simply because He is precious. Worship Him merely because He is God and you are man. Let Him become your song just because He is worthy. Long for Him for His own sake. Hunger for Him for no motive other than Him. Thirst for Him because only He can ever satisfy.

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