Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

August 2014
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Designers of Leader Development and Users of Design

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

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.

While everyone can do simple design, God has given the church a few people who can create complex design. We need to identify those who can design strong four-dynamic leader development processes that are appropriate for the church in a certain context – those who understand the church and the people, those who know the culture, the language, and the particular needs. There are only a few people with this specific calling to create the design that others can use.

Most people will be able to implement complex design – as long as it’s articulated clearly – and everyone can create and implement simple design. In this way, we can build a unified leader development culture and practice across the life of the church. The core 5C/4D model provides a unifying language and framework for this, so that everyone understands what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re doing it. Everyone can fully cooperate and the body will be built up.

In the church God has called some to do this and some to do that (1 Cor. 12). When we all function within our callings, the body is built up.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The church in every culture and context needs designers of leader development. It’s not realistic that curriculum developed in one place will work everywhere for everyone. There are simply too many variables, such as culture, education level, background, socio-economic factors, current specific needs, etc. Moreover, things constantly change, so design that worked well in the past may not work today.

Instead of trying to create a single curriculum for everyone to use, we should nurture leaders’ capacity to design their own leader development. Some will emerge as specialist designers for complex design, while everyone will be able to do simple design.

Reconnecting Leader Development with Life

This is not to imply that every designer must create everything from nothing. In every situation, we already have great resources in all four dynamics from which we can draw. We already have some great content that needs to be “reframed” or reconfigured in a holistic way so it’s not just content and lectures. Everyone already has spiritual, relational and experiential opportunities – we just need to interact with them in an intentional, well-designed way.

Every church and ministry already has vast ministry opportunities, working with children, young people, families and old people. Every church is already doing a lot in pastoral work, evangelism, even church planting and missions work. There are challenges and opportunities on every hand! All of these ministries are not just tasks that need to be done – they are opportunities in which we can build people.

Every church and ministry already has relational opportunities. There are men and women of God with deep experience in God who we can be intentionally connecting with others as examples and role models and in mentoring and coaching roles. There are intercessors who can be mobilized in leader development work. There are endless spiritual opportunities with which to interface.

This is a shift of thinking. Traditionally, we have taken the training work and we’ve pulled it out of its context of life and made it stand by itself. This has not worked. We must reconnect leader development with life.

Everyone can do it. Everyone must do it!