I’ve seen it more clearly in recent months than ever before. That developing leaders is not just moderately important. It’s crucially important.
Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird, writing about church-life, say it as well as anyone: ‘If you want your church to live, produce more leaders than you think you will ever need.’ But you could easily substitute ‘church’ here for business, or organisation, or club. The principle is the same: if you want to grow, keep producing leaders! Lots of them!!
At The Belfrey, the church where I’m Vicar, we’ve just added a second year to our internship programme. This to allow young adults, after their first year with us, to go on and develop their leadership gifts in an encouraging and nurturing environment. It’s all part of creating a more intentional leadership pipeline so we can both bring on others as well as better prepare for growth and new ventures that lie ahead. It comes out of this burning realisation that we must develop leaders!
Many existing leaders miss this, and then wonder why they haven’t got the leaders they need to step up or to pioneer. I confess that’s been me in the past. But not any more. I now get it. I understand what Samuel Chand means when he writes in his excellent book Leadership Pain that ‘your organisation will grow only as fast as you can develop capable leaders.’
So who are you investing in? Who are you mentoring? Who are you sending regular words of encouragement to and praying they’ll be growing in their gifts and talents? Who are you taking with you when you speak? Who are you encouraging to intentionally walk alongside you as you lead?
In my role as a church leader I’ve found no-one expresses this need for leadership development clearer than Thomas G Bandy. He says it loud and clear when he writes: ‘The future of the church in the 21st Century will not be determined by planning. It will be determined by leadership development. These leaders may be clergy or laity, and they will probably not care about the designation. They will be risk-takers and adventurers. They will always be wondering what opportunity lies over the next cultural hill. They will be explorers of the unknown. They will be you.’
So develop leaders.
More than you need.
You won’t regret it.