I’ve been a leader in the church, in a Fortune 50 organization and in industry learning and IT organizations. I was recently thinking back to how I learned to be a leader.
I got my undergraduate degree in Business Administration, but those classes and experiences really didn’t prepare me to be a leader. Before graduating from college, I was the manager of more than sixty part-time cleaners, and responsible for the cleaning in multiple buildings for a contract cleaning company. It was there that I first began to learn how to manage, but not lead, and there is a difference. In that job, I was responsible for hiring, firing, quality control, meeting with the customer, etc. I pretty much learned on the job. I didn’t read any books or take classes on how to do that. I look at managing as controlling and maintaining something that is already in place. Leading has to do with establishing and casting a vision, and influencing followers to come along with you.
When I joined a large insurance company as a management trainee, I went through an extensive training program, including leadership courses. Then, for the first time, I worked with Mel, who would become my career mentor and later a good and trusted friend. Mel, was a Christian believer who let his faith come through in his leadership. He instilled in me leadership philosophies that I still rely on to this day. But I never received any leadership training from the churches I attended; that would have helped me in my primary vocation. And you would think that would be a great place to learn leadership. Shouldn’t the local church be helping to develop leaders in all spheres (church, business, sports, non-profit, home, etc.)? The church should be instilling the character needed, as well as the competence needed for leaders.
Harry Reeder, author of 3D Leadership: Defining, Developing and Deploying Christian Leaders Who Can Change the World, writes: “Christ-centered, gospel-saturated and Spirit-filled churches need to embrace the opportunity to once again become “Christian leadership factories,” whereby the church defines Christian leadership, develops Christian leaders, and deploys them into the world.” He goes on to write “A church that defines leadership should not only develop Christian leaders for the church through gospel evangelism and discipleship but also develop Christian leaders from the church who are then deployed into the world to penetrate every sphere and institution of society.” I couldn’t agree more. But how do we do that?
Local churches are comprised of people from all types of vocations, including leaders. Our church is certainly not a large one, but we do have many leaders from large organizations and also leaders who own their own businesses. We can learn much from them.
In order to become a “Christian leadership factory”, a church will need to be intentional. You will need someone who has a passion to oversee this effort. Here is a proposed outline to get you started:
- Leadership in the Bible. We can learn a lot about leadership from the Bible by studying the life of Jesus, our ultimate model for leadership, along with leaders such as Moses, David, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, Peter and others.
- Learn Leadership from Christian Authors. There are a number of authors who are Christians that we can learn leadership from. This list includes John Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, a book I used many times in mentoring relationships. Maxwell served as a pastor for 25 years before transitioning to leadership training full-time; Ken Blanchard, co-author of Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time; John MacArthur, author of Called to Lead, about the leadership of the Apostle Paul; Albert Mohler, author of The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters and Patrick Lencioni, author of many books, including what was my most helpful leadership book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. A church leadership program could include learning from books such as these in book clubs led by established leaders from the church.
- Practical teaching on leadership principles from leaders in the church. These group sessions would address the below aspects of leadership and also “Question and Answer” sessions with experienced leaders in various fields (business owners, large corporations, etc.) from the church. Aspects of leadership to be taught would include:
- What is leadership?
- Is leadership for you? Why or why not?
- The joys of leadership
- The costs of leadership
- Basics of leadership:
- Casting vision
- Servant leadership
- Running meetings
- Counseling, coaching
- Communication – written and verbal and listening
- Relationship building
- Performance evaluation
- Leading change
- Problem solving
- Continuous learning
- And many more
- Mentoring relationships with an experienced leader. These relationships, which could be the most important part of your church’s leadership program, could include reading and discussing a leadership book, addressing questions, etc.
The church should take the lead in developing servant leaders for the general marketplace (business, education, government, non-profit, sports, home, etc.). The above thoughts are just to get you thinking about what you could do in your church. What other thoughts do you have to add to this list? Also, if you have provided leadership training in your church, please share what has worked and not worked for you.