We have an incredible message to share with our communities and the world the message of hope, salvation, and purpose in Jesus Christ. The responsibility of stewarding that message was passed down to us and we must ensure that the next generation of leaders is equipped to carry it forward.
Investing in emerging leaders is critical to the future of your church. Whether it's developing a succession plan for the senior pastor or cultivating more small group leaders so you can grow, it's critical that you invest in the next generation of leaders.
This was one of the topics recently addressed at the Catalyst One Day conference in Tulsa, OK. If you've never been to a Catalyst One Day event, it's essentially like drinking water from a fire hose. Six sessions of practical leadership lessons makes for a full, yet very insightful day. This year's focus was centered around the question, "What do great leaders do?". Pastors Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel each taught different sessions based on that theme.
Here are four tips I gleaned from the conference on how to develop the next generation of leaders:
Tip #1: Look for potential
In his talk on building great leaders, Pastor Craig Groeschel stated that "we don't find great leaders; we develop them." He recommends church leaders identify talent that others may overlook. How do you recognize potential? Pastor Craig looks for four key traits: initiative, resilience, drive, and humility.
Tip #2: Inspire with vision
We have the most compelling reason to get up and go to work each day spreading the Gospel and making disciples. Your church has a unique culture and ways to achieve that mission, so share that with your team. Attract and encourage emerging talent by inspiring them to become part of something much bigger than themselves.
Tip #3: Invite questions
Encourage new team members to ask lots of questions. It's easy to answer questions about how a task should be done. However, it's tempting to get defensive when a new team member asks why you do it that way. Don't let yourself become defensive. As Andy Stanley put it, "There's a difference between asking a question and being questioned." Just because your new youth leader asks why the service is structured a certain way doesn't necessarily mean he thinks that's a poor approach. He may simply want to understand the "why" behind the "what and how." If you don't allow for "why" questions, you'll develop doers instead of leaders and will drive away the best talent.
Tip #4: Give the gift of delegation
As your church grows, your ability to "do it all" diminishes. Also, there are tasks you can handle but may not be very good at or detest doing. The new staff member who loves details and is always carrying around a to-do list is a great candidate for taking on the event planning you dread. Don't feel guilty delegating a task you don't enjoy it may very well be something a new team member loves to do. Find out who would thrive in that role and let them use their talents.
However, when you delegate, don't simply turn over the responsibility and walk away. Pastor Craig recommended the following delegation steps:
1. Watch what I do.
2. Do it with my feedback.
3. Do it on your own.
4. Do something I can't do.
Part of leadership is stewarding the future of your church and that future will eventually be in the hands of the next generation of leaders.
Whether you're preparing for church growth or looking to ensure someone is ready to take your place someday now is the time to invest in emerging leaders.