This is the first post in a new, four part series on how to develop leadership within your ministry or church. Howard Hendricks, in The Dynamics of Leadership, gives an outstanding grid of things to look for and build into those serving alongside you as staff and volunteers.  The following is an excerpt from this resource:

Determine what you want to develop.

                I am convinced leadership development is one of the greatest needs in our church today. Our problem is that we’re more concerned about church growth than we are about church health. That’s why we don’t develop leaders. We have people coming in, finding Christ. But nobody’s developing them, and they end up in protracted spiritually infancy. The responsibility is on our shoulders. To lead a person to Christ and not disciple them is, in my judgment, the greatest delinquency. And that’s precisely where we are.

                What I want you to see is that it makes no difference what type of leader you’re trying to develop. The traits necessary never vary. So let’s determine what leadership characteristics you want to develop. I’m not asking you to buy this. This may not be your list. But here is one to start out with:

                Develop People Who Are Committed.

                Develop People Who Are Competent.

                Develop People Who Are Communicative.

                Develop People Who Are Creative.

                Now hang with me, because we will be walking through how to accomplish each of these tasks. We will first take a look at how to develop people who are committed.

Develop people who are committed.

You immediately know you are in deep water in looking for this by virtue of our culture. Commitment is not a feature of our culture. Conditional commitment is. “I can do _______, if …” is the response you get when asking for volunteers.  When I’m developing leaders, I set a standard right up front. I make my expectations known and don’t tolerate anyone violating that standard. There is a three-fold commitment I seek to secure from anyone I’m considering to be a leader:

Commitment to the mission.

Please note that this is not commitment to an organization, but to a cause- that’s what develops commitment. Unfortunately, we’re trying to develop commitment to a denomination, commitment to our church, to everything in the world except Jesus Christ. Stop and think. Where is your ultimate commitment?

Commitment to their fellow workers.

You want to build a true team. Teams have the mark of true commitment in its individuals. Nehemiah 3 is the only chapter in the “leadership book” that no one reads, because it has hard name after hard name.  Here, Nehemiah takes three groups and welds them into a single group so that in 52 days they accomplish the most phenomenal engineering task in history. Even the pagans of the time looked at what they accomplished together and said, “This is of God.” Does anyone say that about your team’s work?

Commitment to your own growth and development.

No, you did not read that wrong. You should look for leaders who are committed to helping you grow. Now you may say, “Well that’s remarkably self-serving.” But remember, when you (as the leader) grow, your church grows. What happens is when you are growing; you’re motivating everyone else to do the same. One of the things you need to secure is a plan of growth and development for every one of your leaders, including yourself. Have them commit to that plan as a part of their leadership.

Most of our growth is unintentional. It just happens. Half the time we can’t even figure out how it happens, because most of the time no one comes along ahead of time and says, “Let me help you. Let me show you how to take steps in your faith now that you’ve come to Christ.” Think of the difference that would make.

The beginning of the development process must begin with your determining what type of leader you want to develop.  We’ve suggested here some traits that Dr. Hendricks looked for and that we feel cross any category of leadership. First and foremost, having leaders who are committed is absolutely vital. They should be committed to the same mission as your organization, to their fellow workers in your organization, and to the growth of the leadership in your organization. That’s where to begin.

Be sure to check back next month and see the next leadership development how-to, How to Develop People Who Are Competent.  As mentioned above, this series is taken from a video/workbook resource called The Dynamics of Leadership by Howard Hendricks. To order the program in its entirety, be sure to visit our Hendricks Center Store.

About the Contributors

Kymberli Cook

Kymberli Cook is the Assistant Director of the Hendricks Center, overseeing the workflow of the department, online content creation, Center events, and serving as Giftedness Coach and Table Podcast Host. She is also a doctoral student in Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, pursuing research connected to unique individuality, the image of God, and providence. When she is not reading for work or school, she enjoys coffee, cooking, and spending time outdoors with her husband and daughters.