leadership development

Have you ever been a part of a cause, organization, or environment that is experiencing a large amount of success?

Have you ever wondered why after the warm, fuzzy emotions wear off, you sometimes feel sad or empty? 

There is often an overlooked downside to success and growth.  It’s not the kind of thing that we like to talk about much in meetings or conferences…but I wonder how it has an effect on the emotional and psychological health of our leaders.  Success, growth, and positive movement come at a price.  It’s a hidden cost because it’s a by-product. When it is time to pay the price, there may be feelings of emptiness that may surprise you or catch you off guard.  


You may have heard the saying “Healthy things grow, and growing things change.”  This is truly a fact of life.  My kids are growing up and changing.  We are all adjusting to this reality with new rhythms, eating patterns (they are a band of locusts), and work schedules, etc.  The organizations that I am a part of are growing and changing in so many great ways as well.  All of the change in my life has caused me to have to adapt to my reality.  You may be having to adapt to your reality also.  


I love the definition of “adaptability.”  It's “the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions” or “the capacity to be modified for a new use or purpose.”  Wow, do you see it?  Not only might the conditions, externally, be changing around us and causing us to adapt, but also, we are being “modified” internally as well.   This modification is for a new purpose.  New things are exciting.  However, most of the time, in order to start something new, we have to end what is current.


“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” - 2 Timothy 2:2


The Apostle Paul understood the importance of leadership development, as revealed in these instructions to Timothy. If you put yourself in Paul’s shoes, it’s easy to understand why: He was at the helm of a tiny, but rapidly growing movement tasked with changing the world. God gifted the early Church with the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, but if it had any hope of surviving, it would also need to build a network of local leaders who were aligned to a common goal, capable of caring for new believers,  equipped to prevent heretical teaching and mobilized to live out the Gospel.


For the early Church, leadership development wasn’t a luxury, it was essential to its survival.


If you are a leader, you know the significance of having great leaders around you. Leadership development isn’t a peripheral responsibility, it is central to your efforts. As leadership guru Tom Peters observed, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”  In your pursuit of developing other leaders, I would like to propose three benefits.


Three Benefits to Prioritizing Leadership Development:


1. Developing Leaders Can Multiply Your Mission:


As Moses’ father-in-law Jesse reminded him, there’s only so much one person can accomplish (Exodus 18). Choosing to develop others may seem like a lot of work in the early stages, but will produce a growing body of leaders to shoulder responsibility alongside you. It not only ultimately lightens your load, it multiplies your efforts and influence in others.  If you and I are going to do anything of significance, we are going to need others.  Consider joining up with others to accomplish your mission.


2. Developing Leaders Can Increase Your Capacity:


You may have heard the adage that a goldfish will only grow as large as the size of its bowl. The same holds true when it comes to your organization—a group will only grow as large as the “bowl” you create for it. When you hesitate to entrust responsibility to others or inadequately develop potential leaders, the group’s growth will be limited by your own capacity. It won’t be able to grow beyond what you can carry. Few things demotivate emerging leaders as much as senior leaders who limit their opportunities to serve.  It is truly a paradox.  The more we give away to capable leaders, the more capacity we all have for our mission. 



3. Developing Leaders Can Build Contagious Energy:


Imagine what you could accomplish with growing numbers of aligned, inspired leaders.

People feel inspired when they believe they are:

accomplishing something significant.

growing as people.

investing in something greater than themselves.

Intentionally developing the leaders in your midst will move your followers from the bleachers, to the sidelines, and eventually onto the field where they can become key players in your organization.


Remember, leadership development begins one person at a time. By investing in others, both in their personal lives and development as well as their professional lives, your investment multiplies over time. Everyone benefits by seeking the welfare of the leader and their city (Jeremiah 29:7).

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share practical tools you can use to equip emerging leaders.

Before we get started, though, take a moment to evaluate your commitment to leadership development.

Read the following statements.  How accurately do they describe you? Respond with “Very true”, “Mostly true”, or “Not true at all”...

1.  I tend to think of my own performance before I think of the needs or effectiveness of others.

2.  I’ve seen strong leadership development modeled by others.

3.  The people I lead with are equipped and encouraged to develop others.

4.  Volunteers feel like they are becoming better leaders and better people, not just being used to accomplish a task.

5.  My organization or ministry would survive without me.

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