So you’ve done it! You’ve gotten through my thoughts on leadership and you’ve almost finished! However, you might still be frustrated with me. After looking back on what you’ve read, you might have realized that I spent the majority of my time showing and explaining to you how you can lead yourself better. Yet, outside of my last post, I’ve neglected to give you much, if any, practical instruction on how you should lead others well. There is great reason for my doing that though. In the very first post, I started off with what I think is a very intriguing statement. I said that “no person can lead unless they are already being led by something.” I then spent that entire post trying to convince you to be led by God so that you can lead others.
The next three lessons spoke to that, because it is more important for you to lay as your foundation that discipline in which you lead yourself well before you actually jump into leadership. And don’t think that just because you are already in a position of leadership that you are free from this. I myself have been in your position before. I had worked in a student ministry for two years until I realized that my foundation for the leadership and responsibility I had might as well have been the Everglades. I took a step back, or a couple steps rather, and began working on myself. Even now, I am still in that stage of life, and have been and will continue to be very careful about taking a leadership role before my foundation is fully laid on solid ground.
However, we have already gone over the main steps to how this is accomplished, and have jumped into how we are to lead others, and lead them well. Obviously, we have not covered everything that there is to know about leading yourself. Still, we have to move into how to lead others as well. In this post, I would like to share just a couple of thoughts on how you (and I) can lead others in a very practical sense. This is the plan for how you can lead others and lead them well.
1-> Demonstrate the lifestyle of discipleship. Discipleship isn’t just an action that is taken, it is a lifestyle that is lived. Everything about you, including what you do, the relationships you allow yourself to have with others, what you think about, how you conduct yourself, everything, must be made subject to your longing to disciple others. If you are not fully committed, how can you expect them to be?
2-> Actively seek people to disciple. This applies to you even if you are a youth pastor. You inherit students that you disciple, but you still have to look for people within that group that you specifically want to pour into. Especially if you are responsible for a large group of students (say you have 50 in your student ministry), you can’t pour into all of them at the same time. Jesus gave Himself to twelve, and that’s stretching it (He’s God. He can do that). Choose certain people on purpose that you can give everything to while you still lead others in a more general sense. Now, if your student ministry have three kids in it and one is mentally ill while the other two end up getting married out of wedlock (this actually happened to me at the very beginning of my two year involvement in youth ministry leadership that I mentioned earlier. Now we have 50+ students meeting in two locations. God is good!), then your options are kind of limited. Situations like that make your decision really easy. But you have to make a decision nonetheless.
3-> Start caring. Begin showing that you care about these people, which is actually way easier said than done (try really, truly caring about someone who interrupts you every 20 seconds and two people who will be having sex an hour after listening to your lesson on purity). Regardless, you have to truly love these people, and you have to show it. Don’t lie to yourself and say that ‘they know that I care about them.’ No they don’t! No one will ever believe that you care about them until you start proving it through how you treat them.
4-> Show them where you’re going with this. In other words, cast the vision. You know what you want the end result to be. You want them to end up being in your position, discipling others. Do they know that? If you don’t lay it out for them, and continually remind them of where they’re headed, probably not. Also, if you don’t do this now, then later when they’re ready to take that step, they won’t take it. Even if you encourage them to do it later, to them it seems like you’ve used them without telling them (whereas you still want to use them, but definitely let them know about it). If they don’t recognize where this is going before it gets there, then the end result that you and God desire won’t happen.
5-> Start developing. To illustrate how to do this effectively, I’m totally stealing from my professor Dr. Earley a strategy that I learned from him (which, he’s an osu fan, so I feel justified in stealing from him. Then again, I’m also giving him credit for the material, so academically I’m still solid). Anyway, he uses a four-step process of what he calls “multiplication,” but what I’d rather call either “intentional discipleship” or “intentional leadership.” I’ll simplify it down for you:
1: MODEL IT – They watch me as I do it.
2: MENTOR IT – They do it and I watch, assist, correct, and encourage.
3: MOTIVATE IT – They do it and I encourage from a distance.
4: MULTIPLY IT – They take someone else through the process.
Practically apply each of these to your leadership situation when you get to the point when you can do so.
6-> Let them go for it. You’ll know when they’re ready to reach the goal that you both have set because they will jump right into it. However, the majority of the time, the problem here lies with you holding them back. It would seem silly that you would do such a thing, since you’re the one who originally cast this vision for them, but making a disciple is described in Scripture as making a child.
“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– 1 Timothy 1:2
Paul calls Timothy, whom he has both witnessed to and seen saved, as well as disciple, his child. When a parent tries to let go of a child, in any circumstance through life, it is extremely difficult. I’m not a parent, but I know how hard it is to be with my family and then have to leave them, and I can’t imagine having to do that with my own children. Thus, it is difficult to let a disciple, a child of yours, to move on into increased responsibility and leadership. This does not have to be devoid of you, but you will have to let go and there will be changes. But this is your goal getting accomplished. This is leadership. So let go.
And that’s it. That’s all I have. I hope that you have been encouraged, and that you have learned something. If you have simply read through these, I would encourage you to go back and actually apply what has been said here. I hope that the Lord will use this for some good, and not just a grade. May the Lord bless you in all your areas of influence.