QUALIFICATIONS FOR LEADERSHIP
He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach (Mark 3:14).
In order to reproduce a disciple-making ministry, a person who has become a disciple and has been trained to be a worker must take one more step. He must become a leader. The last stage in
the development of this person in preparing him for this ministry is leadership.
This is not to say that once these growth and development will come to a stop. No, for growth is a lifetime process. We never arrive during our lifetimes.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him a he is. Everyone who has this
hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1 John 3:1-3).
You have watched the person take the steps from convert to disciple. You have seen him go on to become a worker-a “harvest worker” one who knew how to make disciples and was part of your
disciple-making team. Now there is one more step to take. You must look over the men on your team and see if there are one or two in the group who should be taken further.
Are there those who have the gifts, abilities, and calling of God to become leaders of a disciple-making ministry?
Those who could do what you are doing? If so, they will need some special leadership training to do the job.
You must realize and note carefully that we are not talking about whether or not the person is going to become a “fulltime ” Christian worker, pastor, or missionary. He may, but that’s not the issue. Many “laymen are some of the finest leaders of disciple-making ministries in the world today. They are highly respected by “full-time Christian workers who know them and are often called on to train pastors and missionaries in this ministry. Their occupation or profession is what they do for a living and they are successful in it. But leading a team of workers is their life.
The two keys to developing a leader of a disciple-making team are selection and time. We want to examine these carefully.
The Importance of Selection
You have been ministering to the potential leader for many months, possibly years. You knew him as a convert. You established him by helping him become a fruitful, committed, and productive disciple. You equipped him by giving him the training he needed to become a worker, a member of your team of disciple makers. Now you are at a critical point in his life. Is God leading him to take the next step, to become a leader of a team of men who are able to make disciples of others?
At least five qualities characterize a leader; you must look for them in a potential leader. All five need not be present in a person s life. He does not have to be a spiritual superman or a saintly superstar, but if two or three of these are evident, you should pray seriously for the leading of the Lord as to your further involvement with him in giving him more leadership training. If you are serving on a mission field where the harvest is very plentiful and the workers are very few, this is especially crucial.
To illustrate the reasoning behind this stage of training, let’s say you are a missionary on the island of Java in Indonesia. You have a band of workers serving with you. You know there are millions of people scattered throughout the thousands of islands of the country who need spiritual help. How will they get it?
Possibly you are the key. Perhaps the Lord would lead you to give some of your workers special leadership training to go to these places and do what you are doing. It would be a thrill to watch them go out, reach some people for Christ, stick with those people till they became fruitful, dedicated, mature disciples, and then have some of those go on to become effective workers on their disciple-making teams.
In selecting your leaders for training, these are the five qualities to look for.
He has fight and drive. He does not give up easily. He does not turn and run at the first sign of opposition, nor does he stop at the first obstacle. He presses ahead with enthusiasm, a positive attitude, dedication and faith, regardless of the opposition, distractions, and trials in his involvement in Jesus Great Commission.
He reflects the response Paul had when the Holy Spirit told him that prison, suffering, and troubles were waiting for him. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24).
He knows the path will not be easy. He realizes that he who walks the high, hard, windswept path often walks alone. He does not expect to slide toward the mark, or drift or glide or slip or float. He knows there will be opposition. He is perfectly willing to press toward the goal in his high calling from God (see Phil. 3: 14). He will gladly knuckle down and fight the good fight of faith.
He accepts the road of suffering: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him (Phil. 1:29). Look for that spirit, for the leader must keep going whether others do or not.
He can spot and recruit achievers. This is important because it will determine what kind of team he will begin to form. He must know the difference between a good man and a nice guy. He must be able to spot and recruit good men. Why is that important? If he accumulates a bunch of hangers-on around him, the good men will stay away. The only way they will know what is involved is by what they see.
I was talking to a young medical doctor one time who had this ministry on his heart. He told me he was thinking of giving much time and attention to a certain man. I asked him if that was the type of person he eventually wanted to have on his discipleship team.
“No, ” he answered, “but he’s the only man available right now.
I cautioned him to wait a while to see if God might bring an achiever into his path. God did, and today there are men from that ministry who are leading disciple-making teams in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Orient, and Australia. Much of the success of his ministry goes back to that initial decision to wait for the right man to come along.
How do you spot an achiever? Here are some traits to look for:
1. He is reliable. This doesn’t mean he never makes mistakes. Everyone does. But when he is given a job, he will see it through. An Old Testament prophet told a parable of a man who was told to guard a prisoner, but the prisoner escaped. His classic answer was, “While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone!” (1 Kings 20:39-40). His problem was unreliability, They gave the job to the wrong man.
2. He is resourceful. He does the best he can with what he’s got. Dawson Trotman loved to tell the story of the night the follow-up department ran out of materials in the counseling room of the first Greater London Billy Graham Crusade. One of the counselors came running up to Trotman and said,”We’ve run out of Beginning with Christ packets!”
“That’s OK, ” Trotman replied. “They probably ran out of them on the day of Pentecost when 3,000 were converted.” At first the man looked blank, then puzzled, and finally he saw the point. They didn’t have Beginning with Christ packets at Pentecost and they managed very well. With a little resourcefulness they could do the same in London. And they did.
Lorne Sanny, president of The Navigators, often preaches to us about Shamgar, who started where he was and did the best he could with what he had. The battle with the Philistines was raging and he had no sword. So he fought the enemy with an ox goad and killed six hundred of them (see Judg. 3:31).
3. He is adaptable. Paul spoke of this trait at length to the Corinthians.
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but
am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
Leaders are often called on to do a variety of things. One Sunday I began a series of meetings in Minneapolis. The preceding Saturday, I spoke to a group of youth directors on the subject of discipleship and gave my testimony to about 16,000 young people at a rock festival. And the day before that I spoke to the U. S. leadership of the Christian Business Men’s Committee on the subject of making disciples. A leader has to adapt.
The leader must be a specialist and disciple making must be his life. But he must also be versatile. He must have the ability to roll with the punches and fit into various situations. He will be called on to serve all kinds of groups and minister to all kinds of people.
4. He is enthusiastic. His heart is in the ministry and he goes it all he’s got. He has to have the attitude of the psalmist toward God: “With all my heart I have sought Thee; do not let me wander from Thy commandments” (Ps. 119:10). This trait is important to have. A man may make some dumb mistakes, but if he is really trying and giving it his best, then he can be forgiven his mistakes. Look for the man who is eager, not just “open. ” Look for the man who is `hot to go, not just the man who is willing.
I was talking one day to a young man who was leading a team of disciples at the United States Air Force Academy. He wanted to know if I would like his team of men to come over to our house some Saturday and work on the lawn. I thought it sounded like a great idea, so we set a date. About three days before they were to come he called me and said, “Well, LeRoy, I’ve got six men who are willing to come Saturday.
I said okay and hung up the phone. But his words began to gnaw at me- These men were willing; not eager, but willing.
It went against everything I had ever done. I had never purposely allowed myself to get involved in a project with men who were merely willing. I have learned that if a man is just doing something because he feels he has to, he will not do his best. I didn’t want half a dozen men working on my lawn whose hearts weren’t in it, because they would likely do sloppy work. So I called the leader back and cancelled the project.
5. He knows how to work. Jesus did not call the sunbathers on the Sea of Galilee beach who were lying around frying in their own fat. He called the fishermen who were mending their nets. Centuries before, God called Moses while he was tending sheep in the desert, and later David while he was out in the fields working. Christian work is hard work. We were having a conference at our headquarters and the crowd was so large we had to use a fourth floor room for a workshop. It meant carrying about seventy-five chairs from the truck outside and up four long flights of stairs. One of the men looked at me and said, “Man, this is work!”
“Yes,” I told him, “that’s how the ministry is often referred to-the Navigator work. ” In running a Navigator conference, we were involved in the work of The Navigators.
So look for the man who is eager to work harder longer. He may have the stuff of which leaders are made.
6. He is alert. A leader of ” harvest workers must be alert to what is going on around him. Failure in this area can often hinder his effectiveness in the ministry of making disciples of others.
I was watching a World Series baseball game. The catcher wanted the pitcher to throw an outside curve and just graze the corner of the plate. It required great skill and concentration to throw the ball at just the right height and into that tiny area. At the same time a fast runner was on first base, giving every indication of trying to steal second. Had the pitcher not watched him carefully, he would have done it. But the pitcher was an old pro. He never lost the concentration of his primary objective-to throw a strike to the batter-but he watched the runner as well. He was alert.
The alert person knows where he is going and how to get there. But he is not so restricted in his vision that he is not alert to what is taking place in other areas of life around him. His aim may be narrow, but his vision is broad.
One way you can spot an alert man is through conversation. Is he aware of what is happening around him? Can he look and receive instruction? (see Prov. 24:30-32). The alert man can learn from the world around him. The person who does not have this quality is limited and is among the ranks of the millions who need to be taught everything, step by step.
7. He has initiative. I was speaking at a men’s retreat in Northern California. The time for the meeting had come, but the leaders had not appeared. One of the men in the front row looked around the room and remarked that it was time for the meeting. He kept glancing at his watch. We were wasting the time of 150 men who had left their families to come to this retreat. After a few more glances around the room, this man stood up, quieted everyone down, and started the meeting. In that instant he became our leader.
Initiative is one of the basic marks of an achiever. He is aware of what needs to be done and takes steps to do it. He does not need to be pushed, for he is a self-starter. Scripture does not indicate that the apostle Peter “planned” to preach his sermon on the day of Pentecost. But when the opportunity came, he was ready in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. He stood up, took the initiative, and preached. We know the results.
Scripture does not tell us that some time later Peter “planned” to command the lame man at the Beautiful Gate to rise and walk (see Acts 3:1-7). But he was ready, and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth he took the initiative. We know the results. This trait is vital to a leader.
8. He is confident. He will have to be with a variety of people and he should be at home with them all. The rich will call him to serve; the poor will need his help. The high and mighty as well as the lowly people of God will need his ministry and call on him to lend a hand.
To be able to serve one group well but run from another is not a Christlike characteristic. Jesus could stand in the presence of the religious leaders in Jerusalem and minister effectively. He could sit in a lowly home in Galilee and do the same. The common people heard Him gladly. He had an effective ministry in the life of Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
The apostles ministered to multitudes in Jerusalem and also were able to reach some priests. Paul could minister to a young, timid man like Timothy, and at the same time have as friends certain chiefs of the province of Asia.
These eight marks of an achiever may prove helpful to you as you look over your workers in search of the one who may have the potential to be a leader. Every one of these traits does not have to be in full bloom in the man’s life, but be on the alert for some of them, even in the budding stage.
You are not looking for the Hercules of the Christian faith, We all have our strengths and weakness. We do some things better than others. This list is merely illustrative of what you might consider important in the area of achievement as you begin to select a man for training in leadership.
He has stability. He can take the pressure. Leadership is full of it-from all sides, from many people, some positive and some negative. Some people will be making constant demands on him to do more. Others, who don’t like what he is doing, will fight him.
I was ministering in a city where the pastor of one of the largest churches in town had as his goal to drive a Christian worker and his ministry out of town. He brought all sorts of pressure to bear on the man-false accusations, a whispering campaign. It became almost unbearable, but the man stuck to his guns and followed his call from God. In the midst of tremendous opposition, he had a successful ministry. Many people came to Christ as a result.
The normal pressures of life will press in-financial difficulties, family problems, prolonged sickness. David was a man after God’s own heart, yet he had problems-his men spoke of stoning him, his wife turned against him, his son rebelled against him. The pressures were there, but he served God in his generation.
Stability is a necessary quality of a leader and it comes from having a firm belief in the sovereignty of God. To know that God in heaven is in control (see Ps. 115:3); to know that all things do, in fact, work together for good and are brought our way to conform us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ (see Rom. 8:28-29); to know that God’s hand is shaping and molding the events of our lives.
Trust is the key to stability. Trust in God as the loving, caring heavenly Father. A little poem says it well: Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
“I would really like to know Why these anxious human beings Rush about and worry so?”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin: Friend, I think that it must be That they have no Heavenly Father Such as cares for you and me.”
He has organizational ability. He can weld men together into a team. This is a man who knows the simple fact that two men can accomplish more than one if they are properly related to
one another and are organized. He knows the same is true of three, four, or more men. A project of any size can be broken down into workable units with proper organization.
One of the real clues to a man s ability to organize others is to see if he’s organized himself. Does he set realistic goals for himself? Does he achieve them? Is he prompt or chronically late? Is he an opportunist or a strategist? Does he just seem to do whatever shows up next or does he plan his life in accordance with certain God-given goals and priorities? If he can’t organize himself, he certainly will not be able to organize others.
Personal organization is something that can be learned.
Six keys to it are:
1. A realistic look at one s own capacity.
2. A settled conviction as to what God wants done.
3. The ability to do things in the order of their importance.
4. The good sense to leave some free time between projects, knowing things often take longer than planned and that there are always unforeseen interruptions.
5. The faithful keeping of time with God and the priority of the family at the top of the list.
6. Learning how to function with a certain flexibility that is people-centered rather than project-centered. No one can be a good leader who is more concerned with projects than with people.
Six basic rules which will help a person organize a project or event are:
1. Define your mission in exact, specific terms.
2. Break it down and divide it up into manageable and workable units.
3. Set up an organization that will help each unit to accomplish its part of the endeavor.
4. Fill the key spots with well-trained men.
5. Give them full authority to get their jobs done.
6. Check up on them to see that they stick with the main job. In the 1950’s, I worked with Don Rosenberger, then the director of the Christian Youth Crusade in Washington, D. C.
Here is a poem he shared with me :
There may be nothing wrong with you, The way you live, the work you do, But I can very plainly see Exactly what is wrong with me. It isn’t that I’m indolent Or dodging duty by intent; I work as hard as anyone, And yet I get so little done. The morning goes, the noon is here, Before I know, the night is near.
And all around me, I regret, Are things I haven’t finished yet. If I could just get organized! I oftentimes have realized Not all that matters is the man; The man must also have a plan. With you, there may be nothing wrong, But here’s my trouble right along; I do the things that don’t amount To very much, of no account, That really seem important though And let a lot of matters go. I nibble this, I nibble” that, But I never finish what I’m at. I work as hard as anyone, And yet I get so little done, I’d do so much you d be surprised, If I could just get organized!
He has judgment and creativity. These are placed together because they are interrelated, though with many people one usually dominates. If the judicial mind is predominant, the person will be
a steady, thoughtful, methodical, productive leader. If the creative streak is predominant, the person will “get it done with a flair”. He will not necessarily be flamboyant, but there will be a bit more sparkle and pizzazz in his method of operation.
The judicial mind, however, is well able to come up with innovative and creative ideas, and it often does. That type of person merely implements these new ideas in a solid, matter-of-fact manner. The creative mind must do two things: have the good sense to discard the ten mediocre ideas that burst into its consciousness and keep the good one, and to implement it just as surely, though often with a bit more excitement.
The most sensible thing each of these types can do is to make sure they have a counterpart on their team. Here is where the variety of gifts and abilities comes into play. It is a mistake for the leader to fill his team with personalities similar to his own, just because he feels more secure with them. He will do well to have some close collaborators that are at the opposite end of the spectrum in personality, gifts, and abilities. This brings balance to the team and a greater flexibility and effectiveness. Jesus certainly practiced this principle.
These, then, are five qualities to look for in the selection of potential leaders. The leader of a team of workers has a rare and important function in the cause of Christ and should be selected after a great deal of observation and with much prayer.
The Element of Time
The second key to developing a leader of a disciple-making team is time. You must be willing to spend a great deal of time with the person. The example that was set by Jesus comes through
clearly. The example of the apostle Paul is equally obvious. Time must be spent together in the ministry, in your home, in his home, in the normal affairs of life, on trips, at work, and at play.
Time is spent together in the Word discussing doctrine, principles, problems, and blessings. Time should be spent together in prayer and planning. You will want to share your personal battles, your victories and defeats, just as he does with you.
This investment of time, of course, is costly. But if you are called of God to help multiply workers in the harvest fields of the world, you will not be swayed simply because something is tough and costly. And spending time with another person certainly is. Tears, disappointments, thwarted dreams, and heartaches big enough to make you want to give up await you down the line.
Some years ago I was working with two young men who showed great potential. I loved those two men and ached to see them amount to something in the cause of Christ. We spent hours, days, months, and years together. We studied the bible; we prayed. We traveled to weekend conferences and church retreats. But just when I thought we were making some headway, one or both of them would do something so foolish I couldn’t believe it.
I would help pick up the pieces and we would continue. I have no way of calculating the hours I spent in prayer for them. After many years of joy, laughter, bewilderment, disappointment, and victory, they are both carrying a major responsibility in the work of God. They are “harvest workers” in every sense of the term. But it took a great deal of time.
The apostle Paul is a classic example of a leader who spent time with men to help train them for leadership. Timothy accompanied Paul on his journeys. “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me (Phil. 2:22-23).
Because of their close association, Paul could say, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings-what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them” (2 Tim. 3:10-11).
Disappointments came to Paul, for some of the men he had spent time with turned their backs on him. “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica”
(2 Tim. 4: 10).
The Lord Jesus is the best example of one who invested much time in the lives of a few men. “He ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14, KJV). The majority of His time was spent with the Twelve.
Spending time with a person is an important aspect of leadership training. It is scriptural]. Also, a person whom you see only periodically can fake it while he is with you. But given the time frame we see in the leadership training carried on by Jesus and Paul, there is no way that the men could have put on an act. Jesus knew His men well, including Judas.
Selection is important because you would not want to invest all that time of training a leader only to discover you have gone through it all and done it all with the wrong man. Time is important because it takes time to do a right job. Some may think, I don’t have that kind of time. Surely there must be a quicker way. But there isn’t. The time-tested methods of Jesus are still applicable today.
How long does it take for a convert to become a disciple? a disciple a worker? a worker a leader? Because people are so different from one another, the time elements will vary. But general guidelines can be suggested. They are :
Convert to disciple – 2 years
Disciple to worker – 2 years
Worker to leader – 3 years
These are just general figures, for with one person it may take less time and with another more. Possibly as you read these figures and think about them, you might feel that they represent too long a time. You might think that’s too slow and that the processes can be followed in much less time.
With some unusually gifted and dedicated people, you might be able to take less time. But the Bible and my personal experience over the years have shown that the above figures are about what it takes me and others to accomplish the various objectives. Note how long it took Elijah to train Elisha and for Paul to train Timothy before these men were ready to go out on their own.
How Long did Jesus actually spend with the men He trained, and how long would we need to spend with our men in light of the training processes of today? As a statistical “for instance, let’s say Jesus spent twelve hours a day with His men for three years. That’s 4,380 hours a year, and 13,140 hours in those three years.
If we were able to spend seven hours per week with a person (four in church and three elsewhere and that’s a high figure-it would mean that we would spend 365 hours a year with that man. At that rate it would take us thirty-six years to match the time frame used by Jesus. And He was the God-man; were merely human flesh! Seven years is not too much to expect to do a quality work under the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God.
In addition, ask yourself these questions: Is your current program producing a band of faithful people who are able to teach others also? Is the method you have been using currently populating your church with a group of spiritually qualified workers? Would you rather have ten people established as disciples and equipped as workers, or one hundred people partially so? Your answers to these questions will determine your philosophy of the ministry of making disciples.
Also consider and meditate on these Scriptures: `He [a leader (an elder)] must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). “They [leaders (deacons)] must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons (1 Tim. 3:10). “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands [on leadership], and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure (1 Tim. 5:22).
Finally, consider the fact that when God grows an oak, He takes years; a toadstool can come up overnight! Faithful and skillful disciples, workers, and leaders take time to build.