By Tim Massengale
Before any individual can be placed in a position of leadership, the question must first be asked, “Will this person be faithful?” Faithfulness, dependability, reliable, trustworthy – as we have explained before, these are attributes that are worth their weight in gold. They are much more desirable than only talent or ability. It does little good to have a youth leader who is fantastic with kids and terrific in personality, yet cannot be counted upon to fulfill his duties or is not loyal to the pastor. You would much rather have a person of lesser natural talent, but is faithful and dependable. This type of person can be trained and developed into a strong, powerful, leader for God.
Can faithfulness and dependability be trained into a person? Yes . . . sometimes. But it is often a long process, and many a shipwreck has resulted, because dependability is a spiritual problem rather than intellectual. The person must want to change. Such was the case of young John Mark. In Acts l5, Paul felt that Mark was not dependable to go with them, having abandoned them in Pamphylia when the work became difficult. But much later, after someone – perhaps his uncle Barnabas – worked with him, his dependability had strengthened, and Paul sent for him saying, “He is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim 4:11).
Leadership training can often turn a person around. The key is the directing hand of the Holy Ghost. Let the Spirit speak to you concerning an individual. God knows the heart and whether the person is useful to His work or not.
How can you tell if an individual is faithful and dependable? Jesus gave us the answer when He said, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. . .” (Matt. 25:21). Any potential leader should be started out slow and given only minor tasks and responsibilities. Like the disciples of Jesus, they must first learn to be a good follower. As they show themselves trustworthy, you can add more responsibility. Slowly build them and let them grow into a full leadership position. Many a pastor has regretted giving a person “too much, too quick.” Leadership is a “gift” and if a person has the gift, it will “make room for them.” Work with that person; train them; develop them. God did not make us overnight and neither will your own leaders come to full potential overnight. Allow an individual to make at least as many mistakes as we made ourselves.
TRAINING FUTURE LEADERSHIP
An old proverb states, “The mighty oak groweth not in a day.” By the same token, great churches do not spring up overnight. Somewhere, many years before, someone laid the foundation that allowed the church to progress to its present state. Someone with vision and foresight. If a pastor is averaging one hundred today, he must look forward to the day when he will average five hundred. If he has six departments now, the day will come when he will need twice that many. Good leadership doesn’t just “happen.” Leaders are not born, they are developed. A pastor must invest time and money today, if he wants to have quality leadership tomorrow.
The metaphor is similar to that of a farmer. The farmer will spend hundreds of hours cultivating and fertilizing soil, put thousands of dollars worth of seed into the ground, before a crop is ever harvested. So a pastor must plant and cultivate his people to grow the needed leadership of tomorrow.
Many methods of leadership training could be described, and all have some merit. But the best seems to be that of a simple weekly leadership training class that is made available to all who desire to work for God. This class is often taught the same night as Youth Service. Sunday afternoon and before mid-week Bible study is also acceptable. This is so as to not take up another night of the week. Remember, a pastor must be careful not to schedule so many activities that his people have no time left for family or involvement in soulwinning.
The class is usually 45 minutes to an hour long. It begins promptly on time and ends promptly also. This, too, is important. If a pastor expects his leaders to be on time, he must be also.
Some classes begin one-half hour before Youth Service time and ends one-half hour after Youth Service begins (allowing a person to still attend the bulk of youth service if they wish). Others start promptly 45 minutes before service. What time you begin should be determined by the work schedules of your potential leadership. The training should begin with group prayer. Instruction then follows.
Some pastors restrict attendance to the class to only hand picked individuals. How sad! Often times God will reach down and place his hand upon a “David” who may not look the part of a leader. Even Samuel, the Man of God, was surprised that it was not Jesse’s eldest son, Aliab, that God had chosen. A beginning class in leadership development should be open to all who desires to labor in God’s harvest field. Therefore, the subjects taught in this “beginners class” of leadership should be general enough that anyone could benefit by attendance. However, if the pastor sees someone whom he feels may be a future leader, it would be good for him to call that person aside and encourage them attend the class faithfully for one year. This class will be a potential leader’s first test of faithfulness. If they cannot be faithful to a once per week, forty- five minute class, it is doubtful they will be faithful to their leadership responsibilities. It is similar to developing a good football team. You first discover the number of competent players who have been faithful to practice and then you pick your team. It is a foolish coach what would do it the other way around – pick his team and then hope they show up to practice. No wise pastor would do this either.
But if a person begins to slip in attendance, don’t mark them off too quick. They may only need some encouragement to realize that their attendance is important. Work with them, train them and motivate them. Faithfulness can be developed. A pastor must be careful that he doesn’t set the mark of faithfulness so high that no one could obtain it.
WHAT TO TEACH
The curriculum used in this type training is wide and varied. It should cover aspects of leadership, church growth, soulwinning, principles of personal and spiritual success – as well as a “Finding Your Place In The Body” class as mentioned above. Some subjects would be repeated every year. Others would branch out into new and exciting concepts of growth. A pastor should pray and choose each class with care and consideration of the current needs within the Body.
It is best once you’ve picked a subject to announce it to the church. Then a text book is almost always selected and used as a basis of instruction. Some pastors provide the text book free, others charge whatever the book cost them. A unique concept refunds the text book price if the individual attends at least 90% of the classes. If they miss more than that, the price is retained.
A list of suggested books is given at the end of this section. Many are the motivational type books you’ll find in the self-improvement section of any bookstore. Be sure to read them before you select any for class use. Some may have material that you disagree with in principle. As with any secular work, you “take out the meat and throw away the bones.” It will be important that you point out the errors and give them the proper Biblical basis, thereby removing any humanistic slant.
The text that you choose may have twelve to fourteen chapters. The pastor might pick ten of these chapters as his lesson topics and teach for ten weeks. At the end of the course, all graduates should be given an attractive, framed graduation certificate in a church service. This is also a good time to promote your next subject and it’s starting date. It is often good to give a break of two or three weeks between each subject.
This class, for the most part, should be taught by the pastor. Occasionally the pastor may wish to use another individual who is highly competent and adept at teaching. But this should be the exception rather than the rule. It is good for the pastor to force into his busy schedule the time to read and study this type material. It keeps his vision fresh and his burden alive for the future of the church.
A man can only reproduce himself into his leaders if he is willing to spend time with them. Such is the example we have in the life of Christ. He spent three and a half years training leadership before he ever tried to establish a church. The same concept is exemplified in the church by Paul and Timothy. Then after Paul taught Timothy, he wrote to him and told him to do the same to others: “Commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
So often we get our priorities completely misplaced. It is not uncommon to see a church spent sixty to seventy percent of it’s budget on the church facility and equipment. But for the most part, buildings and equipment do not cause growth. People win people, not structures of wood, steel, and glass. And since people are the cause of growth, would it not be wise to place the bulk of our limited financial resources into people? The pastor that neglects to develop and utilize his people for ministry will often times loose them to another church which does.
How about it, pastor? Are you placing your burden, vision, and ministry into the lives of others? Are you investing time, money, and effort into developing strong and healthy body? God help us! Open our eyes to see the vision of an army going forth to battle, every soldier trained and equipped to bring forth a mighty victory of endtime revival!
TRAINING YOUR DEPARTMENT LEADERS
Developing future leaders and workers is essential for growth. But this is not the only type of training that is needed. Those that you currently have in leadership positions need to be trained also. They need to become skilled in the areas of administration, organization, and management. These are not the type subjects that you would necessarily teach in your beginning leadership development class. Rather, this is the material that managers need – people who work with people, lead people, motivate people, and train people. Within every department is a substructure of workers. Sunday School has their teachers and helpers. Bus Ministry has bus captains. Home Bible Study has their teachers and Visitor Reception has ushers and hostesses. The same management principles that a pastor utilizes within the church are the principles needed within the departments. The church will grow as the departments grow – and the department will grow only as it’s leader grows.
Your department leaders all desire to be successful in the work of God. No one wants to be a failure. This is especially true of your department heads, otherwise they would not have accepted the position. But now it’s the pastors responsibility to help them succeed. Good management practices are not natural abilities for most people. They must be trained; and if they are not trained, they will be continually frustrated. They need to be taught, “how to motivate people,” “how to develop a team spirit,” “how to manage your time,” “how to delegate,” and many others.
What has been successful in many churches is to have a half hour of leadership instruction for your department heads at the Monthly Planning Council. This training can be very “management specific.” But rather than a book to read, you will find that cassette tapes work best here. Purchase a tape on a particular management subject. Many can be obtained from the larger book stores. Use this as a basis for training your leaders in the fine art of dealing with people.
At the end of this chapter are several highly recommend tape sources that can be adapted to church use. Some are of a religious nature, others are entirely secular. Again, there are some “bones” in this material. You may wish to edit the tapes before running off copies for your directors. (Notice – these tapes are copyrighted. They can be used only within the church organization and cannot be duplicated for resale. You may wish to purchase a set for each director).
After providing a copy of one of the tapes to each director, ask them to listen to it at least twice during the month. Then, at the next Monthly Council, you should teach the same material, giving it a proper biblical foundation and applying it to each department’s need. The tape is then exchanged for another and the process is repeated. In this manor, the directors are continually growing both mentally and spiritually.
At the top of each departments monthly report is the question, “Have you completed this months training assignment?” If a director is not listening to the training material, you should speak to him and encourage him to make up any missed assignments. It is important that the directors learn the needed principles of working with people. This will make their responsibilities a joy rather than a burden.
Jesus spoke truly when he said, “The pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he is fully taught, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40 RSV). Likes produce likes. To truly change the world, we must have a changed church. To change the church we must have a changed leadership. To change the leadership, we must have a changed Man of God. If a pastor wants his leaders to grow, then he must be willing to grow himself. Napoleon realized this when he said, “There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels.” A pastor must be willing to invest time, effort, and money if he wants his leadership to grow. The law of sowing and reaping takes effect here. What you put into your directors and young leaders will be exactly what you get out. If you do nothing, you’ll get out nothing. If you think your people are only backward, ignorant country hicks, that’s exactly what you’ll have.
Several years ago, at Harvard University, Dr. Robert Rosenthal conducted an intriguing experiment on “human expectation.” This particular experiment involved teachers and their students and started at the beginning of the school year.
Dr. Rosenthal called in three elementary teachers and told them that they had been selected above all the other teachers in the city because of their superior teaching ability – that observation and testing had shown that no teacher was better. They were asked to participate in a study using high I.Q. children. The ninety brightest students in the district were to be given them for one year, thirty pupils in each class. The study wished to measure academic growth when superior high-aptitude children were coupled with superior high- quality teachers. But there were two strict conditions: Neither the children nor the children’s parents were to ever know that an experiment was being conducted. The three teachers eagerly agreed – it was the chance of a lifetime. Well, needless to say, the student’s progress was phenomenal. The three classes completed the school year with the highest scores in the city – over a 90% average in every subject.
Only then was the real purpose of the experiment revealed. Not one of the three teachers, nor the ninety students, were of superior ability in any way. All had been chosen by computer completely at random. The only difference was what the teachers thought. In other words, what they expected of themselves and what they expected of their students!
How you see and treat your people will reflect your attitude toward them, and will also influence their capability to perform. Michelangelo is said to have been pulling a block of granite in a cart down the street one afternoon. Someone called out, “What have you got?” He replied, “An angel that wants to come out.” What have you got, pastor? Do you have leaders waiting to be carved out of the ruff rock of humanity? Is there a David or Saul that’s only waiting for the “Man of God” to call them?
Allow this chapter to conclude with a simple, yet profound statement you may have read on a dime-store plaque:
Everyone Is A Potential Winner
Some People Are Disguised As Losers
Don’t Let Their Appearance Fool You.