Influence

 the shape of leadership

The Four C’s of Leadership Development

Assembling and growing your dream team

I recently searched a fantasy football website to discover a certain quarterback’s rating. Within two mouse clicks, I was able to analyze his performance in 16 categories, from weather conditions and playing surface to home versus road games and indoor and outdoor stadiums.

Success in fantasy football ultimately comes down to having the right players on the team and in the right positions.

The same is true in the local church. Identifying and recruiting the right leaders, combined with training and placing them in the right positions, affects the trajectory of the church. Unfortunately, no such exhaustive scouting reports exist to offer us critical insights into potential ministry leaders.

To mine the data, we read resumes, call references, and organize both group and private interviews. Depending on the church culture, we might also ask candidates to take a few assessments.

No matter how diligent, stringent and intentional the process for developing leaders may be, assembling a great team isn’t always easy. I’d like to offer four critical categories that contribute to placing potential leaders in the right ministry positions. I evaluate leaders’ strengths and weaknesses in each of four categories, which I call the four C’s.

Calling

God calls me to engage in ministry using the natural and spiritual gifts He has provided. All believers have this calling, regardless of their profession. There are no exceptions.

Likewise, God calls some individuals into vocational ministry. Let me offer some commentary here because many people misunderstand and misconstrue this biblical role.

I don’t receive a paycheck for doing ministry. Remember, all believers are part of the body of Christ and have a calling to perform ministry; this is a biblical mandate, and vocational ministers are not exempt from it.

As a vocational minister, my job is facilitating, organizing, and directing those who perform acts of ministry in and outside the church. I don’t receive pay for doing ministry but for facilitating ministry through others.

Understanding this distinction determines which people I place on staff. If a potential leader cannot facilitate ministry through others, they are not yet ready to move into positions of staff leadership. Advancing them inevitably stagnates the growth of the church because they assume their role is to do ministry. It is not.

Calling is significant. Do potential staff members understand that their general calling is to serve? Do they function as ministry facilitators?

Character

I recently read that character forms over a lifetime of sustained congruency between the inner and outer life. It is a life void of pretense, facades and hidden worlds beyond the purview of prying eyes. Another synonym for character is integrity.

The apostle Paul said church elders should be “above reproach” (Titus 1:6-7, ESV). These were leaders whose outward behaviors reflected the transformative work of Christ inwardly. It is from these and other passages that we come to see that in the life of the church, being proceeds doing.

Finding a leader’s capacity is part of our biblical assignment as ministry equippers.

In a time when people value appearance, image, quality and production, leaders must hold to the basic tenet that character trumps talent. Who a leader is in the realm of character ultimately is more essential than what they can do. Why? Because ministry flows out of who we are.

Competency

When we talk about competencies in ministry, we usually think of platform skills. While I believe that ministry leaders should be able to teach and preach, there are hundreds of skill sets they must also master.

Rather than wading through a long and exhaustive list of skills, begin by gauging an emerging leader’s grasp and execution of six dominate ministry roles.

  • Visionary leadership: How effectively does the emerging leader provide direction, inspiration, motivation and plans for moving forward in ministry?
  • Spiritual leadership: How well does he or she balance the practical side of leadership while creating a spiritually vibrant atmosphere?
  • Team building: Does the leader effectively build ministry teams and sustain team cohesion?
  • Team facilitating: How effective is the leader at training, delegating and placing others in ministry positions?
  • Growth: Is his or her ministry growing by engaging the community through evangelism?
  • Resource management: Does he or she make good decisions regarding the management of time, people, finances and facilities?

Capacity

Fill up any container to the brim, and it has reached its capacity. Add one more drop, and the container begins to overflow and make a mess. This same capacity effect is evident in the lives of emerging leaders.

We may measure capacity by the volume of people leaders can oversee, the number of tasks they can sustain, or even the amount of pressure they can bear up under. Finding a leader’s capacity is part of our biblical assignment as ministry equippers. Discovering the threshold is not only important for the individual but also for the organization.

I believe delegation is the most effective method for discovering an emerging leader’s unique capacity. Without delegating to them ever-increasing ministry duties and responsibilities, they will never reach or know their capacity. Likewise, you will never know what they can do.

The consequences of underestimating capacity are debilitating to the organization and the emerging leader. High-capacity leaders become stuck in low-capacity roles and eventually wither from a lack of challenges and meaningful contributions.

Frustrated, many high-capacity leaders disengage and assume more challenging opportunities within the workplace, leaving the church’s leadership bench woefully shallow.

On the flip side, it’s easy to recognize when we delegate emerging leaders beyond their brim. Sooner or later, a mess begins to develop as organizational, relational and emotional issues spill over. This is just part of the discovery process.

Calling and character are the first two C’s I attempt to measure in the lives of potential church leaders. Those leaders who embrace both aspects of their calling — doing and facilitating — are valuable. When they also have stellar character, advancement produces growth in them and the church.

The truth is, we all have a brim and a sweet spot. Take heart: The good news is that both capacity and competency can increase with coaching and reflection.

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