A critical investment

(Continued from my last post)

2. Invest in potential leaders

As I attempted to provide leadership for our ministry teams who are without leaders, I found it surprisingly easy to deceive myself into believing that my over-functioning behavior was an act of service. The truth, however, was that I was simply feeding my hunger for control and closure: get it done and move on to the next task. (This beast is the bane of many leaders, but that’s a topic for another day.) As an equipper, the appropriate behavior is to invest in potential leaders.

Who is a potential leader?

My view on leadership is somewhat atypical. I believe that any and every Christian is called to lead in one respect or another. When viewed through the lens of the Great Commission, we are all called to lead others to Christ. That makes every Christian a leader. The style of leadership is what differentiates one leader from another.

I’ve had the joy recently of watching my granddaughter learn to walk. Sometimes her mommy is in front of her, beckoning her to come. Sometimes Mommy is beside her, holding one hand to help with balance. And at other times Mommy is behind her, holding both hands as she guides her forward.¬† Likewise, some leaders are out front leading the charge, so to speak. Some leaders come alongside or lead from the middle of the team. And yet other leaders lead from behind, exhorting and encouraging as they propel.

My role as an equipping leader is to help believers identify their unique style of leadership so that they lead from their strengths rather than try to fit the cultural perception of a leader or–worse–abandon the idea of leading altogether because they don’t fit the stereotype. Since my time and energy are finite, it behooves me to identify those who are ready to explore their potential for leading, investing myself in them even as I set the example for them to invest in others.

How do I invest in potential leaders?

Mentor them. And if I intend to practice what I preach–that is, be true to my own style of leadership–it’s imperative that I understand my own strengths when it comes to mentoring. Steve Saccone identified seven mentoring styles that I find helpful:

  • The Wise Sage
  • The Opportunity Giver
  • The Informal Discipler
  • The Example Setter
  • The Coaching Mentor
  • The Spiritual Director
  • The Caring Counselor
  • The Focused Activator

You can read more about them here, and I encourage you to do so. Pray and ponder about which style/styles are yours. Keep in mind that you may feel comfortable with more than one style, which certainly broadens your ability to develop leaders. As you identify potential leaders around you, consider which mentoring style might work best with an individual. If it’s not a style you are comfortable with, perhaps that’s not the person you are to mentor. If you are part of a team of leaders who each understand their own mentoring style, you can direct that person to someone on your team whose style is a better match.

Want to be a more effective equipping leader? Help others…