Developing Large Capacity Leaders
We need large-capacity leaders around us, and we ourselves need to become large-capacity leaders. I believe that God is looking for big-capacity people as leaders. He therefore initiates the kind of growth in us that will make us big-hearted people. Our capacity for truth and for God increases as we embrace His adjustments. As we develop our ability to adjust, we become bigger people. If we resist change and refuse adjustment, however, we will remain small, and small-capacity leaders simply cannot raise up others who are large capacity leaders.
- Our theology is too small. We need a larger theology in order to enlarge our capacity. Our concept of God is, for the most part, far too small, and so we need to develop a larger concept of God. We place such limitations on Him, and we have shrunk Him down in our minds.If you have a limited mind and approach to God, it will reflect in your leadership. It is always important that a leader be equipped, well-read and well informed. This applies to scriptural issues as well as life issues. The greatest enemy of the work of God has always been a small thinking capacity. Grow your theology and your understanding of life and begin to develop as a large capacity leader.
- We cannot enlarge our capacity for people that are different to us. Why is it that we are so threatened by people that are different to us, or who do things differently to the way we do? Most of the time, those who do things differently to the way we do, are not actually doing anything wrong. They simply do not do things the way we do. The fact that this is something we may be a little (or even very) uncomfortable with does not necessarily make it wrong.
In the same way, we need to enlarge our capacity for people who do things better than we do. Why is it that those who are leading churches often struggle to bring people through who can do things better than they can? Sometimes leaders struggle so much with this that they make it difficult for those individuals to stay in their church.If someone can preach better than we can, can prophesy better than us, why is it that we will not let them stay? Often it is because we have a small capacity ourselves. When we have a small capacity, then these people cause us to feel threatened and we feel we have to get them out. What we should do is become large-capacity people who are able to handle being surrounded by those who can do things better than we can, without being threatened. A greater leader invests in people with better even greater gifting than he/she and nurtures it without getting threatened by it.
- We cannot cope with change. Our ability to embrace change also impacts on the capacity we have as people and as leaders. We should ask ourselves this question: “Am I really willing to let God enlarge me?” We can study and work with the best leaders, but if we cannot develop our own capacity in and for God, we will go nowhere. Leaders must trust God to enlarge them so that they are big enough to cope with whatever comes their way.
Big-capacity people are able to open their hearts to all types of people and are not shattered when their comfort zones are stretched. They find God’s way when faced with change and make the adjustments that are required of them, and they prosper even when circumstances are not favourable. These are the kind of people who make skilful leaders, leaders who are worthy of service to the King.
If we have a small capacity as leaders, we will most probably have small-capacity people who follow us. Any big-capacity people who come into our midst are likely to leave and find big-capacity leadership elsewhere. They sit in the church and immediately they discern, without any spiritual discernment, that the leader is insecure. The only reason someone like that will stay in our church is because they want a holiday, or they want to take control of the church, and so they look for small-capacity leaders that they can control.
- We are unfocused, and there are a number of causes of that. We become unfocused when we are involved in too many things other than what God has called us to, even when they have some legitimacy in themselves. 2 Timothy 2:2-7 says: And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Once God has ‘recruited’ us we should not be constantly involved in ‘civilian affairs’. There are all sorts of things that are not evil and that are even legitimate in themselves, but which we simply should not be preoccupied with. When we are, we give far too much time to them and lose our focus on the things that God wants us to do. There were some things that were important or legitimate that Jesus would not allow to distract Him from what He was called to be and to do. When we find ourselves with a crowd that loves us and wants to honour us, most of us want to stay there. Jesus would not allow that. He moved on when it was time to move on.He would not allow their adoration to distract Him.
He would not allow people’s needs to distract Him either, not even legitimate needs. In every single church there are legitimate needs, and pastors often allow themselves to be unnecessarily distracted by legitimate needs. They are distracted from what God has called them to focus on doing.
The majority of leaders are fighting battles that God never called them to fight. All of their time and all of their energy are being dissipated because they are caught up with fighting the wrong battles. We have to choose carefully the battles we fight, just as Jesus did. There were some battles He simply did not get involved in.We chase every new thing, each new ‘move of God’ that comes through the Church. When we do, each new thing becomes our current focus, and we shift that as soon as the next new thing comes along. Someone arrives and tells us that this is the ‘in’ thing, and we get everybody to do that. Someone else comes in a few weeks later with something new, and we simply drop the last thing and make that the new emphasis – and so it goes on. Eventually our people begin to think that we are schizophrenic.
I am not saying that we should not take notice of these things at all, but we do need to develop the ability to determine what is of God and what is not. Then we need to develop the ability to take the last thing that God legitimately brought back into the Church and sustain that, even as we embrace the next thing He restores. We do not simply dump the last thing that was legitimate when He restores the next thing. He does not want us to lose any of what He is doing in the Church.
We become unfocussed when:
a. We are involved in things God did not call us to.
b. We are fighting the wrong battles.
c. We chase after every new thing that comes along.
d. We are striving to be with the ‘in’ crowd.
When we choose to do something new we must first examine it in the light of the Scriptures. If there is something that is good and is Biblically sound, take that and throw out anything that is not. Secondly hold this new thing against your essential vision and purpose. If it is contrary to your vision and purpose as a ministry then it must not be done. Our Primary vision is to Build Hope and Wholeness, to spread the message of hope through Christ through discipleship. If someone suggests that we start a new initiative, we must first ask ourselves if it is biblically sound and then also if this initiative helps us to achieve our mission.
- The fear of failure. So many of us who are leaders are continually covering our tracks so that we can blame someone else if things go wrong. We minimise risk because we are scared of failing and of taking the blame when something does not work out. Please hear me. There are times when we simply have to go out on a limb. There are times that we have to let people know where we stand and, if we foul up, to take the blame. Mark Twain put it something like this: “Get out on a limb; that is where all the fruit is.”There is a story of an old Scottish Presbyterian minister, a godly man, who was preaching on one occasion when a large man, an alcoholic, walked into the service and started screaming and shouting. The preacher had given instructions to some of the men in the church in the event of any distractions of that kind from people coming in from the pub next door. They were to pick them up and take them out. So, when this alcoholic man was screaming and shouting, the preacher told them to throw him out the door.A woman stood up and said, “Sir, you are supposed to be a man of God. How can you throw a drunk out of the meeting?” He said, “Well, I want to cast the demon out but I do not know that I have the authority to, so I get the man out and that way I can make sure the demon goes with the man.” A practical approach perhaps, but in actual fact there is something in his actions that is a fear of failure. He was covering his tracks.Please think about this as leaders. Be honest with yourselves. How often have you made sure that every little thing is covered so that, at the end of the day, whether it works or not, you are not going to come out looking stupid.
Someone else may be blamed, but you will still look good.An effective leader takes responsibility for messes and complaints, mistakes and failures that happen at their station. The failings within Ascend Church are my fault as the pastor. I take full responsibility for them without fear and prejudice. MY desire is that the same attitude and heart is owned by everyone and we take responsibility for the ministry’s mistakes with a heart to bring effectiveness and repair to our faults without having to hide things in fear.
- Unavailability to mentor one-on-one or in small groups. In Mark 3:13- 15 we read the following:
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
Jesus, the best teacher and leader showing us how He did it, and one of the first things He did is that He wanted those He chose to be with Him. This is so unlike the way most leaders work today. They do not have any time to be with those they lead. We often have plenty of time to preach, but no time to simply be with people.
A leader’s failings will most likely be seen when he is absent
We will never bring through large-capacity people if we are not prepared to give people time. I am not talking about idle time. Some people have an hour to kill and they want to kill it with us, and too much of that will eventually kill us. I am talking about spending time with those whose potential we can see. We answer their questions, encourage them, correct them, love them, disciple them and assure them of our commitment and our confidence in them. In the same sense, you as a leader must constantly plug in to your pastor and “discipler” so he/she can pour into you. As a mature christian in Christ, you also must have a true conviction that brings you closer for your questions to be answered, your heart to be repaired, to receive love and assurance. Start actively speaking life and developing young leaders as well because your leadership will be measured by the likeminded young people you raised.
- We are too afraid to hold people accountable, to confront or challenge them. This is an important part of mentoring and discipleship. We should not let those we are mentoring get away with things, but correct them whenever necessary. We are not to make fools out of them, but we need to confront them at times. Sometimes we may even need to do that publicly, but we should still do it from a father’s heart and continue to disciple them until they have grown to the extent that they have gone beyond us.Another reason we fail to raise up large-capacity leaders is because we try to make them all think, act, speak, preach, dress, etc. the way we do. This type of leadership reveals false motives for being in ministry. If we want everyone to be like us, we will generally become controlling and manipulative and dictatorial.
Accountability will never be a wrong thing to ask from your team, and in the mission we often get lazy at requiring it from people, they must be willing to be subjected to a process of accountability. Furthermore we cannot develop people if we cannot challenge them. I believe that we have to constantly steer people towards a better way of doing things and an organisation should never become complacent. Each of its small components should continue to move forward towards the vision.
- We delegate the wrong things to the wrong people (in the context of church leadership). There are certain functions that cannot be delegated to other elders. For instance, the lead pastor/elder should develop and vision and the steering perspective of the church. There are some meetings the lead pastor cannot delegate to other people. (Side note here… The bible uses the word “Elder” to refer to pastors)If you are the visionary elder of the church, you need to meet with your elders regularly. There is simply no way around that. You cannot ask another one of the elders on the eldership (co-pastor) team to keep meeting with them. You have to do it. If you are absent a lot, you have to make time to be with them when you are there. You also need to meet with your deacons regularly.In the New Testament pattern for the Church, both elders and deacons are given to the Church as significant governmental functions in the life of a local church. For that reason, you need to meet with deacons as much as you need to meet with the elders. It is for this reason that we have so many frequent meetings and plans that we use to meet and discuss, pray and pour into each other for the sake of excellence in the church.
As a co-labourer in the house you cannot miss these meetings or take them for granted. You have to take ownership of your mandate and run it as you must.When we also look at Acts 6, and if we assume that those who were appointed there were deacons, then it is clear that these were not just practical people; they were spiritual people with spiritual ministries. That is why they had to be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. That would not have been required if all they were going to do was take care of the practical tasks. These men were appointed to take care of maintaining godly relationships in the body, not only to feed the poor or feed the widows or, as we so often think today, to put up the overhead projector, make sure the chairs are put out, etc.For that reason (because it is a spiritual ministry) you need to be involved with the in these meetings regularly. Where you will be asked what is happening in the life of the church, how the people are doing. You must therefore be in contact with the church the whole time. You must know the pulse of the church and be aware of hurts and pains within the sheep so you can relay this to the visionary and begin to develop (with other elders) how to heal those ails.
- Our life does not match our message. We want sacrifice from the people, but we protect ourselves. We encourage them to trust God for their finances, for their needs to be met, etc., but we ensure that we are first in line with available church finances. In other words, our life does not match our message.We tell them it is important to be available and vulnerable, but we protect ourselves and we are not available or vulnerable ourselves. We justify our wife’s or our children’s behaviour (their attitudes, their sin and their failure) from the pulpit. We get up and say, “My wife has been under too much pressure. That is why she cries all the time or why she screams at people.” When we start preaching to cover up the sins of our family, our life does not match our message.
There is nothing worse than hypocrisy in leadership. I get really frustrated when I hear leaders announce prayer on Wednesday and they never show up for that meeting. Its horrible and we should have zero tolerance for hypocrisy within the leadership. If you want to lead people, be willing to do what you are asking them to do. If we want them to raise their hands and pray, then we should raise our hands.
- When we try to be a one-man show instead of being a genuine part of a team. When the lead elder does all the praying and all the preaching it makes everyone else feel inadequate and insecure, and it stops them from rising up. We do not raise up large-capacity leaders because of an inability to discern the true spiritual stature of those we release. So often in a time of need we choose certain people to come onto an eldership or the deacon team because of those needs, without any true discernment as to whether they can actually carry the office. We also need to learn not to make decisions under pressure that are going to have negative long-term ramifications.Don’t put people in authority that are not ready to operate even as you select people to work within your department. We need an ability to discern whether a person truly is a leader or not. Enjoy friendships, but do not give those people an office that God has not given them.Sometimes even as leaders we try to raise up an entire church, department or ministry alone and we easily get burnt out. We need to raise other people that we can work with and delegate tasks to them. If you are in any department you have to ensure this department does not collapse in your absence. Your vision in selecting and raising these people is a key asset in establishing the people you must work with.