Leadership development is not a destination; it’s a journey requiring intentionality and time. “Throwing someone in the deep end” is desperation, not strategy.
When we view volunteers as leaders who are influencers of our children we see more than what they do, we see who they are and who they are becoming. It’s not just about our team getting things done, it’s about us growing in love for God and the children and developing our skills so that we better communicate His life changing message.
I believe that every volunteer should be growing as they serve and it is our responsibility to help make that happen by offering opportunity, responsibility and support to those we lead. Some will grow as great followers while others will emerge as leaders of leaders. These are the very people who will take the ministry to new levels of creatively and impact as we morph and change to connect with children and families in a relevant way.
If you want to raise great leaders:
Build them: Be willing to invest in relationships. Who is on the team? You can’t be on the same page if you are never in the same room. I find out more about people through “playing together”. Time is precious so we don’t want to waste it. Invest in your team to spend some time together relationally. Discover who are the great followers and who are the emerging ministry leaders. The more you know one another the more you will appreciate and trust each other.
When did you last do something fun together?
Empower them: Different volunteers have different capacities for leadership. Your role as the leader is to discover how you can increase the capacity of each volunteer without “bursting” them. It’s like filling a balloon: not enough air and it’s no fun, too much and… well, you know what happens then.
Are your leaders feeling challenged or burdened, released or restricted? Ask them!
Include them: Everyone perceives things differently so when a group of people come together and share you get a more complete picture of any situation. You also get more ideas to relevantly connect with our kids and their families. Don’t be restricted by what you are teaching; listen to others and be willing to adapt. This does not mean changing direction totally, it means listening and moving with the rhythm of children and their families.
People grow through painful experiences so ask where are they hurting now? What is it that they need? How can we most effectively bring the truth of God to collide with the realities of life? Jesus took people from their current mindset and moved them to a new way of thinking. By adapting and responding, we can connect with our kids and their families where they are, then lead them into a new experience.
What aspects of your ministry have changed this year?
Lead them: As a leader we have to see far enough out from the present to know where we want to go. It is easy to assess our current situation... it is much harder to navigate into the unknown, to push through in a new direction. Even small changes that we make along the way have to be communicated with clarity and purpose in order to lead others. Frustration creeps in when volunteers do not know clearly where they are going and what is expected.
A great leader will not only want to lead well but they will want others to succeed too. It is not all about one central leader doing everything. Sustainable ministries are built with leaders who are willing to lift one other up; to support them and sustain them for the long haul.
As you lead in your ministry, who are you raising up?
Children and Families Pastor
Crossway Baptist Church, Melbourne