Equipping and Developing, Part 2

Peter Drucker said in his excellent book, "Managing the Non-Profit Organization", "Any organization develops people; it has no choice. It either helps them grow or stunts them. It either forms them or it deforms them." Whew! ...that is a lot to think about and it's a huge responsibility.

In the last edition of "The Pastor's Coach" I introduced the idea of two top leadership skills, equipping and developing, and the difference between the two. In part one, we focused on equipping. If you have not read it, it will be most helpful to read it before you read this article. This edition will cover developing - or at least take a running stab at it - it's quite a comprehensive topic. In review, I said that:

+ Equipping is preparing someone for a specific ministry task.
+ Developing is investing in someone for their personal growth.
+ Equipping is transactional - it's an exchange.
+ Developing is transformational - it's a gift.
+ Equipping is based largely on the church's agenda.
+ Developing is based largely on the person's agenda.

Developing is truly an art, but you need not feel like you are the artist because God, the Master Artist, is in on the process. If you'll pick up the paint brushes, and ask Him to guide your hands, you'll be amazed at the masterpieces you'll be a part of creating. Of course, these masterpieces are not to be hung on the walls of your church. They are people who are set free (empowered) to do significant ministry.

Developing is investing in someone for their personal growth. It is often best done in a small group setting, but many approaches can work. It's not just another super-charged twist on discipleship. It's a bigger idea than the discipleship we are commonly accustomed to in North American churches. You can complete a discipleship course, but you are never finished developing as a person. In general, Christendom has done a good job in the entry-level stuff - basics in the faith and even some deeper spiritual life material. But the majority of material seems to stop short of life skills - real life skills necessary to successfully negotiate life and integrate our biblical principles into that daily life. We on the INJOY team focus on one large area of development - leadership - which, of course, is a major bias in my work and writing. My passion and focus on leadership as a focal point of development is because it is the largest and most encompassing of the disciplines. Without leadership we don't have the influence needed to draw others into spiritual life and community.

Developing is a gift - it's transformational in nature. The artist paints a picture without demanding performance. There is a huge metamorphosis that takes place between the paints on the pallet and the finished painting that communicates its own expression of beauty. The church leader who develops others does not do so with the sole and ultimate goal of a certain response in exchange. It carries with it more of an empowering process that sets the person free to live and lead as God directs. It's about life change. This is not a mystical, weird, "what the heck is he talking about?" process. For those of you who know me, you know I'm not a mystical guy - I'm practical and down to earth. What I want to communicate is that if you will make investments in someone's personal growth in the form of a gift, with no strings attached, then God has an opportunity to use them in a unique and powerful way. There is something about a gift that is powerful - the greater the gift, the greater the unleashing of power. Christ Himself is the ultimate gift and the ultimate power. Bottom line...if you have developed someone - they are a changed person. And they are not indebted to you, but to God.

Developing is based largely on the person's agenda. (What's best for them - in relationship to the Kingdom of God.) Expediency, and sometimes panic, causes us to want to show people how to teach Sunday School and work in the parking lot. That is all well and good - gotta have both. That's equipping. It's good stuff! But developing delivers what people need - life skills such as managing healthy relationships, embracing wisdom, cultivating creativity, living out true priorities, and deepening personal integrity (all components of leadership!). We tend to want to jump ahead to classes like "how to survive your teenagers," or "how to get a raise in salary." These are great; but if detached from a larger developmental vantage point, they are just another class.

There are a number of "don'ts" when it comes to developing people, such as:

* Don't attempt to build on people's weaknesses.

Schools do it far too often. They tend (sometimes of necessity) to focus on what kids can't do. Instead of saying "Sally seems to have a gift in writing, she should pursue it more," many educators say, "Sally is not doing well in math, she must do more math." Poor choice. The school doesn't know what Sally will be doing in twenty years, but we have an eternal perspective that serves as a guiding compass in our developmental endeavors. As I work with church leaders, it is interesting to me that they can all quickly recite what they are not good at, but struggle naming their dominant, developed and flourishing gifts. Hmmmm.

* Don't crown the princes and princesses.

In the past I have been guilty of touting my trophies, and have been convicted by the Lord. Have you ever done that? You know, lifting up the handsome and powerful people as the perfect model? Inferring that their personality type and leadership style is the preferred one. Inferring also that anything short of that is inadequate. This not only robs God of His due glory by implying that He isn't in on the process, but also potentially sets us up for sins such as envy, idolatry and covetousness. Be thankful for your princes; be grateful for your princesses - but don't hold regular coronation services.

* Don't judge a book by its cover.

This is a mirror idea to the prince/princess concept. When I think about Jesus' choices of people to develop, He surely didn't judge a book by its cover. Take, for example, Peter, Levi, and Thomas. You've got to be kidding; the church boss, the church treasurer and the church wet blanket all in the "core" group!? Think of what you'd hear them saying: "Do it my way," "We can't afford it," and "We've never done it that way before." What was Jesus thinking? He was thinking what the Father willed! He looked at the heart and saw the potential. (I wanted to include Judas as the church organist, but thought that might be pushing my luck.)

* Don't try to develop everyone.

Ok, time to add some balance to the last two points. You can't invest leadership development into everyone in your church. Some don't want it; some aren't ready; not everyone will connect and respond to you; and others cannot pass on what you invest. Jesus didn't invest in everyone. Jesus chose twelve, and of the twelve, three. (And didn't that cause a stink? Been there?) Choose wisely.

So what are a few of the "do's" of developing? The following are several key guidelines to follow within the specific context of spiritual leadership.

* The church leaders who desire to develop others must continue to develop as leaders themselves.

You can't develop others in ways you haven't developed yourself. And even if you are "older and wiser" than those you are developing, you will lose the cutting edge of relevance and influence if you stop peddling and try to coast. We typically begin to coast at the top of our game, (at the top of a hill) but eventually you come to the bottom of the hill and it's time to go up again. Keep peddling.

* It's essential to know what a leader looks like before you attempt to develop one.

The great artists of the Renaissance saw the image before they began painting. The great developers do the same. However, when Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel he wasn't concerned about reproducing another. In contrast, when you and I develop someone, even though no two are exactly the same, we must have a reproducible blueprint to follow that includes both character traits and skill sets. In the context of leadership, I Timothy 3 is a good place to start.

* Developers must be able to see people as they can become, not just as they are.

I'm so glad my first church had eyes of faith. I served as an associate/youth pastor at Lakeside Wesleyan Church, a small and in many ways modest church, but the pastor, Richard Lauby, dared to develop me in my raw stages. Those poor people, they got it all. My first sermon in 1979, my first stupid idea (I'm not even telling ya what it was), my first conflict with a board member, my first attempt at a youth fund raiser selling light bulbs. Yes, light bulbs. The problem was the people we sold them to preferred the light bulbs not be broken upon delivery. Rich, thank you for launching the beginnings of my development as a leader! Thanks for taking a risk on me.

* Developing people is a long-term process not a short-term project.

Developing people is not an add water and stir process. It takes time. It's not a "I can name that tune in __ seconds" game. We don't sing just the first and third stanzas. We sing the whole song!

* Include both formal structures and informal connections in your developmental processes.

Without the formal structures, the time and priority pressures of life will soon crowd out the existence of your developmental process. Without the informal connections the process is potentially void of relational warmth and can become too mechanical and ridged. It is necessary to center your meetings around set times, objectives, and curriculum. But it is equally important to "do life" together. (See Jesus' model.) Share yourself, but be sure to enjoy the process and have some fun along the way. It's often in the informal times that the most learning takes place.

* Personalize the process of development as much as possible.

Structures, processes, curriculum, and measurable outcomes are all needed and important. But as much as possible, personalize each person's experience. Find out what's on their mind and heart. What makes them tick? What are their strengths and passions? What do they dream about? How do they envision their ministry partnership? What's their preferred style of learning and communication? Ask questions, follow-up, challenge and pray.

If you don't equip people, your church won't get off the ground. If you equip your people, your church will fly. If you develop them as well, your church will soar!!

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter 'The Pastor's Coach' available at www.injoy.com.