Raising up leaders is never easy. There always seems to be a demand to raise up leaders now or the push to find the right guys to put in place for the future. Then once you find the right person, what do you do to get them to a place where they are prepared for the full brunt of what it means to lead others?
The great news for those in the church, the means to make leaders is laid out in front of us and it has nothing to do with a riveting book or an eight week class.
God’s means to make leaders is what it has always been: discipleship.
It is the process we see Paul challenge the Corinthian church when he beckons them to, “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” It is the echo of what Paul tells Timothy, “teach others what I entrusted to you.” We see the same pattern played out as Elijah anoints Elisha as the prophet to replace him one day, but until that moment Elisha follows Elijah as His assistant so he can glean what it takes to be a prophet of God.
Jesus chose 12 men to follow Him as His disciples in Luke 6 and His charge to them was to die to self and follow Him. For almost two years they listened, watched, learned and served before it was their time to go lay the foundation of the New Testament church.
Leadership is all about looking to the person and work of Jesus as the ultimate trailblazer – and as we watch, learn and follow – the Spirit works to prune, mold and empower. We follow the narrow path that the Messiah has laid out for us, but that often means we need a guide to show us the way until we can bear the brunt of the path itself.
Playing The Long Game
God has laid out the means for us to follow, but do we have the patience to invest in and pour into others? There is no full-proof, step-by-step, calendared process that works across the board with every person. People aren’t machines; they are God’s craftsmanship who have walked different paths and have been given different abilities.
Some will grow in faith by leaps and bounds like a Paul. Others will take steps forward and backwards like David. Some people can have a faith that flips and flops between hot and cold like Peter. Was one more faithful than the other? Not at all.
Those were men that God grew at different speeds and used in different ways. God’s timing with each of those men operated outside of any sort of prescriptive timeline. God uses means to sharpen and men to encourage that the world – and even the church – would never choose.
The most faithful thing we can do is to pursue people to disciple and trust God to mold and shape as you walk through life together. It not what one would expect in making leaders – less of a path and more of a process – but it is God’s chosen means.
It is a means that ends at the foot of a Cross. It is a path that Jesus has walked for us to follow but He has given us His church to be our encouragement along the way. All we need to do is walk and watch – He takes care of the rest.