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Cultivating Leaders in Ministry: How to Raise Leaders No Matter Who You Are

Our guest today is Ted Smith who is the Regional Director of Ministry for World Impact’s Midwest Region and Dean of the Urban Ministry Institute in Dallas, Texas.

World Impact has spent four decades in the inner cities of America trying to evangelize, equip, and empower people for leadership and for church planting. They work in under-resourced communities across the country. They also utilize The Urban Ministry Institute which is formal training for urban leaders who may not be able to attend a formal Bible college or Seminary.

If you would like to know more about World Impact or TUMI Check out their sight at www.worldimpact.org

Ted welcomes questions and interactions, and you can email him directly: tsmith@worldimpact.org

Show Notes:

A Vision for Cultivating Leaders

Ministry leaders must take very seriously the idea that we are missionaries. Our call is to identify and recruit those whom God has called (in their context) and to equip them and release them, i.e. let them do the ministry.

It’s very important that as we’re training our leaders we work with them and really take the time to reflect and think about our principles, standards, and the ways we can train people up.

How Creating Dependence Damages Communities

Any time we create dependence on ourselves and not God that is theologically corrupt and bankrupt. We see this in churches all the time when the beloved pastor leaves (who’s led the church so faithfully for however many years they’ve been there) and the whole church collapses.

It damages the church when we don’t prepare the local community to exist without us. Furthermore, it’s not just damaging to the local church but also the kingdom of God.

How to Recognize When You’re Creating Dependence

Be self-aware. Our culture pushes us against being self-aware. The reason we don’t do that is because we don’t want to be selfish.

This contrasts with scripture. New Testament writers say think of yourself with sober judgment. We need to spend more time thinking about who we are, who God has made us to be, how we’re wired. And focus and evaluate whether what we’re doing is working. Look at our churches and look at the size of them: healthy churches grow.

The Difficulty of Developing Leaders

Sometimes it’s difficult to let somebody else do something because they’re not going to do it the same way or in as good a way as I can do it. That’s a big obstacle. When we’re training leaders, we must recognize that no one on the planet is exactly wired the way we are. They don’t have our skill set. They don’t have our temperaments. They don’t have our educational background. They may or may not have our maturity level. It’s not a matter of better or worse but different, and they will do things differently.

Time is the #1 Barrier to Cultivating Leaders

Leaders are encouraged to read through the Gospels and reflect on how much time Jesus spends alone with the disciples that he’s training. The reality is that we just don’t value training other people. That’s the truth. We don’t have the courage to think about our own temporary nature. The life expectancy of new pastors these days is 2 maybe 5 years, if they’re great.

Leaders are encouraged to ask this basic question: “What does my ministry look like without me?”

Remember, Jesus could say to a whole community of people who were dripping in need: “Okay, I’ll be back in a couple days. I’m going up on the mount with my boys for a while.”

Leaders Will Become Like You

Leaders will become like who leads them, so hopefully that’s a good thing. They’re going to take your good and your bad, and they’re going to mimic it as they form their own identity. As leaders, we need to be careful to recognize we cannot do everything. And, we should not do everything: 1) For your health, and 2) For the health of your church.

Start With the People Right in Front of You

Leaders often tend to recruit from the outside. The people we could have the most impact with are often the people who are already in our circle of influence. Look for people in your circle of influence who are: teachable, faithful, and committed.

Move Past Selfish Thinking

Remember: leaders you have raised up don’t belong to you. The Lord is going to dispatch people wherever He wants them to go. Be okay with God’s plan, and champion new leaders to go and be what God wants them to go and be.

Use People Who Already Know Your Culture

It’s a better use of our time to invest in potential leaders who are already in our church, people who show signs of faithfulness. Whatever your context is, find those faithful people and train them. Why would you bring in somebody that you don’t know, who doesn’t know your church, for a small short-term internship? They’re going to spend most of their time learning the culture so that they can be effective.

Equipping Leaders to Ensure Longevity

You are equipping new leaders to do what you’re doing, which is to make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples. This is all about discipleship. This is all about multiplication. This is all about reproduction. The leader who lives and serves in isolation does not set his ministry or church up for life beyond him, and it is a death sentence to the ministry, because the guy who does everything will burn out. Burnout is not an if, it’s a when. Burnout is only a matter of time. You have a breaking point, and both the enemy and your body will help you find it.

How To Equip New Leaders

  1. Begin with the end in mind
  2. Identify people who can meet a need or live in the vision: Done without prejudice (don’t just look for people you like, or who like you, or who are easy to work with)
  3. Speak the vision you have into their life
  4. Give them assignments so they can begin to lead
  5. Walk with them through the process
  6. Let them fail, because we learn more by our failures than we do from our successes

You’re Going to Make Mistakes

Trust in the Lord. Does the LORD have this situation, or does He not? If He does, then He’s not dependent on us to make the right decision on this issue. So, we need to give ourselves the freedom to grow in these principles of training up leaders for the glory of God without fear.

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York / CC BY

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