I have read a lot of leadership books recently. Many of them stress the importance of identifying and training new leaders. While we have discussed the importance of training new leaders through mentoring, we have not discussed the importance of identifying leaders.
In his book, The Making of a Leader, Dr. J. Robert Clinton believes the selection of leaders is an importance challenge. He states:
A major function of all leadership is that of selection of rising leadership. Leaders must continually be aware of God’s processing of younger leaders and work with that process.
What makes the challenge of identifying and selecting rising leaders so difficult?
Michael Hyatt believes that part of the problem exists because few take the time to identify what they are looking for in an ideal candidate or potential leader. He presents the high standards of H3S: Humble, Honest, Hungry, and Smart.
We recently discussed this topic with our Women’s Mentoring Ministry Leadership Team, and after a year of training and observation, have decided that these are the traits we most value in identifying a rising ministry leader:
- Servant’s Heart
- Gentle and Teachable Spirit
- Spiritual and Emotional Maturity
- Ability to Follow and Submit to Spiritual Authority
Personal experiences have revealed the importance of prayer to this critical selection process. We believe that God has already identified the leaders that he wants to use, so all we need to do is agree with him. Luke 6:12-13 reveals that Jesus spent the night praying prior to selecting his disciples. Begin the leadership search on your knees before pursuing resumes and referrals if they are required.
Throughout the Bible we see many examples of young leaders being identified by God, revealed to the older leader, and then trained by the more mature leader. Consider: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Eli and Samuel, Paul and Timothy or Titus, just to name a few. Yet sometimes we resist identifying new leaders, and never consider that resistance as a rejection of God.
As a young leader, on occasion, I have been on the receiving end of resistance. Therefore, I can think of two reasons why people resist identifying new leaders:
1. Jealousy/Pride/Fear – Call it what you want, but the sin is the same. We fear identifying new leaders because we feel that someone else will be better and try to take our place. Some never want to move on from their position of leadership, others want to move on only on their own terms, but nobody wants to be pushed out the door (which is how they see it when a new person enters the equation). They see new blood as a threat and rarely as a benefit.
2. Judgment – We get an idea in our mind of what a leader should be (someone who is exactly like us, of course), so when people don’t measure up or fit the mold, we automatically disqualify them.
What are some other observations? How can we best identify future leaders? What’s working in your areas of leading?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011