7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 7

Component #7 – Use conference experiences to inspire and instruct your leaders

I confess I am a conference junkie.  Catalyst, Leadership Summit, ARC All Access, LeadNow… give me more conferences.  But why do I enjoy them so much?  It’s not the content…I can get that from a book, podcast or CD.  Conferences are beneficial for a variety of reasons but for me one stands out – there’s a unique energy when you’re in a room with a crowd all learning the same thing.  It’s inspiring and energizing.  And that environment somehow creates a greater receptivity to new ideas, insights and learning. 

It seems that Jesus understood the power of conference experiences as well.  Multiple times in the Gospels we see Him surrounded by thousands of people who had traveled long distances to hear him teach.  Check out Marks report of what took place on one of these occasions. 

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”  Mark 8:1-3

The energy in those crowds must have been electric because on two different occasions the people stayed to listen despite the fact they had run out of food.  Jesus had to miraculously provide meals for the thousands who wanted to stay in that environment. 

Several years ago at Seacoast we recognized the value of creating conference experiences for our leaders, so two times a year we gather our leaders for an in house leadership rally.  It’s a high energy evening where we cast vision, celebrate what God is doing and provide inspirational teaching on a leadership subject.  Here are a few of the benefits we have discovered.

  • It inspires our leaders
  • It gives us the opportunity to cast a unified vision to the entire leadership core
  • It gives us the chance to celebrate what’s going well
  • It allows everyone to see they are a part of something bigger
  • It opens their minds to new ideas and fresh insights
  • It networks them with other leaders who are doing what they are doing
  • It is a great time to appreciate our leaders

It is a small investment with a big payoff.  Do you do in-house conferences for your leaders?  If so, what benefits have you discovered?

7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 6

Component #6 Create opportunities for cluster learning.

A great method for training that’s frequently overlooked is peer to peer learning.  This technique creates discussion among people who are at similar levels of experience allowing them to learn from each other.  Peer to peer learning has been shown to be one of the most effective means of sustained learning at any age level and especially in adults.

In Mark 10 Jesus and his disciples were making their way to Jerusalem when James and John asked if they could sit at Jesus left and right when he came into his kingdom.  When the others heard about this they flipped out.  So Jesus responded by pulling the whole group together, addressed the issue and used it to teach them about servant leadership.  I’m sure in that little circle of 12 emotions were running high, discussion was heated and egos were on edge.  But I guarantee you learning took place.

There is a heightened receptivity to learning when people are facing problems.  So why not huddle your leaders together and generate some discussion by allowing them to talk about leadership problems they are facing?  I am not saying get them together to let them air out their problems with each other.  I am saying get them together to discuss challenges each of them are facing as leaders.  Let them share what they are experiencing, discovering and learning. 

Every month at Seacoast I gather our Small Group directors from our 13 campuses for a Directors Huddle.  During this time we celebrate what God is doing and communicate essential information.  But we use the majority of this time focusing on a single leadership issue that I feel each of them may be wrestling with.  Each month I tell them, “What I am doing with you, I want you to do with your coaches and I want your coaches to do the same with their small group leaders.”  While the frequency and content may be different at each level we encourage each leader to use the same five part agenda in their huddles. (I will be posting more on this agenda in a couple of weeks). 

Why is this approach so effective?  Because people love to share what they’re learning from their own leadership journeys.  I like it because it’s raw, it’s real, it’s relational and it’s extremely relevant.

Does your church or organization use regular huddles for cluster learning?

7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 5

Component #5 – Give challenging assignments that will stretch the potential leaders capacity.

I was talking with a father who told me he taught his five year old to swim by throwing him into a pool.  I responded, “You’ve got to be joking?”  He wasn’t! He told me, “It was sink or swim and the boy learned to swim really quickly.” 

Although it’s very common, I don’t advocate the “sink or swim” method of training leaders.  How often have you heard about someone being thrown into a volunteer position with no training?  To be honest many people have been trained this way, but many more have “drown” because of this method.

Jesus was very careful and strategic about giving his disciples hands on assignments.  At just the right times he would give developmentally appropriate challenges that would stretch their capacity.  After doing several tours of duty with Jesus he gave seventy of his disciples an assignment to go out in pairs and spread the gospel.  In Luke 10 he told them where to go, what to do, what to say and how to handle certain situations.  Afterwards he was there to debrief the entire experience with them.

An effective leadership development strategy provides challenging assignments that will stretch the potential leader’s capacity.  However, we must follow the right process for this to be most effective.  It requires…

  • Modeling – Let them watch someone else
  • Instruction – Tell them how
  • Assignments – Give them the opportunity to try
  • Debrief – Talk to them about what they did well and what they could do better next time.

Think about the ministry areas where you need to grow leaders.  Plan the sequential assignments a trainee needs to experience in order to be fully equipped.  Next match them with a mentor who could model and teach them the necessary skills.  Then have that mentor observe the developing leader in action and give them feedback.  This process, matched with appropriate assignments will give your leaders the experience and confidence they need to lead well. 

At this point you may be thinking, “Boy, that sounds like a lot of work.”  I have never said that leadership development was easy…leadership development is a discipline that takes work. 

Are your developing leaders in a “sink or swim” situation or are you giving them intentional assignments that are stretching their leadership capacity?


I attended the ARC All Access Conference in Clayton, NC over the past couple of days.  I wasn’t able to stay for the whole conference but was able to sit through sessions with Billy Hornsby, Matt Fry, Dino Rizzo, Greg Surratt and Chris Hodges.  One common theme emerged in each of their talks…the importance of the leader’s heart.    I walked away with a few questions to meditate on over the next few days

In what way is my church/ministry reflecting what is going on in my heart?

If my physical heart is not healthy it impacts my whole body. In the same way if my spiritual heart is not healthy it will impact the health of my church or ministry.  If my heart is filled with a competitive, negative, critical, jealous, hectic spirit then in time that will be reflected in the ministry I lead.

Do I have to manufacture love and compassion?

There have been way too many times I have found myself hiding from people, avoiding people, making excuses not to serve people because I had nothing to give.    Love and compassion should flow naturally out of the overflow of my time with God.  An empty heart has to manufacture love and compassion.

Am I missing the power of God today because I am stuck in yesterday?

Too often we depend on yesterday’s methods, successes, systems, programs. God wants us to rely on his power not just what we did yesterday.  God loves pouring out fresh new ideas into open hearts.

Am I doing what it takes to finish well?

Ministry is a marathon not a sprint.  Finishing well will require that I have a heart of humility and courage that is fully surrendered to God.

Am I maximizing my moments or am I missing them?

It is so easy for us to become preoccupied with future plans, projects, opportunities and successes that we miss out on the very moment we are in.   The greatest moment of my life is the one I am living in right now.

What does your heart need to be reflecting on right now in order for you to be all God wants you to be?

7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 4

Component #4 – Experienced leaders coach-mentor developing leaders

Jesus was a masterful mentor.  Think about Mark 14, that passage where Peter got a “sinking feeling” that he had just made a huge mistake.  Notice how Jesus coached him in this situation.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, begining to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”  And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”

My favorite part of the story is when Jesus walks over to Peter who is halfway submerged under the water, reaches out, takes him by the hand, asks a question basically saying, “Peter, let’s talk.”  Jesus was capitalizing on a teachable moment.  Instead of just rescuing Peter and putting him back in the boat, he holds his hand, keeps him afloat and discusses what went wrong.  Jesus looked at him and said, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  I can imagine Peter’s reaction.  Here he is neck deep in water probably thinking, “Jesus, can we talk about this after we get back in the boat?”  But Jesus wanted to talk about it right then in the heat of the moment.  The question Jesus asked was very insightful, “You of little faith why did you doubt?”  The Greek word for “little” does not mean little in size, but little in duration.  In other words, Jesus was saying, “Peter, your faith was big enough to step out of the boat, but it wasn’t the kind of faith that could endure the entire risk experience.”  What better time to learn that lesson than while literally neck deep in trouble.  I think Jesus had his undivided attention!  Jesus was teaching him in teh heat of the moment so he would never forget the lesson.

My greatest leadership learnings have taken place when I’ve had an experienced mentor by my side helping me debrief my experiences.  Every developing leader needs a coach who will discuss, question, debrief, encourage and challenge them at the appropriate times.

Imagine what could happen if you could build a team of mentors who were willing to pour into the developing leaders at your church.

Who can you train to be a trainer?

7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 3

#3 – Provide potential leaders resources to grow during their discretionary time.

I was having lunch with an author who is well known for his writings on the topic of leadership.  We were talking about leadership development when he said, “Mac, as I am sitting here with you I am developing leaders.”  I responded, “Okay, you have my attention, help me understand how to do that.”  He said, “Right now people all over the country are reading my books, so even though I am not with them at this moment, I am training them.”

To increase our leadership development impact we must provide potential leaders resources that stimulate their learning even when they are away from the “teacher”.  Too often our concept of training is limited to “classroom time” or time when the learner is with a mentor.  But I have learned I can expand my influence on a learner by 4-6 hours a week when I give them a reading assignment from a book or other resource

Jesus couldn’t give his disciples a book or a CD, so he would teach them using parables. These short memorable stories would be filled with tension or paradox and would cause them to go away and think about what he was teaching.  In fact, Mark 4:33 says, “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.  He did not say anything to them without using a parable.  But when he was alone with his disciples, he would explain everything.”  Jesus intent was to get his followers to think for themselves and wrestle with the principles he was teaching.  Then later he would discuss and explain it to them.

A big part of our leadership development process at Seacoast is providing online content that our potential leaders can access at any time.  Each training session consists of a short video teaching, Scripture reading with reflection questions, a case study and an article.  Learners can study this content at their own convenience and then meet with their mentor to discuss what they learned. 

You don’t have to have an online delivery system to train leaders, just choose a few books or resources you want your potential leaders to work through.  The key is putting resources in their hands so they can continue to learn even when they are not with you. 

What books and resources do you commonly give the potential leaders you are mentoring?

Little Sacrifice – BIG Impact

I’m breaking away from the 7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy for the day to let you know about an exciting movement that starts in seven days www.5daysinmay.com

A little over two years ago I was invited to have lunch with George Green, founder of Water Missions International.  I was deeply moved by George’s passion to provide safe drinking water for the under resourced in our world.  During that meeting I learned…

  • One in six people don’t have access to clean drinking water (Over 1 billion people)
  • Everyday over 25,000 people die from a lack of safe water and sanitation
  • Every 15 seconds a child dies from water related illness

Since that time Cindy and I have been on three international trips with George and his wife Molly.  We have witnessed the impact of this ministry first hand.  I love Water Missions Strategy.  They partner with the indigenous church to provide clean water for their community – thus allowing that local church to show the compassion of Christ to their friends and neighbors.  

The need is huge.  The opportunity is great.  By making a little sacrifice for 5 days in May together we can make a BIG impact for those who need safe water as well as the Living water of Jesus Christ.

Here’s how you can get involved…

  • Go to www.5daysinmay.com to learn more
  • Commit to a 5 day “beverage fast” May 1-5 by drinking only water
  • Save the money you would be spending on soda, milk, specialty drinks and juices.  (My friend Shawn Wood who started this movement says, “On average 30 cans of soda equal $15.00, 3 trips to a commercial coffee shop equal $10, and five fountain drinks equal $8.75, totalling $43.75 spent on beverages by the average American in one week.  According to Water Missions International that same dollar amount of $43.75 could give 5 people clean drinking water for the rest of their lives.”
  • Join the discussion on Facebook (http://ow.ly/3vyD) during those 5 days.  Also follow on Twitter @5daysinmay.
  • Donate what you saved to Water Missions International and together we can make a big impact for the kingdom.

Join us as we drink water to give water.

7 Components of Jesus Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 2

Component #2 Display a high confidence in people

I love the oral Hershiser story.  The legendary pitcher for the LA Dodgers says he got a rough start to his career.  In his rookie season his easy going nature and geeky looks earned him the nickname Howdy Dooty Hershiser.  Dodgers manager, Tommy Lasorda, seeing Hershiser’s lack of confidence and poor performance called him into his office and said, “Hershiser you have incredible talent and could have an amazing future with this team, but you have to start believing in yourself.   So I’m changing your name.  From now on you will be known as Bulldog Hershiser.”  Hershiser says that day changed the trajectory of his career because Lasorda helped him see what he could be.

Jesus did the same thing with his disciples.  In Matthew 4:19 he said to Peter and Andrew, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  Jesus took hold of these two ordinary men and did extra-ordinary things through them because he had a high confidence in people. 

I believe we have potential leaders in our churches that go unutilized because we look at their low spiritual maturity level, lack of knowledge or lack of experience and deem them unready for leadership.  Of course their not ready for leadership…they have not been developed yet.  But I tell you I thank God for the leaders in my home church that took hold of me at age 13 and put me in leadership roles despite my immaturity.  I thank God for those leaders who took a risk and hired me for my first ministry position despite my inexperience.  I thank God for those leaders all throughout my career who took a chance on me despite my lack of readiness for the new role.  That said something to me…it spoke to my potential..it created a desire within me to live up to what they saw in me.

If we are serious about developing a thick leadership culture in our church then we must be quick to spot potential and quick to take risks on people.  One of the things I love about Seacoast Church is the high confidence in people.  We hire primarily from within, so our Campus Pastors are men who came up through the church.  There’s a former dentist, electrician, school teacher and even a former farmer.  These are men who love God and love people.  These are men who found an environment where someone believed in their ability to be used by God in mighty ways. 

Take some time today to look at the talent pool in your church.  Is there anyone you may be overlooking as a potential leader?

7 Components of a Leadership Development Strategy, Pt 1

Component #1 – Connect relationally with those you are developing

After being together for nearly three years Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “I no longer call you servants because a servant doesn’t know his masters business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from the Father I have made known to you.”  Jesus built a long term friendship with the men he was training. 

As leaders we are typically impatient and one of the greatest enemies of quality leadership development is impatience.  We want leaders NOW and we want to train them FAST.  But potential leaders need someone who is committed to taking the time to walk with them, to get to know their strengths and weaknesses.  They need someone who will observe them and give them encouragment as well as constructive feedback.  Our development efforts will be much more effective if we can build a culture where current leaders make patient investments in potential leaders.

I learned the value of relational development when I interviewed at Pawleys Island Baptist Church for my first ministry position.  After spending 45 minutes asking me a series of questions Bob Barrows, the senior pastor, paused and said, “Do you play racquetball?”  I thought that was a strange interview question, but told him I did play.  So he invited me to join him the following Tuesday at the local gym.  We had some great conversation that day and when we finished he said, “What are you doing next Tuesday?”  I told him I since I didn’t have a job yet my schedule was pretty flexible. So he said, “Why don’t you come up and let’s play some more racquetball.”  So the next Tuesday we played several rounds, had some great conversation and went for lunch.  Before I left he said, “What are you doing on Thursday?”  I said, “Well I imagine I am playing racquetball with you!”  We played racquetball three times before he offered me a job.  He spent so much time on the front end connecting with me personally that it made me eager to learn everything I could from this seasoned leader.  From the beginning I knew he cared for me as a person.

To have the greatest impact leadership development must be relational.  This is why we use a mentor based leadership development strategy, asking our current leaders to invest in the lives of potential leaders.  It may take more time but it pays off in the long run.

Who is the potential leader you’re developing?  Do you need to increase your relational investment?

Finding a Winning System

When Steve Young was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame, a television commentator asked him about his first four years on the San Francisco 49’ers as backup to Joe Montana.  “Steve was it tough for you to stay in San Francisco when you could have been a starter on any other team in the league?”  Young replied that he thought about leaving plenty of times but one thing kept him anchored to this team – Coach Bill Walsh had a winning system that Young believed in.

When Walsh arrived in San Francisco in 1979, the 49’ers finished the previous year with a 2-14 record.  But during his time as coach he led them to three Super Bowl victories.  Walsh built the foundation that allowed the 49’ers to play 16 straight seasons with at least 10 wins per season.  He brought the team a new method of training, a new way of practicing, a winning attitude, and revolutionized the game with his pass-powered “West Coast offense.”

What if the church could build a winning system for training leaders?  What if our people wanted to grow as leaders and really believed in the system.  What if we had a way to shape peoples leadership spirit and develop their leadership skills?  What a difference that would make.  

People will sacrifice their time and energy to be a part of a leadership development system that works.  Most want to grow.  They want to discover their strengths and realize their potential.  They want to serve and lead in meaningful ways. 

When I first started thinking about defining a leadership development strategy I knew I needed a model.  I asked myself, what are the best practices of those who are really doing it?  My thoughts went immediately to people like  Jack Welch and John Maxwell.  Then it hit me, the best person to learn leadership development from was Jesus himself.  The leaders he developed literally changed the world.  As I studied through the gospels I discovered seven components of Jesus leadership strategy.  These seven components have become the foundation to our leadership development process at Seacoast.  I will be sharing these over the next few posts.

What leadership development models have you found helpful?  As you think about how Jesus developed leaders what elements of his strategy stand out to you?