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4 solutions to common leadership development challenges

| by Ryan Sanders

We asked Christian leaders to describe the top leadership skill they’d like to personally develop over the next 12 months. Know what they said? By far, the number one challenge Christian leaders face, according to them, was leadership development and discipleship. So, knowing this is the top challenge, let’s tackle it. Here are four ways to help you overcome this challenge. 

1. Know what scripture says about leadership development and discipleship

The following concepts serve as a foundation for seeing leadership development from God’s point of view. 

Concept #1: Building people up individually leads to their unity as a team. 

As people increasingly feel confident in their abilities and supported by their boss, they are motivated to contribute meaningfully to the team’s efforts. With such team spirit and individual growth, the natural result is a healthier organization. 

“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.” —Acts 4:32

Concept #2: Don’t be afraid to let your leaders suffer a little. 

Tested, battle-weary leaders are the ones people follow. Like Joseph’s life of great adversity followed by the great responsibility given to him, God often leads us through a dark valley before we’re ready to climb to a new summit. 

“They must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons.” —1 Timothy 3:10


We have more of what Scripture has to say about leadership development and discipleship in the free eBook > The Top Five Challenges Christian Leaders Face.

2. Know you are not alone with the challenge of leadership development and discipleship

When it comes to this challenge. It’s vital to know you are not alone. Leadership can feel lonely enough already. We don’t need to walk around thinking we are the only ones with the challenge of leadership development and discipleship. Take comfort in the words of some of the Christian leaders who follow us. They remarked about the Bible and its role in their leadership here:

God’s Word is the primary tool God has chosen to reveal Himself, as well as how we should relate with Him and each other. So, for me, it gives light and insight into who I need to be in Him and how I can/should lead others to walk that path of growing in Him on a consistent basis. I’ve served at varying levels of leadership in Christian ministry for nearly 40 years, as well as a leader in my local church. I don’t think we’ve ever been in a place where we’ve needed mature, wise Christian leaders – who understand the times and the culture – more than we do today. —Mike

My life has completely been changed by the transforming power of the Word of God. The Bible has shaped and continues to shape my leadership as I endeavor to achieve the well-laid principles and attributes. I check my life against what the Bible indicates. —Ezekiel


3. Know the tips for overcoming the challenge of leadership development and discipleship

We dive into several tips for developing and discipling leaders in the full eBook. Here are just a few to get you started:

Discipling leaders takes confident humility. 

In How to lead with confident humility, Bob Russell writes: “The closer you are to Christ, the more aware you are of your own sinfulness and inadequacy.” That’s why the apostle Paul wrote, “I am the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Spiritual leaders are most effective when they feel comfortable in their own skin and yet lead with a servant’s heart.

Discipling leaders takes time. 

In his post Why it takes 5 to 7 years to become the pastor of a church, Thom Rainer says it takes a long time to break into established relationship patterns. Most relationships do not get fully established until they go through one or two major conflicts. Trust is cumulative, not immediate. 

Discipling leaders takes focus. 

If you’re like most leaders, you get more requests to do things than you can possibly honor. If you tried to do them all, you would be constantly hopping from one item to the next—all on other people’s agendas—constantly pushing your own life to the back burner, hoping for time to catch up. 

Gerry Lewis, in How to focus and simplify your workload, reveals an effective way of responding to requests. Over time, practicing these five things will help you focus. 

Do it. If the request is something you can do right now and in two minutes or less, then do it and get it done. 

Defer it.If you are the right one to do it, but you can’t do it right now, then schedule the action. Put a deadline on your calendar and schedule the time necessary to work on it. Only things that get scheduled get done. 

Delegate it.The fact that you could do it doesn’t mean that you are the one that should do it. If there is someone else who could or should do it, then delegate without guilt. 

Delete it. Some requests do not require action or response. You are not obligated to return calls or emails to people you don’t know.

Designate it. Some things don’t require an immediate response and don’t have a fixed date, but there is information that would be handy for future use. Create a filing system, either electronically for those requests that come via computer, or a notepad and file folder for those requests that come in other ways.. 

We dive deeper into helpful tips for overcoming the challenge of leadership development and discipleship in the free eBook > The Top Five Challenges Christian Leaders Face.

4. Know where you can find additional resources for leadership development and discipleship

Lastly, I’d regret it if I didn’t send you for more resources on this challenge—especially since we have so many leaders who have addressed this challenge specifically. To name a few:

How to lead with confident humility 

3 things you’re probably doing wrong with your evening

5 reasons for making disciples

5 habits worth cultivating

4 most common reasons that get pastors fired

Remember, from all of the Christian leaders we surveyed, from leaders at churches, to organizations and various businesses, the top challenge was leadership development and discipleship. Once you know what Scripture has to say, you understand that you are not alone, you have tips to combat the challenge and you have additional resources to help when you need them, you can overcome this challenge. You can and you will.

If you want to dig deeper on this and the other top challenges, download the free eBook > The Top Five Challenges Christian Leaders Face.

Photo source: istock 

Ryan Sanders

Ryan Sanders is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. Ryan is married to Tonia and they have two daughters and one son. He lives in Reston, Virginia, serves at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan. 

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