Your congregation is filled with people God wants to use in powerful ways. Sometimes that reality may be hard for you to see from your vantage point, but God brought these particular people to you to nurture and develop holistically for his purpose. 

But here’s the hard part… God’s purpose for them may or may not dovetail with your own goals for the church. What he uses people for may not be to move your vision forward but something entirely different. Yet it’s still something that will benefit the kingdom as a whole. 

How do you view your congregation?

6 ways to develop others

How you view your congregation offers insight into how you will develop people. The Bible clearly refers to Jesus followers as sheep and Jesus as their shepherd. When Jesus speaks of his sheep in scripture it is with a tone of love, understanding, care, sacrifice, and devotion. The result is a deep value for each individual and a desire to see each thrive. In other words, the result is servant leadership, not authoritarian leadership. Too many pastors see the congregation as a means to achieve their own goals, the result is people feel used. Your role as a senior leader is to develop people to step into and accomplish whatever God has called them to do… even if there is no clear connection to your own vision. The benefit is more people living into their gifts and using them to build the kingdom of God.

4 Ways to Develop Others to Live into Their Gifts

1. Invest consistently

Leadership development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It can’t be outsourced to a trainer. It won’t be effective as a one-size-fits-all program. Rather, developing leaders will require you to invest consistently and relationally. Now—to be fair—you can’t do that with an unlimited number of people. If you have other staff members, they can each invest in a selected set of people, just as you invest in a selected set of people. The good news is that if you invest consistently and relationally, those leaders will soon be able to invest in other leaders. That’s where you get momentum. 

2. Listen and ask questions

The great benefit of investing consistently and relationally means that you can have one-on-one conversations tailored to the gifts, desires, and capacities of each new leader. It’s through listening, asking questions, and then listening again that you can become an effective sounding board for people to hear from God about what he is calling them toward. Whatever you do, don’t come in with a preconceived idea of what God will call this person to do. It may not be what you want or need, but it will be what the Kingdom needs. 

3. Assess people’s starting points

When you’re developing new leaders, you need to meet them where they are. Not everyone comes in at the same place. Some will have experience and a clear sense of direction. Others will not. Yet others may need to unlearn some of the experience they have so they can become more effective in ministry. Take the time in conversation to get to know the person. What ministry experience do they have? Where are their gifts? Where are their current skill levels? What do they care about? In some cases, you may need to work first on discipleship issues or issues around character and willingness. But eventually, you will get to the fourth point (below): Engaging in show-how training. 

4. Engage in show-how training

This kind of training is the opposite of classroom training. It’s on-the-job training. But it’s not just throwing someone into the role and seeing whether they sink or swim. You can take a measured, incremental approach and debrief conversationally after each step. This show-how-training system can be applied to any area of ministry. 

  • I do; you watch 
  • I do; you help 
  • You do; I help
  • You do; I watch
  • You do; someone else watches 

That last point is essential for continuing to multiply your leadership development. And really, the more you multiply new leaders, the more likely it is that God will call some of those new leaders to be a part of what he is calling you to do. 


Developing others doesn’t come naturally to everyone and that’s okay! To help, we’ve developing the Leadership Skills Guides. Addressing key areas that every leader needs to be competent in, this set of guides was written so you can come alongside other and help them lean into their giftedness with confidence.

Photo by Mohamad Babayan on Unsplash