Sometimes there’s a disconnect in ministry between what we say and what we do. For instance, I have always said compassion ministry is important– but the question is what am I personally doing to engage in it? So I began praying to ask the Lord for some guidance. The turning point for me came when an opportunity surfaced to lead an anger management class at the Salvation Army. I engaged in that, and it led to several other avenues of involvement as well. The greatest impact of those involvements was the character changes in myself. It’s not that I was so spectacularly great at serving in that role, but more that it helped me immensely and helped shape my character. As leaders, we can be tempted to talk beyond our experience, saying things that may be true but that we haven’t personally engaged.
Most leadership issues are actually discipleship issues. We need to be more genuine in recognizing the gaps between what we say and what we do.
What can that look like in real life? It looks like…
- The leader who won’t admit it when he doesn’t know the answer
- The team member who always shows up late
- The supervisor who is micromanaging others
- The admin who is subtly correcting everyone
I’m sure you could come up with a dozen more examples. Each of those instances, while certainly having bearing on a person’s leadership capacity, is primarily a character issue. It’s an issue of discipleship.
That’s why we need to take discipleship seriously if we want to do all we can to address leadership shortcomings. First, we need to develop leaders only from among those who are already disciples. That doesn’t mean people who are perfect, but it does mean people whose hearts are open to change and repentance and are actively focused on character growth.
Second, it means continuing discipleship practices and guidance among leaders. That means discipleship doesn’t end when a person becomes a leader. In fact, it takes on even more importance because the stakes are higher. Consider your leaders. Who are their coaches or mentors? What peers can they share freely with? Who is holding them accountable? How are they setting aside time for reflection and listening to God? What discipleship practices are they currently engaging in?
Make sure you create an environment in your organization where discipleship is a priority. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever run into leadership problems—you will. But you’ll have a much better basis for addressing and resolving them.