One man in his late 20s entered a new church eager for leadership. He was particularly interested in high-profile ministry positions that carried a good deal of responsibility. Instead he was asked to start with more humble ministry assignments, which he refused. Because of a lack of provenness, he was not able to progress further in ministry.

In another case, a 19-year-old just out of high school approached the pastor and asked for a formal mentoring relationship with him. At first the pastor thought, “He’s so young. He couldn’t possibly be the kind of person I should invest in right away.” However, the pastor said, “I’ll tell you what. You go make some disciples and come back to me after that. If you can multiply a group of disciples, then maybe we’ll begin a mentoring relationship.”

After a few months, the 19-year-old came back having multiplied a small accountability group, and the pastor engaged in a mentoring relationship with him. Over the next few months, the accountability groups continued multiplying and he began starting missional communities. He became a leader at that church.

As you raise up and new develop leaders, consider giving them the opportunity to gradually prove themselves in the small things before moving on to the bigger things. In the parable of the talents, Jesus congratulated such a person: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things’” (Matt. 25:23a).

This practice has a dual benefit: it weeds out poor leaders and confirms those you may not initially see as ready.

  • What qualities do you generally look for in potential leadership candidates? How reliable has that been?
  • Think of several positions of leadership within your church. What are some ways you could initially set the bar lower for each of those positions in order to allow people the chance to prove themselves?