No matter who we are, none of us is indispensable. Yet many leaders have not put much time or thought into considering who else could step into our shoes in the event of sickness, death, or other unforeseen events. Reflect on your own situation. Who could take on your role tomorrow if something happened to you? Who could succeed you?

Who could take on your role tomorrow if something happened to you? Share on X

We often avoid questions like these. It’s disturbing to think of some sudden calamity befalling us. In some cases, we may feel threatened by other strong leaders. We’re afraid they may show us up or people will like them better than us. Other times our identity can become wrapped up in leadership itself and we fear not feeling needed anymore.

How to Succeed in Succession Planning

The key is leadership development. When I was pastoring, my goal was to develop three people who could step into my role if need be. I didn’t necessarily want to choose my own successor. I was aware of too many cases where what’s needed for the next phases of ministry is different than what is needed currently, and it’s impossible to tell the future. But I wanted at least three people who were real possibilities for stepping into my role.

The people who can take over your own role are often quite different than the people who can work well alongside you or serve in an assistant or associate capacity. A loyal number two doesn’t always make an effective number one. Different gifts are required.

Develop a Rhythm of Multiplication

Consider who has similar gifting to yourself and work with them to develop their abilities. Invest in them and support them. It’s biblical. Another title for this blog entry could be, “What’s your level of commitment to 2 Timothy 2:2?  “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

Our job is not just to lead, but to develop multiple other people who can lead. One of them may step into your role. Others may be sent out to serve elsewhere. But leave behind people who can effectively carry on the work of the ministry and take it into whatever future God has in mind for it.

Our job is not just to lead, but to develop multiple other people who can lead. Share on X


Leadership Skills Guides- Leaders often have a measure of natural abilities but everyone has points of strength and areas for development. One or two-trick leadership will only get you so far. To help you develop leaders on a holistic level, I have created teaching points, with scripture passages and reflection, and discussion questions for 37 practical skills that are essential to leadership. Use these guides to coach your leaders in areas of personal development, communication skills, organizational development, and more! Here is a FREE overview.

Leadership Multiplication Pathway- This storyboard lays out a 4-step path for church leadership development. It begins with Missional Discipleship, moves on to helping discover what God has called them to do in Focused Ministry Calling, then discusses Effective Leadership, and ends with Continuous Multiplication.

Podcasts- I’ve been on a couple of podcasts lately discussing a breadth of issues surrounding church planting, Last week, I jumped onto The Church Planter Podcast with Pete Mitchell and Peyton Jones. Pete and Peyton are great guys who have a daily podcast in support of church planters. I was also recently a guest on the Ralph Moore Podcast. Ralph is the Founding Pastor of the Hope Chapel movement, which has birthed hundreds of churches. Click for Part 1 and Part 2.

Photo by Christina Morillo courtesy of Pexels.