So we’ve prayed for leaders, we’ve prepared to receive them, what’ next?
Pursue simply means to go after. There’s nothing passive about the concept. In fact it’s quite active.
A leader will get in mind someone they should ask to join them in ministry for the first time or to move to the next level of leadership. However, instead of pursuing they hesitate and wait. Oftentimes too long, and at great cost.
Innovative leaders by nature aren’t good at sitting still. They want to make a difference and if they can’t find the on ramp into leadership, they’ll just go create their own. Which there’s nothing wrong with that, other than missing the opportunity to have that leader innovating on your team, making it better.
There are other leaders who may not be able to innovate as quickly on their own, so they need your team in order to help them become a growing leader. This type of leader left untapped over a period of time can become comfortable, complacent, and crippled in their leadership. Simply because no one pursued them.
Which greatly costs the individual and costs the team. – Probably one of the biggest ministry fails is around this issue. I confess that there are times I did not steward the leadership resources God had entrusted me with. It hurts to know that I played a role in crippling someone’s leadership. Because I didn’t have the guts to pursue them as a leader.
Some reasons I didn’t pursue a leader when I should have…
· I was afraid of rejection. – Honestly, this is a pride issue, thinking ministry depended upon me and not upon God. When I depend on God I gain the courage and confidence to do all kinds of things that stretch and grow me.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped (Psalm 28:7)
· I felt “they were probably too busy”. – Weather someone is too busy or not isn’t really for me to decide. I learned over time to “never say people’s no for them”. I had people saying no before I ever gave them a chance to say yes…and that’s just dumb.
Now, that being said, I do think leaders do have a responsibility to coach leaders to focus their time serving to no more than one or two areas. And through pastoral care, help them make those though choices to focus their ministry for effectiveness, leadership development, and so they don’t’ crash and burn.
· I glorified myself by proving “I could do it all”. – Well, that’s just a pride thing too that I had to learn to let go of. Thinking I was raising my level of leadership by “doing it all” actually shrunk my leadership.
I was the “lid”, the cap at which the organization I was leading could grow. Which is particularly sad to me, because lack of growth in my ministry meant lack of growth in the church, which meant less people were coming to know and follow Jesus because of my pride. OUCH! John Maxwell gives a talk on “The Law of the Lid”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCjr62gCAtc
· I’m an introvert and beginning conversations with people I don’t know wasn’t natural to me. But, I began to push through that, I learned, I grew, to the point where now initial meetings are one of my most favorite things to do. I found a great resource from Amplified Leadership by Dan Reiland and great strength from this passage:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Now that's not to say that being an introvert is a weakness per say. But I had to learn to just be myself and get real comfortable with just being me in front of others. Withholding authenticity was leading to others not fully trusting me. I spent a year working specifically on just "showing my heart" with others. It was a lot of work, that has continually paid huge dividends in pursuing leaders.
So there’s the stuff NOT to do.
But what DO we do to purse those God leads us to?
1. Have an “I See In You” conversation. These conversations often have a “prophetic” word from God in them. Where you begin to honestly speak to the potential leader about the fruit you see coming from their lives. Here are a few examples of “I See In You” conversations I’ve actually had with people:
“I see in you this great joy that makes everyone in the room feel welcome”
“I see in you the ability to relate to and mentor students”
“I see in you the desire listen and give great advice to people”
“I see in you the ability to teach”
“I see in you how you take great attention to excellence and detail”
2. Invite them to meet with you. After you’ve expressed what you are seeing in their lives, invite them to meet with you about that. An example might be:
“I’d love to talk with you more about that and hear your heart”
3. Meet with them. This meeting generally has four major parts.
1. Connecting With Them – How did they come to the church? How did they begin following Jesus? What are the passions God’s been speaking to them about. This requires listening and discernment. You may have an end goal of asking them to take on a leadership role, but you want to make sure it fits with what God’s been telling them. So take the time to listen and be careful not to push your agenda...remember they are a person.
2. Share Your Heart – Let them see my heart for ministry, what is it that God has laid upon my heart for the ministry I'm leading? Children coming to know Jesus? People taking next steps towards Jesus? A place where people can belong and become? A community transformed for Christ? How did I get to where I’m at now?
3. Make a SOFT Ask – Weather you like it or not, pursuing leaders is a “sales call” you are helping people decide how to spend their most precious commodity - THEIR TIME! Believe it or not, there’s a respectful and honoring way to handle this pursuit.
After listening to their story. After sharing what it is that you hope to accomplish through the ministry you lead. If you discern it’s a match, make a soft ask.
This means you pull out the job description paper for the role you’d like them to consider. Say, I’d really like you to spend some time thinking, praying, and talking with your family about this role. I wonder if it might be a good fit for you and the team we are building here. One of these responses is to be expected:
· They could say yes on the spot: If so, make sure they talk with their family about the commitment before you accept their yes and say: Great lets get together next week to discuss more details. At which point you can discuss all of the policy, procedures, and details you already prepared.
· They could be very interested: If so, ask them to think about it for a week and that you’ll follow up with them in a week. They shouldn’t feel pressured there on the spot, they may need to think about what they’ll have to say no to in order to say yes to this, there may be some logistical things to work out, and prayer is always recommended.
· They could be a little hesitant: If so, ask them where the hesitation comes from. Maybe they are overcommitted. Maybe there’s a stress at home. Maybe they just don’t see in themselves what you are seeing. Either way, there is care and coaching you can provide that person. Not as a prospective team member, but as a human being. Ministry is people.
· They could be totally uninterested and flat out say no: If so, encourage them in what they are doing. Thank them for their time. Pray for them as a person. Then, ask them to pray with you on the role you are hoping to fill someday. Ask them to let you know if they know anyone who they think would be great for the role.
4. Always Follow Up. Remember after an initial meeting there’s always follow up to be had, schedule the follow up call into your planner, send a note of encouragement, still talk to them as a person if they say no. Remember people are not the agenda to accomplish the ministry, people ARE the ministry.
Overall I have found this way of pursuing leaders to be encouraging, honoring, respectful, and flat out fun. Need leaders…pray, prepare, pursue.