Published: 3 years ago

Developing Leaders or Growing Disciples?

It’s hard to throw a rock into the interwebs these days without hitting a Christian who is talking about the latest book they’re reading on leadership. (Plus, I wouldn’t recommend throwing a rock into the interwebs, because your laptop screen wouldn’t fare well.)

Christian leaders love them some leadership books. From Gladwell to Godin and Blanchard to Buckingham, we dig getting to the next levels in our skill sets. I’m not immune to this, by the way: I’ve read more than my fair share over the years, and my suggested reading list contains quite a few titles.

I thought a few recent posts by Eric Geiger were interesting. He wrote on positions both for and against pastors reading leadership books, and later wrote that leadership and discipleship are two sides of the same coin. One notable quote:

To view discipleship as distinct from leadership development is to propose that discipleship does not impact all of one’s life. If a church approaches leadership development as distinct from discipleship, the church unintentionally communicates a false dichotomy—that one’s leadership can be divorced from one’s faith. Being a Christian leader must not be positioned as disconnected from living a godly life in Christ Jesus.

Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate several groups for leaders inside and outside of our church. Whether it’s developing leaders for our First Impressions teams, our Starting Point ministry, or gathering leaders for the Connections Confab, leadership development seems to have become a part of my regular routine.

And yes, when we gather, we frequently do so around secular leadership books. Later this week I’ll be leading the Confab through three of my favorites I’ve read over the last few years. I believe that leaders in the church can learn much from leaders in the world.

But it can’t stop there.

While many leadership principles are transferable from the secular to the sacred, we have to recognize that “becoming a better leader” isn’t all there is. Before we’re better leaders, we have to be better followers. Before we can lead other people, we have to be people who are led.

So as we lead leaders, we must do so against the backdrop of the gospel. As we develop those around us, we must encourage them to look past their skills and to their sanctification. No leadership principles will ever exceed the example we were given by Jesus: that although he existed in the form of God, he chose to take up the towel and become a servant to all.

What’s your take on this? How do you develop those around you? Comment below.


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