Growing up, my parents had some high academic standards for me. I remember the one time I got an A on my Calculus exam. It was a feeling of joy mixed with surprise because if you’ve ever done calculus, you know that it’s sometimes hard to tell if you got the question right or wrong—especially with the tricky questions.
Well, I was over the moon and I couldn’t wait to share my joy with my parents. While walking home, I was envisioning the celebration that was going to happen when I entered those doors and announced my triumph. I was victorious and the fattened calf was going to be slaughtered. We were going to party!
“Your favorite son is home! And guess what I got on my calculus exam? A big FAT A!!”
Unfortunately, the fireworks did not go off. My mom came over, took a look at the exam, and with a melancholic voice, said something to the effect of, “Oh son, good job. You should call your dad and tell him the results.”
Well, this wasn’t exactly the response I was hoping for, but maybe the celebration was going to happen when my dad heard about it. So I called him up at work and shared the good news with him. Instead of whipping out the party horn, he responded with, “So, you got 100%?”
I responded, “Well, not quite, I got 91%, but that’s still an A!”
He replied, “So…how many did you get wrong then?”
Okay. Clearly, this wasn’t going the way that I wanted it to. An A is an A. Isn’t it?
Success is an interesting thing. Unless we clearly outline metrics and define what success actually looks like, it’s up to the eye of the beholder.
This is why, for many churches, success is more about programs, than it is about people. Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck wrestle through this tension in their book, Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development,
So the programmatic rat race in most churches continues. Most churches merely exist to keep running their programs and services. They are not developing leaders intentionally and consistently. When leaders emerge from some churches, it is often by accident. “Wow, a leader emerged…How did that happen?” should not be heard among God’s people. Something is missing. Something is off. (13)
As church leaders, we need to make our metrics for success the same as Jesus’. And for Jesus, “the Great Commission is Plan A,” there is no Plan B.
Geiger and Peck argue that “The Church is uniquely set apart to develop and deploy leaders for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel.” They believe this because “leadership, apart from the work of God, cannot produce true flourishing or eternal results.”
So what exactly does a “developed” leader look like? What does success look like in leadership development?
Many of you know me as the church multiplication guy because of all my work in creating and leading NewChurches.com, as well as with co-authoring Planting Missional Churches with Ed Stetzer. However, if you were to look behind the curtain, so to say, my official role is with the Lifeway Leadership team. In other words, I live, breathe, and eat leadership development. Specifically, I love helping churches and pastors develop systems for their ministry: both their discipleship pathway (the topic of my upcoming book with B&H in 2017) and their leadership pipeline.
As a result, I was a part of the team that Geiger and Peck references in chapter 8 where they lay out a leadership development pipeline for the church. Over two years, we brought in 18 different leadership experts, both who are leading in the church and outside of it, from different backgrounds, perspectives, and positions. Over a series of meetings, we wrestled through the idea of leadership development and if there were a core set of competencies that leaders shared, regardless of position.
After all, as outlined in the book, Leadership Code, 60-70% of leadership is transferable from position to position. In other words, up to 70% of what makes a leader effective in one organization, role, or position, is transferable to another organization, role, or position.
In the course of these meetings, we uncovered over 280 competencies that effective leaders shared. While studying and filtering through this data, we uncovered a pattern. There were six broad categories that stood out as common themes!
- Discipleship: Theological and spiritual development
- Vision: Preferred future
- Strategy: Plan or method for the preferred future
- Collaboration: Ability to work with others
- People Development: Contributing to the growth of others
- Stewardship: Overseeing resources within one’s care
These are the six core competencies for any and every leader within the church. Now based on the specific ministry area that a leader is serving in, there are also ministry specific competencies, like rhythm for a musician, or the ability to ask questions for small group leaders. However, regardless of the ministry area that you’re serving in, these six shared core competencies will guide you in your growth and development as a leader.
Daniel Im is the Director of Church Multiplication for New Churches and Lifeway Christian Resources, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply.