Everywhere I go in my travels, I hear one thing over and over. We just don’t have enough leaders. I tell current leaders to look around them. You won’t find perfect leaders who have everything figured out and have all the character, Christlikeness, competence and chemistry with people that you would like to see, but you certainly can find people who could step into leadership and learn and grow as they lead. Then the question that usually follows is: “What exactly am I looking for in a potential leader?” That is a great question. Here are a few ideas:
You are looking for:
- Influence -Leaders are people who are going somewhere and have the ability to influence others to join them on the journey. “Rallying others to a better future,” is the way Marcus Buckingham expresses it. Look for the person who is already influencing others to believe and act differently.
- Self-Discipline - Here we are talking about a person who can stay mentally and emotionally focused when they are tempted to quit; a person who can stick with the most important things and say no to what hurts and hinders forward progress; a person who relentlessly pursues what needs to get done even when there are setbacks; a person who is not deterred and distracted by things of lesser importance; a person who exhibits self-discipline in his/her personal life that is referenced in I Timothy 3:2, I Timothy 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
- A Track Record - Is the potential candidate demonstrating faithfulness and dependability in what they are currently doing? The best predictor of future performance is current performance. Luke 16:10 tells us that the person who is faithful in small things will also be faithful in larger things and unfaithfulness in small things will result in unfaithfulness in larger things.
- Good people Skills - Does this person get along with others? Do people enjoy being around him/her? Do they like him/her or just tolerate them? Leaders not only need to be capable but collaborative. The higher in leadership you go, the stronger your people skills need to be.
- The ability To Solve Problems - Anybody can spot problems and tell you what’s wrong, but a leader needs to be proactive in coming up with solutions to existing problems--not just pointing them out. Whiners complain about what’s not right, but winners attack problems and think their way through to creative solutions, recruiting others to help them do so.
- A Person Who Doesn’t Accept The Status Quo - Someone has humorously said that status quo is Latin for the mess we’re in. That’s not true, but there is no doubt that many churches and organizations are in a mess and this is the status quo that too many are willing to accept and live with. A true leader is not satisfied to look the other way, but is proactive in addressing the status quo. A leader is not satisfied with what is, because he has a picture in his head and heart of what could be and is relentless pursuing that picture.
- The ability To Handle Stress - You want a person who is not always stressed out over one thing or the other…who can stay calm and focused when things are not going as anticipated or planned…who is not always living on the edge and with an edge, but has the capacity to deal with issues without going into an emotional meltdown
- A person who displays A Positive Spirit - This is a matter of having a “can do” rather than a “can’t do” attitude. Don’t you just love people who see a green next to every sand-trap instead of a sand- trap next to every green…people who see the glass half-full rather than half-empty? Paul strongly encourages us in Philippians 4:8 to focus on the positive.
So, pray for and look for people who are exhibiting some of the above-mentioned qualities however embryonic or in whatever stage of infancy they may be and invite them to begin leading in some way. If you wait until the perfect person shows up before you share leadership, you may well be leading by yourself and eventually burn yourself out.
Jesus spent all night in prayer before selecting the twelve. As the record clearly shows, they were far from perfect but they learned how to lead by leading and carying out responsibilities Jesus gave them.