Leadership has a shepherding side to it. The apostle Paul instructed us to “care for the flock that God has entrusted to you” (1 Peter 5:2). In my previous article, I shared the two faces of shepherding: Noticing and Developing.
Noticing focuses on the compassionate side of shepherding, and Developing focuses on the leadership side of shepherding. One emphasizes care and compassion for people, and the other emphasizes the training, equipping and empowering of leaders. Both—noticing and developing—are critical to shepherding the people you lead.
To cultivate a noticing/developing posture as a leader, you need to answer seven shepherding questions. In part one, I shared the first four questions (which emphasize shepherding through noticing):
- Who’s new…that I should meet?
- Who’s missing…that I should call?
- Who’s hurting…that I should encourage?
- Who’s serving…that I should thank?
Each of these shepherding questions says, “I notice you. You matter.” Again, they reveal the compassionate side of leadership. It’s shepherding through noticing. But we must also shepherd through developing. There are three questions that will help you strategically shepherd the people you lead from a developing posture. These are five, six and seven of the seven shepherding questions.
Three Ways to Shepherd Through Developing
5. Who’s Emerging…that I should believe in?
Young leaders want somebody to believe in them. In fact, 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity” (NLT). Yes, young leaders must lead in such a way that there’s no reason for anyone to think less of them. At the same time, we must embrace a developing mindset with the young leaders around us. That mindset begins by asking, “Who’s emerging…that I should believe in?”
Your belief in young leaders is best expressed in three ways: affirmation, coaching and opportunity. When you affirm potential, provide strategic coaching and offer new opportunities, your belief becomes a catalyst for development. Each expression builds a flywheel of belief that builds in momentum over time.
6. Who’s Rising…that I should equip?
People rise one step at a time as leaders. Throughout their growth journey, they will need to be equipped with the right tools, training and mentoring to keep moving forward. This is an essential shepherding role as leaders. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul said:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT).
The sixth shepherding question asks, “Who’s rising…that I should equip?” Equipping isn’t optional as pastors and leaders. It’s a mandate. It’s primary to our calling. We are called to equip God’s people to do his work. What is your equipping strategy?
7. Who’s Faithful…that I should promote?
Faithfulness is more than “showing up.” Faithfulness is the stewardship of resources (abilities, time and money), responsibilities and opportunities. Jesus made this clear in the parable of the talents. He said:
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip… After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more’” (Matthew 25:14-15, 19-20, NLT).
The master gave opportunities to his three servants. Only two rose to the occasion and were deemed as faithful. Faithfulness was proven through opportunity, and well-managed opportunity opened the door for greater responsibility and larger opportunity.
The same is true today. The best way to develop leaders is to test their ability with new opportunities. In fact, your delegation list is your best leadership development tool. Look around and ask yourself the final shepherding question: “Who’s faithful…that I should promote?” Once you identify a faithful volunteer or leader, determine what responsibility and opportunity to hand to them next. What roles do you need to promote your most faithful leaders to? What training will they need to succeed in that role?
Seven shepherding questions every leader should ask. Some will help you notice people and others will help you develop people. Both are essential to caring and growing the people you lead. Which questions do you need to starting asking today?