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The Natural Flow of Leadership Development

I’m finding more and more pastors who are getting discouraged with the lack of leaders in their leadership pipeline. The problem is serious because if there’s a lack of leaders then the growth of the church will be hindered. Not just numerical growth but spiritual depth as well.

How you as a leader respond to this crisis is crucial.

Some leaders will complain but take no action. There’s a deceptive sense of hope that somehow in time things will magically get better. Or they hope a leadership development program, idea or person will come along and turn everything around. But hope is not a strategy. The end result…nothing changes.

Other leaders acknowledge the problem and assign a task force to figure out how to populate their undersupplied pipeline. This is a positive step but typically the leader removes himself from the process. After a series of meetings the team tells him about their plan, projections and promise of a leadership revolution. He blesses it and tells them to put it into action.  Then six to twelve months later the efforts have faded and they’re none the better for the efforts.

Finally there is a road less traveled…the senior leader integrates himself as part of the solution. This doesn’t mean he is the brainchild of the leadership development strategy. It doesn’t mean he is the point person. Nor does it mean that he turns himself into a leadership development superman cranking out dozens of new leaders.  

But it does mean he understands, believes in and is personally engaged in the leaderships development strategy. The primary leader doesn’t have to create the system, but he must use it. Only then will you begin to see signs of your pipeline being replenished.

Why is this true? There is a guiding principle that every senior leader must pay close attention to if they are serious about building a culture of leadership development.  

Here it is:  Leadership development flows down not up.  

When your senior leadership team gets it then your staff will get it.  When your staff gets it your directors will get it. When your directors get it your volunteer leaders will get it. Leadership development flows down. And when it flows down you will see leaders grow up through your pipeline.

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Mac Lake is the Development Pastor at Seacoast Church, a multi-site church with 13 campuses, where he oversees leadership development, small groups, missions, communications, and internships. He is a popular church leadership conference speaker and the author of the training resource Growing Small Group Leaders. Learn more from Mac at MacLakeOnline.com.