One final post flowing from the 2011 Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.
In the final session of the conference, Andy Stanley challenged us with the question: “What is your strategy for developing leaders?” Most of us in leadership can talk a pretty good game on the importance of developing leaders. But the real question is: Do you have a strategy or plan for it? And are you working that strategy? For many, developing leaders is more talk than action. Stanley called those in attendance to “Intentional Apprenticing” – selecting, modeling, and coaching for the purpose of replacing yourself.
What Stanley described is just following the example of Jesus as he poured his life into the lives of his twelve apostles. Jesus began his public ministry with succession in mind. He didn’t ask for volunteers, but handpicked those with whom he would entrust his mission. He did ministry with them and sent them out to do ministry without him – but brought them back for a time of de-briefing and training. He was constantly preparing them to carry on his mission once he was gone from them physically. I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t point you to Robert Coleman’s classic book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, for a great study on Jesus’ strategy of preparing leaders.
As leaders, that is part of our call. But we are often held back by some common concerns. We are afraid that if we give special attention to a few rather than to the many, some will think it unfair. And they may. When Jesus chose the twelve in whom he would invest his life, there were probably some who had been following who felt he was unfair not to include them. But it was essential that he focus on a few if he was to adequately prepare them to carry on his mission.
At other times we feel inadequate for the task – we feel that we don’t know enough or that there are others who know more. The truth is that we will often feel inadequate, especially if we are working with younger, high-capacity leaders. But we are not responsible for passing on what we don’t know, but for passing on what we do know.
Our responsibility is to empty our cup - our life, knowledge, and experience - into the lives of others.
One of the measures of success as a leader is whether or not we leave our responsibilities in capable hands.
So leaders: Who are you intentionally apprenticing? Who are you raising up to replace yourself? How are doing in emptying your cup into their lives?