Today it is impossible to observe organizational need and not conclude that the overwhelming lack is the presence of sufficient good leaders and the development of better leaders. Almost all of the classic and contemporary books one can read on leadership will address this felt need for developing leaders. Here is just one such statement from a Christian statesman in the 1960s, “The overriding need of the church, if it is to discharge its obligation to the rising generation, is for a leadership that is authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.” (Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, p. 16)
As so often happens, we can invest enormous energy and cost to understand and implement leader development by learning from the best current business and Church thinkers and practitioners. We either forget or devalue that one of the greatest leaders who ever lived 2000 years ago taught, coached, and modeled leader development. If for no other reason, he is worthy of our respect since today approximately one-third of the world’s population identifies with his life and teaching. The study of the life of Jesus Christ should be the primary source for designing a process for developing people.
In this next series of blog articles, the focus will be on how Jesus developed people. There will be an exploration of how content was communicated, where and when development took place, and some principles that could enhance our efforts to develop people. Beyond the essential resource of the Bible and the Gospels in particular, learning from diligent students of Jesus is instructive. Alexander Balmin Bruce first published his classic work on The Training of the Twelve in 1877. Robert Coleman synthesized Jesus’ developmental model into eight principles in The Master Plan of Evangelism in 1963. From these two works along with the Scriptures, there is ample learning to address this perpetual challenge of building leaders for any need.
Parents, teachers, and supervisors/managers of every organization can be intentional and effective in developing people. In fact, it could be easily argued that people development is not just a job for the few, but it is the responsibility for the many. The results of development can certainly vary so well intentioned people should learn how to develop well. From the life of Jesus, we take heed of the unintended consequences when we learn to influence in unhealthy ways.
“All Christians are under obligation to make the most of their lives, to develop to the utmost their God-given powers and capacities. But Jesus taught that any ambition that centers around and terminates on oneself is wrong.” (Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, p. 11)
Where are you at when it comes to developing people? When from your past have you been developed well? In home, at school, at work? What stands out in your memory about your process of learning and development? How did the developer serve you? What about your development or lack thereof is instructive for the way you should develop others? We cannot impart what we do not possess. And like it or not, we reproduce after our own kind. What course should you take to develop into an outstanding developer of people?
Next blog: Jesus Developed by Teaching