As disciples grow, they are called to begin to serve others more effectively. Some become leaders of others in that process. In the Kingdom of God, leadership is accomplished by serving others. The best leaders are the best servants. We are called to help disciples become true servant leaders in all arenas of their life.

Two Truths About Leadership

Before we walk through six steps that can help us build some disciples to be leaders, we need to emphasize two very important truths about leadership.

1. The first we’ve already stated: leadership is servanthood. Leadership is not about ordering others around or enjoying the feeling of power. Leaders exist to serve others (Luke 22:25-27).

2. The second truth about leadership is that leadership is about action, not position or titles. Leaders don’t really care what others call them. They simply take the actions God has led them to take.

If people seek leadership out of pride, or to impress others, they are not yet mature enough to be leaders. We should go back to the step of discipleship, and ask God how we can help them grow in humility and servanthood. It can be tempting to make people into leaders too soon.

On the other hand, it can also be tempting to never call people into leadership. We may think that we are simply supposed to do everything ourselves. We may be clinging to our own leadership platform and find it difficult to give that platform away to another.

Or we may think that we need to wait until people are perfectly mature. People don’t have to be perfect to be leaders – they simply need to be open and humble enough to let God use them.

IRTDMN – A Leadership Multiplication Process

IRTDMN is a series of letters that provides a memorable way to think about our process of developing leaders. Each letter represents a vital step in the process of helping a disciple become a leader of others, and then become a developer of other leaders.

I – The first step of leadership development is to identify a leader.

How do we identify a leader? The first step is to pray and ask God to show us whom we are to develop as a leader. What does your heart tell you? Who do you sense God’s hand is on to show others what it means to be a disciple?

The second is to simply observe people. Who seems to be influential? Who is willing to take initiative? Try putting a board game on a table in the middle of a social event to see who starts the game! Or you may notice that one person always arrives early and stays late, or asks more questions with more hunger than anyone else in the group. That person could be a leader in the making.

As you observe the followers of Jesus in your sphere of relationships, look for the traits of humility, servanthood, faithfulness, availability, and teachability. These are the marks of a leader ready to fly.

R – The second step is to recruit the leader.

We must develop an idea of what we’d like the person to do, and then ask them to do it. Sometimes we aren’t clear enough on what it is we want someone to do. They can become confused about what they are being asked to do, and may pull away from leading. Clarity can help a person stay in the growth process that is leadership.

You may find a person to be a bit reticent to step into a leadership role. Encourage them with the fact that you believe in them, that they are loved by God, and that they are called to use their gifts to serve others. Don’t pressure them to become leaders, but don’t be afraid to encourage them to take a risk and lead.

T – The third step is to train them.

This may or may not involve a class or some curriculum, but even if it does, that isn’t the main part of training. The main part of training is what we call the “discipleship loop.”

The discipleship loop has four parts. First, we lead while the new leader watches. Second, they lead while we observe. Third, they lead on their own, and we check in on them to ask how they are doing. Fourth, they recruit someone to do that leadership task, and begin the process of training them. By the time the discipleship loop is complete, both you and the leader you trained are now training others. That is where the multiplication begins.

D – The fourth step is to deploy the leader.

Let them go lead. This involves risk on the part of the new leader and the person developing them. It’s okay if things don’t go perfectly. All leaders take time to grow.

One really important part of this step is to get beyond the fear of people making mistakes. Mistakes are one of the most underrated forms of spiritual growth. If new leaders make mistakes, just encourage them to try again. Usually they will do fine the second time around.

M – The fifth step is important – we monitor the new leader.

This doesn’t mean hovering over them or controlling them. It means that we don’t simply abandon them; we have some way of checking in on them to see how they’re doing.

One way we do this is to simply ask them how their leadership task is going. Another way to monitor is to ask the people they are leading how they think the endeavor is going, and how they think the leader is doing. Sometimes we will get more honest input this way.

N – The final step of leadership development is nurture.

The Kingdom of God is about community and relationship, not lone rangers. All of us need people in our lives to hold us accountable, and to encourage us when we are discouraged.

The nurture step is like getting an oil change. You can ignore the need for an oil change for a while, and things might seem to be fine with your car. But ignore it for too long – and things will break down. It’s the same with leaders. They can go without nurture for a bit, but if they never receive it, they’ll become tired and burnt out.

Evangelize, disciple, and develop leaders – then do it again.

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