10 Core Skills You Need to Develop Leaders


Without developing more and better leaders, it's unlikely that you'll realize all that God has in mind for your church. Yes, God can do anything, He doesn't "need" us, but He chose us. This is his plan. In His divine wisdom, God has chosen to extend His kingdom through us.

Jesus modeled leadership development. He gathered the 70, selected the 12 disciples, and he was close to Peter, James and John. Jesus invested in them. He spent time with them, taught them, corrected them, cared about them and empowered them to preach the gospel, heal the sick and carry out the kingdom of God.

I'm grateful for the mentors who have so generously invested in me. Candidly, without them I can't imagine where I'd be, and it's highly unlikely that I'd be writing to you today.

Their passion has rubbed off on me, and for decades now, it's been my privilege to develop other leaders. Second only to someone's salvation, there's just nothing like helping someone grow as a leader. That experience leads to a legacy that anyone who develops leaders can enjoy.

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A 3-Point Framework:

  • Vision – Developing leaders is the best way to realize the full measure of your vision to reach people for Christ. You just can't do it alone, raising up more leaders is essential.
  • Heart – The best developers of leaders genuinely care about the men and women they invest in... it's not only to grow the church, it's first to grow the person.
  • Skill – When you develop leaders inside an organization like the local church, there are certain skills required to be effective.

I've written a book titled Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People and Impact Others for a Lifetime.

If you would like more in-depth content on these 10 skills, you can order the book here. Amplified Leadership will teach you how to improve these skills.

But in this post, I want to give you the outline at a glance.

Before we jump into the outline, let me offer these three principles:

  1. If it's a skill, it can be learned. The 10 skills I will outline can be taught and learned.
  2. You may already have a good grasp of all 10 skills, but that doesn't mean you maintain those skills at a higher lever or larger church. You need to continually learn them as you grow and the church grows.
  3. They are listed in a sequential fashion. They begin more basic and get more nuanced. However, leadership development rarely runs in a straight line. It's not linear. This is just the best way to learn and teach it.

Amplified Leadership
A Relationally-based Process of Leadership Development

Leadership Outcome Desired and Leadership Skills Required:
Establish a Relationship—Connect and Appreciate
Engage a Follower—Encourage and Inspire
Embrace a Team Member—Invite and Equip
Coach an Apprentice—Select and Include
Mentor a New Leader—Develop and Empower

10 Core Skills Required to Develop Leaders in the Church

1. Connect.

Leadership begins at the place where we connect at a heart level. Connection is the beginning of all true influence. Authenticity is at the core of connection and is essentially about you being real as a leader, it's about being yourself. You will never connect if you self-protect (attempt to hide the real you.)

2. Appreciate.

The ability to appreciate people as God made them is the foundation for seeing what they can become. Appreciating people the way they are can seem like a tension for leaders because we want to help people grow, improve and realize their potential. So, we challenge because we care about them. But we need to be careful not to push so much that our intentions are misunderstood. It's important that we love and appreciate people the way they are.

3. Encourage.

The ability to encourage attracts people to you and builds their self-confidence. Encouragement is the emotional fuel that enables people to hold longer, reach farther and dig deeper than previously believed possible. If you're an encouraging leader, people move toward you simply because you help them think, feel and believe better about themselves.

4. Inspire.

Inspiration connects people with the vision and lifts their sights to new possibilities. All leaders must inspire, not just the senior pastor and senior staff. The cool thing is that you get to inspire by your own style, and there are several common styles that you might identify with such as relational, strategic, passion, competence and coaching.

5. Invite.

The ability to invite with conviction gives people the opportunity to serve in distinctive areas of meaningful ministry. The skill of inviting people into ministry is another way of saying recruiting. Your invitation extends an opportunity to be part of something bigger than they are, one they could not accomplish on their own. Be careful not to dismiss recruiting as a management technique. Jesus was a master recruiter. When he said to Peter and Andrew, "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people," He wanted a yes.

6. Equip.

Training a potential leader in core competencies for specific ministries sets them up for success. Equipping someone involves training them to accomplish specific ministry functions or tasks, such as how to lead a child to Christ or how to demonstrate gifts of hospitality as a greeter. Equipping also helps them carry out the overall responsibility they own as a team member and potential leader for that ministry.

7. Select.

It's a noble thing to prepare the way for someone who might surpass you in leadership. Choosing the right apprentice positions the individual and the church for progress. Making the right selection not only affects the person but the future effectiveness of your church. Ask questions like: Will they follow? Will they serve? Will they learn? Will they sacrifice? And, will they be honest? These questions are just the beginning of a good selection process.

8. Include.

Giving an apprentice real responsibility allows them to experience the reality of leadership. The current leaders need to resist the temptation to protect their territory. Exclusion prevents emerging leaders from rising to their full potential. New leaders need to feel the weight of leadership, be allowed to make mistakes and learn to take responsibility for the role they carry.

9. Develop.

The emergence of a new leader is a great gift to the kingdom of God. The ability to develop leaders is a transformational skill. Developing is a skill that enables an individual to become a bigger, better, stronger person. It's not only about being a leader in the church, but a better leader at home, at work and in the community. It's a holistic process that benefits the church, but the person comes first. Grow the leader, and they will grow the church.

10. Empower.

True empowerment allows a leader to realize their full potential. Extending trust and transferring authority releases a new leader to fulfill their potential and the mission of the church. Empowerment involves extending authority equal to the level of expected responsibility. And at the core of effective empowerment is trust and a confident belief in them as a leader.

I hope this specific skill-set outline resonates with your heart to develop leaders!

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.

This article originally appeared at danreiland.com.

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