Questions to Ask When Considering a Leader

May 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

In this series of posts, I am going to unpack the strategy and structure of leadership development we have implemented at The Austin Stone for missional communities.  I’ll be looking at:

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How do you help those who self-identify and discern whether or not they are a good fit for leadership?

First, I think you need to ask some questions about your ministry if you’re going to do an effective job of self-identification while maintaining a healthy ministry.

Here’s a set of questions that I think are important to answer:

1. What is our vision, philosophy, and practicals of our ministry?

As a leader, I think it is critical to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish.  A vision should be clear and succinct, but deep enough for extended conversation and reflection.  Our vision is to cultivate disciple-making movement through missional communities, and we unpack that in our Missional Community Roadmap.

2. What am I asking of a leader?

You’ll need a clear understanding of what you are expecting.  What is a win? What is off the mark? I don’t think you need a huge laundry list, but some basic high points would be helpful.  For us, a leader is someone who is championing the mission of a community to a pocket of people, and cultivating healthy practices of missional community.

3. What does the individual who desires leadership want to do?

Part of creating a healthy leadership development system is listening to the vision of the individual leader.  You need to assess where the person is coming from! Most people with a desire to lead bring a set of convictions and preconceived notions about ministry with them.  Understanding them is a key point of whether or not you place a person in a position of leadership.

4. Are your vision and the potential leader’s vision compatible?

Do they have an entirely different understanding of ministry than you? Will they be willing to submit themselves to your vision, or do they only have interest in pursuing theirs? It won’t be a good partnership if there is miscommunication here.

In my experience, getting the distinctions out in the open can ruffle some feathers, but in the long run reduces conflict and minimizes more difficult future conversations.  On a very practical note, simply because someone doesn’t use your language doesn’t mean they don’t have the same desire.  I’ve had to hold my language loosely, but my theology and philosophy of ministry tightly.

5. How do we move forward?

After you have answered the questions above, it’s time to clearly outline next steps.  If there is a clear incompatibility, then you need to be clear that the individual should not be leading, and articulate the reason why.

For those you want to move forward with, having a clearly designated pathway is very important. Answering these questions to varying degrees of specificity should help you design the system that you need for your ministry.

I’ll spend the next post unpacking our “next steps”.  

Which of these questions do you need to spend time thinking about?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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