April 24, 2017

Multiplying Leadership

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A Note from Luminex: This morning’s blog post is the seventh in a 10-week series on leadership. Enjoy!

After the supremacy of Christ, the centrality of the gospel and the authority of the Bible as the Word of God, what is most important for the Church of Jesus Christ, as we face the challenges of fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandments in an increasingly godless society, devoid of a “true north?”

One could reasonably argue that loving and proclaiming the gospel to the sick, abused, broken, oppressed, lost and dying is the most important focus for the life energy of those who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord. It would be hard to argue against this proposition.

However, if it is true that the church only has two functional options before her – slow death or deep transformative, systemic change – and that this “deep change” is deeper, harder and longer than many of us thought, and that as go the leaders so goes the church, then I submit to you that the first priority for the contemporary church is to multiply leaders who possess the spiritual, emotional and relational health to address the challenges we face.

Leadership training events, workshops, books, podcasts and retreats all have value for the multiplication of leaders, and leaders of leaders. However, I have come to the conclusion that investing in a few leaders over the long term in a one-on-one coaching/equipping relationship is the best way to actually multiply the courageous leaders who are needed in the current milieu. After all, Jesus set an example for multiplying leaders by investing in twelve, and more acutely three, disciples for his entire ministry here on earth.

In my own experience, the long-term coaching relationship that has been part of my life in recent years has afforded me the opportunity to develop increasing clarity regarding God’s call on my life,  gain the courage of my convictions regarding team ministry, and enhance my ability to foster crucial and difficult conversations in the exercise of my leadership roles. I am a more effective multiplying leader as a direct result of a caring and competent long term coaching relationship.

What follows is the testimony of two pastoral leaders with whom I have worked for the long term, Michael De Ruyter and Scott Lokers:

“In my life coaching has played a critically important role in multiplying leaders for several reasons. First, coaching helps me keep this goal in front of me. It is easy for me to trade off the time and energy required for multiplying leaders, long-term coaching helps me keep it a clear, accountable priority. Second, coaching has helped me invest more deeply in people by helping me be aware of my tendency to avoid hard conversations, risky vulnerability, or disagreement perceived as rejection. I see multiplying leaders as arising out of my own willingness to have authentic and vulnerable relationships with leaders being developed. And finally, long-term coaching has given me some specific tools and resources to use, time to practice with those tools, and then space for questions, feedback and fine-tuning. For example, the format of setting and working towards 90-day goals has helped in this work of developing leaders, and it has taken some more extended coaching to help me implement this as a strategy.”
– Michael DeRuyter, Lead Pastor of Midland Reformed Church

“There are three main things I want to say in terms of the value of having a coach long-term. The first is fairly obvious, and numbers two and three may be less obvious.

1). To have an objective, outside voice is invaluable in terms of processing strategy, goals, places I’m stuck, etc.  It is also really helpful to have someone hold me accountable in terms of adaptive leadership.

2). To be the recipient of my coach’s time and attention is a real gift. This always causes me to reflect before the session on, “What is most important for me to bring up? Where am I stuck? What topic might bear the most fruit in my moving forward?” I probably wouldn’t ask those questions as often if I didn’t have a coach.

3). To be the recipient of my coach’s time and attention causes me to ask questions like, “What leaders can I invest in? How do I pay this blessing forward?” I see the role of investing in other leaders as some of the most important work I can do because having someone coach me has been such a blessing!”

– Scott Lokers, Specialized Transition Minister

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