"Learning to take personal responsibility for your own calling..." When I think about leadership development for myself, I will confess to usually looking OUT before I look IN, or UP. Who would like to develop my gifts for the service of the kingdom? What conferences are available? Where is so-and-so speaking? Hmm...
Interestingly, members of my current small group were recently discussing the unfortunate reality that most people in church leadership positions don't feel prepared for the tasks required by their role. One Sunday you are a church member who looks to the leadership for guidance and accountability. And the next Sunday your 'lot' gets drawn and you will soon be installed as one who is expected to offer that same guidance and accountability you once sought. Gulp! Whose job is it to prepare church leaders to lead? CRCNA? Local body? Pastors? Who, me? Yep, to all of the above. But when it comes to leadership development, I think we look to the first three, before we look to ourselves in taking responsibility for that preparation. I think that needs to change. I know it does for me.
Across the board, one of the best 'prep tools' that I have encountered in my 20+ years in church leadership positions is Hugh Halter and Matt Smay's Tangible Kingdom and Tangible Kingdom Primer. It does not teach you about the mechanics of Robert's Rules of Order or outline how to respond to difficult comments from church members. Instead it guides you through the formation of the right posture in which to learn the mechanics. It coaches you to establish faithful rhythms: exploring a theme, meditating on related Scripture, identifying necessary change, acting out the transformation, being in community with fellow disciples, reflecting on the experiences, and sabbath rest.
On a practical note, our particular group needed two weeks for every one in the book, if we were to really engage with the material. And once we'd finished it the first time, most of us wanted to do it again! The transformation was happening in our minds and hearts, and now were feeling more ready to lean into the Action pieces in our new-found rhythm. We were feeling more prepared to be 'Jesus with skin on' in our new intentional interactions with others, as we sought to bless them, with no strings attached. To be the Gospel. To lead.
Available at Missio Publishing along with may other leadership development resources.