We are into the 4th of our series on what I’m calling the 5 ‘C’s of Christian leadership. Thus far, we have seen that healthy Christian leadership is dependent on the call of God, the character of the individual and the charism (gift) of the Holy Spirit. Today, we look at Competence – or the skills or abilities that are required to be effective leaders in God’s kingdom, and the method Jesus used to develop the skills and competency of his disciples.
In 2012, my wife and I began the planting of a NAMS base community in Bangkok, Thailand called All Nations. The year before, I had a vivid dream. We were at a NAMS training event. At the end of the meeting, I was sat with a bunch of Asian looking people, talking about starting this new disciple-making community. In the dream, I said that learning to follow Jesus is more ‘caught than taught.’ I also remember distinctively telling them: ”We teach by doing, we do by teaching’. And then I woke up.
When I reflected and prayed about it, I felt the Lord reveal that our base community must model and make disciples. ‘Being with’ would lead to ‘becoming like’.
NAMS bases are to be places where people get infected by the discipleship-virus of Jesus, and become contagious. But they will only learn from what they see us doing, and we can only get people to do by us showing and training them. And this will involved raising competent leaders with us.
‘Show and tell’ then, is not just for school children – it has kingdom implications.
Jesus’ way of developing competent leaders was a call for his disciples to be where he was (Mark 3:14). Jesus’ school of discipleship was no theoretical study in a controlled environment. It was life lived at large. His disciples had front-row seats of the Master at work: watching him, interacting with and assisting him. Jesus would demonstrate, discuss, train, give assignments, debrief and retreat with, and ultimately commission his disciples to the same work as Him.
Jesus had an end-vision for us that sees further than we can. Indeed, he called his disciples on the basis not of who they were, but what he intended them to be.
The first and the last recorded words that Jesus spoke to Peter were the same: ‘Follow me.’ Post-resurrection, he assures the crest-fallen thrice-denying Peter, that he was still called to feed and care for the Lord’s lambs and sheep. Jesus saw beyond Peter’s failures in the past to what he intended by the Spirit’s power for Peter to become.
And we, like Peter, must keep your eyes on Jesus.
Discipleship and leadership in God’s kingdom is always relational and particular. This means we cannot cookie-cut and mass produce either. Each one is uniquely called, gifted and therefore to be trained and deployed. But the process of discovering and honing those spiritual gifts and abilities require the being in community and under authority of godly leadership.
Like Jesus, we will identify a few people we intentionally spend our lives with. Of them, we might just have one or three (Jesus had James, John and Peter) that we specially and specifically mentor for more focused leadership development. There are seasons for intentional mentoring and calling some aside. I have been blessed and grown so much from occasional seasons spent with my mentors and influential leaders.
Competency therefore in terms of Jesus-shaped leadership is about focused development of our fullest gifting and potential. It is helping people to become what Jesus is calling them to be.
It would involve developing a number of life and leadership skills – self-understanding, self-management, interpersonal skills and ability, goal setting, the concretizing and communication of vision as God gives it, and the ability to call people to the task at hand in obedience to all that God commands. But it has to happen in the context of our larger relationship as disciples of Jesus in community and on mission with him.
To raise competent disciple-making leaders will involve leaders doing all they can to develop other leaders, a few at a time.
Show and tell. Call out and encourage the gifts and life-skills of new leaders. Mentor and disciple them. That’s the Jesus-way.
 Mark 1:17; John 21:22