One of my goals as a pastor is to have a bunch of mini-Chris’s running around the church. I want to people to think like me, act like me, and lead like me. Scary, huh!? But the apostle Paul embodied such a goal when he called to the Corinthians to be like him: “Be imitators of me just as I also of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). As a Leader, you are just one link in a larger chain of followership. The biblical pattern is to call others to follow your way precisely because you are trying to follow Christ with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. When you have others following you as you follow Christ you will be engaging in leadership development. In reality, leadership development is merely this:
discipleship + leadership skills = leadership development
Let’s not overcomplicate things. Leadership development is just an intentional form of Christian discipleship. That’s it. As a Christian, you are called by the Lord to make disciples who make disciples of Jesus (Matt 28:18-20). So you’re already supposed to be reproducing the life of Christ, which is found in your life, in the lives of other people. Remembering that developing leaders is really about discipling others helps us to keep in mind that our task is most a spiritual endeavor. We are not just trying to get people trained to just do stuff. We are trying to help them follow Jesus. So, much of leadership development will consist of basic discipleship.
The other element of the leadership develop equation is important too. We must be developing leaders with particular skills. But what kind of skills? I would argue that the most important skills are “meta-skills” for the Christian life and Christian leadership. Meta-skills are skills which are foundational to the Christian life and Christian leaders. They are skills which support and nourish other skills. You can’t effectively have skills without meta-skills. For example, knowing how to lead a Bible discussion is a skill. But knowing how to read and interpret the Bible properly is a meta-skill. You really can’t lead an effective Bible discussion if you don’t know what the text is saying!
Meta-skills are also important because they are adaptable to a wide-range of situations and ministry contexts. Knowing how to read and interpret the Bible properly applies to ministry leaders in children’s ministry, youth ministry, college ministry, or adult ministry. In order to teach a Learning Group, you need to know how to read and interpret the Bible. To lead a Community Group, you need to know how to read and interpret the Bible. To even just give good advice to someone, you need to know how to read and interpret the Bible.
So when you are discipling others, try to think about what kind of meta-skills are necessary for competent and qualified Christian leadership. I have a few thoughts as to what basic meta-skills, or meta-habits, Christian leaders need. But I would love to hear what you come up too. What are some meta-skills you think Christian leaders need?