Place Nationals in Places of Leadership
Place nationals in places of leadership from day one and let them fail. Now how is that for a contradiction of what we said before. The point of this chapter is to help you realize how important it is to immediately put the nationals into leadership. You will not find “ready made leaders.”
You will have to develop them. As you train your men to serve God you will have to put them in the work so that they can fail. If they do not fail they will not learn from their mistakes. Theory is one thing and practice is quite another.
Consider how Jesus tested His men as He trained them. In Luke 10:1 He sends the apostles out to preach and do the ministry. His purpose is actually to test them and show how much they have learned. They come back in Luke 10:17 and discuss the ministry with them. He corrects them about what they should rejoice about. They were excited that the devils had been subject to them. He wants them to realize that the power He gives them is never the exciting part. The important thing is that they know that their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Jesus takes the time to correct them. Now that they have some experience and not just theory He can teach them more.
In Luke 8:22 the Lord Jesus clearly tells them that they are going to the other side. He says “let us go over!” This is something that is going to happen but when the storm comes up they get very afraid. This is a tremendous test. Can they trust Jesus to get them to the other side no matter the circumstances? When they are afraid He corrects them. He asks them where their faith is! Teaching in the classroom is one thing. Teaching in a storm will not be forgotten.
In John 6:6 He knows what He will do but He still asks. It makes for a good teaching time. Have you guys learned to think yet? It is a pop quiz, check up time. If you wait until your gone to test them you will be unable to help them get the answers right.
Use the ministry to train your people. Do not use your people to build the ministry. He explained the ministry to His people. He then let them go and test their knowledge and ability. When they failed or messed up on something He was there to help them. They needed to test the theories. They needed to see how it would work in their own lives and ministries. Just remember that the secret of your success is helping your people have success in their spiritual lives and ministries. You are not really a success until you have made others a success and until you have a successor.
You will not find leaders that are ready made. You will have to love them, lead them, and train them. Do not expect perfection from them. Know that you are working with flawed men. Know that they need you. If they were in such good shape and ready made leaders then why would they need you.
The next question will be what positions of leadership can they have. So let me remind you that leadership should really be view as servanthood. There are no verses in the Bible that would lead us to be leaders as in bosses. Biblically the idea of being a leader is viewed negatively in the Bible.
Matthew 20:25-27 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
We are not to be about our titles and positions. This goes against what much of our culture has taught us as missionaries and pastors. We want the titles. We want the positions. We breed it into our people and so they want it also. This causes a great deal of fighting for position.
Matthew 23:8-12 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
So when we consider giving them a position of leadership it is not about being the pastor. It is about starting them in some sort of ministry. Make a list of every possible ministry a person can have in your church from being a greeter, usher, cleaning, nursery, Sunday School teacher, discipleship, etc. Start with the smallest things that need doing. Do not promise more later. Do not tell them that they are being tested to be moved up. You do not tell them everything you know. Let them try their hand at a ministry that is within their abilities. Teach them. Make that ministry as big as you can. It is important. Everything that we do in the ministry is important. Serving is leading.
Be careful not to build into them the need to be recognized or important. Remember the command that we are not to have titles, not to lord it over others, but to serve them. Teach them serving. Teach them that it is not about them but Him. Teach them to lift up the Lord and make much of Him. Teach them that it is an honor to serve others.
As they lead remind them of this passage:
Philippians 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
So remember that as you train them to lead you are really training them to serve. If you are not careful you will have the wrong attitude and you will build it into your people. Regardless, you need to give them responsibility and let them try. When they fail and they will, help them, love them, and teach to do it better next time. They can’t learn without trying and failing until they learn.
About the Author
Austin Gardner is the founding Pastor of Vision Baptist Church and a veteran missionary to the country of Peru, South America for over 20 years. The Lord blessed his ministry and allowed him to train pastors and leaders in the ministry that have started 80+ churches all over the world. He is a sought-after speaker on missions and travels extensively as a part of his continuing ministry of training missionaries.
He has started multiple schools for ministry including the Peru Bible College and the Our Generation Training Center which continues to train young men and women pursuing a life of full-time world missions.
Connect with him at austingardner.net or by email@example.com.