“Think of a time when you were most developed. What was true of that situation?” The group was quiet for a few moments, then eyes brightened with the memories, smiles grew, and laughter followed as one by one, they started to tell their stories. This group of leaders were reliving formative moments as we discussed leadership development.
“Someone believed in me.”
“I had a chance to lead something I never thought I could do. I was on my own. The decisions were mine and I felt that.”
“While I had the authority, my leader was also available to me if I needed help.”
“I had no support at all! That’s what made me grow!”
“He kept telling me, ‘you can do it.’”
“I made some big mistakes, but I learned.”
These were the common responses, true in many of the stories. These leaders grew when they were entrusted with responsibility for something they had never done by someone who believed in them. Many leaders tell similar stories.
What prompted this discussion? The lack of leaders! As a leader, it’s easy to get focused on the task that you’re trying to accomplish. But no enterprise grows unless the leader invests in his or her people. Often our best next generation leaders are sitting right under our noses, but we fail to give them the opportunities to stretch and develop.
Jesus did this a lot with His people. In Luke 10, He sent out seventy two disciples to proclaim the Kingdom with only some simple instructions. In fact, He has entrusted us with the greatest task, and says, “I will be with you always.”
Without some intentionality, we may find ourselves with no one to take up the baton when we’re ready to step aside. To have sustaining work means investing in people to build their leadership. Who is in your sphere of influence that needs to grow in faith and confidence? What real work can be entrusted to them? Give it away and let them soar!