One key element of successful leadership is raising up and equipping future leaders. Great leaders give leadership away. But how do we determine who we should be investing in? Who should we give leadership attention and responsibility to?

Look for the right qualifications

In every role, certain skills and abilities are more important than others. Not every person can do every role at the same level of competency. Look for people who have the capacity to do the job. But keep two things in mind. First, skills can be developed through training and experience. Just because a person can’t do the job now doesn’t mean she never will be able to. Second, the only way to measure a person’s capacity is by giving her opportunities to grow. Give a measure of responsibility and see how she does with it. If she succeeds, give her more.

Look for the right kind of person

Many leaders have made the mistake of elevating someone on the basis of competence without considering character. Character is the baseline for selecting potential leaders. The essential character traits for leadership have been summarized in different ways. One approach is to look for “FAT” people:

  • Faithful – have they been faithful with things they have agreed to do?
  • Available – are they willing and ready to serve, or is there always something else in the way?
  • Teachable – are they humble enough to learn anything from anyone?

Another approach is to “FETCH” the right kind of people, especially for a ministry role:

  • Follower of Jesus – no one leads in a ministry setting without being sure of where they stand with God.
  • Evidence of a changed life – they are consistently growing in their intention to honor God.
  • Teachable and willing – see FAT above.
  • Church family – a leader who is not connected to the church cannot contribute to the overall momentum of the church’s ministry.
  • Heart to help – a servant attitude that makes it about others rather then self.

What about personality?

God created an infinite array of personality traits in individuals. Some personality styles lend themselves to certain roles. But don’t assume that only certain personality types can get a certain job done. It’s just that people with different personalities will do the job in different ways. Each personality trait has strengths and weaknesses. But competence is not equal to personality.

Be willing to try and fail

Don’t be discouraged if someone you identify and invest in doesn’t pan out. There are many factors beyond your control. Maybe that person became distracted or demotivated. Maybe there were hidden character flaws. Maybe they didn’t end up having the skills or abilities to do the job. Nobody has a 100% track record in identified and equipping leaders. If you never try, you will never succeed. When someone you have invested in doesn’t become a leader, trust God with the process in that person’s life and in yours. Your investment is never a waste. You learn more about developing leaders. And that person may¬†well become the leader you envisioned, but at some later time, when other factors come together in their life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Talk about a time when someone identified you as a potential future leader. What did they do?
  4. How can you tell whether a person has the right qualifications for a particular role?
  5. Why is character as important as competency?
  6. What character qualities would you identify as important to look for in future leaders?
  7. Do you agree or disagree: “Competence is not equal to personality.” Explain.
  8. Have you mis-identified a future leader? What happened? What did you learn?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.