In recent years Junior has been increasingly sought for leadership development. While many of these are ministerial or church-related, he has also helped communicators, sports coaches, developing business leaders, even teachers and doctoral candidates, in some of the most nuanced and often overlooked ways. Similarly, a growing number of leaders have expressed interest in a regular commentary or mini-devotional from Junior on leadership. In response, the bit below is for you. (All content here and sitewide is the intellectual and copyright property of JDM. All rights reserved.)
When doing multiperson leadership equipping, Junior loves to use small "Mount of Olives" home meetings. These relaxed, candid environments compel leaders to ask questions, share freely, dialogue in-depth, nourish interleader intimacy, and practice their gifted craft in a nurturant, but guided, setting. Individual follow-up spins off naturally and supernaturally from these unusually productive meetings.
As a leader, you are the genes of your group or organization. Your unique helix of personality, instincts, abilities, experience, and maturity level will determine the visible nature and quality of your group. Not only does this impose a stern mandate of personal growth and leadership development, it cautions us to wisely discern the "epigenetics" of leadership also: who we agree to lead, under what conditions, and for how long.
On The Shortcut, The Art of Spiritual Courtship:
In 2Corinthians 11:2, Paul said he treated his spiritual leadership like a courtship (Young's Literal Translation): ...for I am zealous for you with zeal of God, for I did betroth you to one husband, a pure virgin, to present to Christ.
In the modern era of internet, profile-based dating, not to mention a process-less hookup culture, very, very few people still understand the art of courtship. While every generation of human history has had its romantic and sexual shortcuts, today's internet and communication technology have almost institutionalized such shortcuts. These roundabouts and hurry-to-the-goal mechanisms largely eliminate the need for advanced social skills, social skills required to win someone over with time and detail amidst obstacles or resistance.
The shortcut phenomenon and its near-institutionalization, however, is not only in the realm of romance and sex, but in the realm of leadership, and in the context of this mini-article, spiritual leadership within the church.
I regularly, perhaps often, engage with leaders in the born-again community that have an agitated (but often silent or subtle) undercurrent of impatience. People are not changing fast enough. Numbers are not increasing fast enough. More money is not coming in fast enough. Opportunities are not opening fast enough. Where is the shortcut? Where is the accelerator? Where is the winning tactic?
To be clear, there are leadership modes and tactics, and spiritual modes and tactics, that tend to slow things down or speed things up. Regardless, there is an inescapable art to leadership in the body of Christ that will not change: the art of spiritual courtship. People need to be, literally, wooed and won with time and detail. Solomon said that a person who can consistently win a soul is wise (Pr 11:30). Many Christians use this proverb for evangelism, but evangelism as such did not exist when Solomon philosophized. The proverb has a more practical and ubiquitous scope, one application of which would certainly be leadership and the art of courting a person, a group, an organization, a church.
There is a delicacy to spiritual leadership. There is a romancing and wooing of the Bride to her heavenly Husband. This process, whether it happens a bit faster or a bit slower, cannot be ignored. Like a maiden being courted pre-modernity, Christians will become suspicious and resistant, defensive and resentful, if you try to rush them to a goal without taking the time to win them at a warm emotional and relational level. This is not something you can fake or force or rush. This is not something you can funnel into the scheduled meeting times twice a week. This requires patience and detail, and the returns are truly astounding.
How much do you know about the people you lead? I am not referring to their superficial dossier, but to secondary and deeper knowledge. Stuff that you actually have to try and find out, i.e., quality unforced time and listening skills where you do not talk for long stretches of time. To do that you actually have to care about them.