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Raising Leaders: Part Two

Chris Lane

Chris Lane concludes his thoughts on the need to reproduce leaders who reproduce leaders.

To return to the “How do I identify a leader question?”  this is as much an art as it is a science and one that I have managed to get wrong on more than one occasion.  A few years ago, we were looking for an Associate Pastor.  Unable to find one with the pre-requisite qualifications within our own community, we looked further afield and advertised widely.  Eventually, I was contacted by the Senior Pastor of a “flag ship” Vineyard in the U.S. He commended his associate pastor to me who was looking to relocate to the UK.  A long courtship ensued.  We did it by the book and were able to establish to our satisfaction that the candidate had good character, certainly had the competence and to our delight we appeared to have chemistry. These three “C’s” are well documented when looking for leaders and rightly so.. ignore them at your peril! That does not mean however, that you dismiss anyone who isn’t “the finished article,” it simply means that you go into the relationship with your eyes open, knowing which areas need work and determining how best you can compensate in the meantime.

Our new associate pastor arrived complete with his brand new pencil case, plimsoll bag and dinner money.

To return to my associate pastor story: After eighteen months of deliberation, our new associate pastor arrived complete with his brand new pencil case, plimsoll bag and dinner money. It was a great day, full of hope and expectation!  Within two weeks, he was sat on the sofa with his nerves in tatters. No it wasn’t me!…He had been the victim of serious bullying and spiritual abuse in his previous church, in fact he wasn’t the only one. Within short order the US branch of AVC was alerted and the Senior Pastor suspended.  Sadly, it turned out to be the proverbial “can of worms” and the church faltered then failed. In the meantime, we had to carry a brand new member of staff on a substantial salary plus benefits, who was in the throws of a nervous breakdown.

What did I learn from this experience?  Well, “home grown” leaders are the best leaders.  They may take a little longer to develop but this is a marathon not a sprint, so they’re worth the effort and the wait. As for the three “C’s” they are to be taken seriously.. I kidded myself that good social skills meant good chemistry.  Wimber once told me to “trust your gut.. its part of a leader’s anointing!” I was tired of the search for a new associate pastor and wanted this to work so badly that I ignored some nagging doubts in the pit of my stomach… It was a costly mistake.

There was only one problem.. he wasn’t a Christian.

On a lighter note: When I first met Jeremy Cook, he too ticked all the boxes.  We had chemistry, he was certainly competent and there was even evidence to suggest that he had character! There was only one problem.. he wasn’t a Christian.  So, I made it my business to get to know him.  This was by no means an onerous task but I seem to recall that malt whiskey and cigars featured quite heavily.  A short while later, while I was away on a ministry trip, Jeremy and Elaine were at a party and Bishop David Pytches “led him to the Lord.” Next thing I knew, Jeremy was a “born again” Christian!  To be perfectly honest, I felt slightly cheated.  When I teased David in a good natured sort of way that he had “pinched” one of mine, he merely protested that he had to do something to get Jeremy put out “that awful cigar!”

Jeremy and Elaine went on to tackle a number of roles in the wider church, before joining us on staff at St Albans.  However, those three qualities, competence, character & chemistry proved to be a winning combination. These three qualities are like gold.  We need to prospect for them, pan them, refine them and treasure them.  All three, held together, are always evident to some degree in great leaders. Subsequently we were able to send Jeremy & Elaine out to plant the Hull Vineyard and of course Jeremy went on to be a board member and President of Vineyard Records International.

I said earlier on that this “Identify” question was as much an art as it is a science, so let me give you a few tips about the art of identifying leaders.  First of all: Do they show up?  The thought makes me smile but I’m not actually trying to be funny.  Do they arrive early, do they leave late? Do they have the heart of a servant leader or do they like “..to be seen, holding forth with the elders at the city gate?”

All I really wanted to do was go home and put my feet up

I remember this bloke when I was in Chorleywood, to be frank.. he was a little inept but he was always there and he was always willing.  But that wasn’t the end of it.. there were always questions.. and actually some of them were quite good questions.  I’m afraid I wasn’t always as gracious as I could have been, after a four hour charismatic renewal meeting all I really wanted to do was go home and put my feet up, but he was there.. helping.. and asking questions.. good questions.  And that would be my second pointer.. Do they ask good questions?  Are they chewing things over, reflecting upon the message, trying to understand and apply it to other situations… or does the teaching just go through one ear and out the other?

While on the subject of Chorleywood.. I had a problem. The problem was the youth group.  Hundreds of people came to St Andrew’s every week to get blessed and refreshed, but no-one wanted to help with the youth group.  The result was that the youth group numbered little more than a dozen, rather angry young people who resented the carryings on in church while they were left to sink or swim. I was asked to have a go and was shocked at the apathy – no one wanted to give up one night a week to help with the youth.

God… I can’t do this on my own, you’ve got to send me some help!

I remember pouring my heart out to God, whilst walking along the beach during a short break in Cornwall.

“God.. I can’t do this on my own, you’ve got to send me some help!” I pleaded.  And this would be my third point.  Have you asked God for more leaders? I mean really asked.. got down, dirty and desperate with Him for more leaders.

And then the Lord spoke to me on that beach in Cornwall.  Now, you have to understand that I had someone in mind.  Well not so much a someone as a type, a sort of Bear Grylls on steroids.  However, the person God told me to speak to couldn’t have been more different.  He was rather overweight, shy, single and an accountant for Pearl & Dean.  Not quite what I had in mind.   But he was there… in fact he was the young man who was always asking questions.

“Ok Lord.. not quite what I had in mind but whatever….”

As we drove back to Chorleywood, I was certainly more positive.  By the time I got to church the next Sunday I was actually quite excited.

“Now where is he?” I thought as I scanned the congregation..“ah yes.. there he is standing by the sound desk!”

“Hey Mike!.. Mike Pilavachi!  I want a word with you!”

My final tip.  Try not to be dazzled by the Sauls among you… Seek God’s face and look out for the shepherd boy.

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