A Developing Thought


Take this quick quiz! What do leaders do?

Well, most would say that leaders equip others, strategically guide, make courageous decisions, boldly define current reality, set vision, etc.

Recently, in talking with Greg Henson, president of Sioux Falls Seminary, he pushed me to think about a different task necessary for those of us who lead. In Greg’s terms, leaders DEVELOP others. They work with those in their sphere of influence to build relationships that allow them to speak into those core issues of transformation and growth.

Though written for the context of theological education, I think Greg’s recent blog informs us well of this needed move toward people development.

For over 100 years, theological education has focused on teaching people for ministry.  It may be time for us to devote an immense amount of time to creating systems of theological education that develop people for their unique callings.  The paradigm of equipping leaders or training leaders narrows our focus to the acquisition of skill and knowledge.  Neither skill nor knowledge is helpful unless a person integrates that skill and knowledge into his or her rhythm of life and ministry.  In order to create that rhythm, students must walk through an intentional development process with multiple mentors facilitating that process.

It is in that process of personal and holistic development that an individual comes to understand his or her unique call.  God has gifted each of us in unique ways in order that we might participate in his redemptive mission.  Theological education should help students understand, articulate, and grow in their unique calling without being removed from their context.

I very much agree with Greg that the mere teaching of skills or knowledge will not help a person grow. In fact, the book of James reminds us that the acquisition of knowledge or skill without development (transformation) is useless—like looking into a mirror, knowing the necessary changes, but not making the changes.

So to lead people, we must pour our efforts in to finding ways to develop them—mentor, provoke, and encourage—in the context of real life.

Who might God be leading you to develop right now? Who are you moving into a relationship with, not to teach, train, or equip, but to develop by mentoring them through real life, on the ground, transformative discipleship?

May God truly lead you as you lead others.

Dan Hamil, Ed.D.
Executive Director (Interim)
North American Baptists, Inc.

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