6 Ways to Develop Leaders

Good leaders are the engine that drive almost everything successful.

Highly successful people are strong in self-leadership. Great families have dads who lead well. Healthy organizations are led by healthy leaders.

How to Develop Leaders

Everyone engaged in ministry knows the value of strong leadership. But one of the most common questions I hear from ministry leaders is:

“Where can we get more leaders?”

Every ministry leader wants to have more good leaders. Few are willing to pay the price to develop them. Sometimes this is because cultivating leaders is hard work. Sometimes it’s because the urgent crowds out the important. More often it’s because ministry leaders feel stuck and aren’t sure about what to do.

How to Develop Leaders

1. Just do something. Leaders often lock up when thinking about what curriculum to use or how to design the perfect leadership development system. This is silly. Leaders are what develop leaders. What will shape a potential leader is the person who invested in them, far more than the content. So pick a book, listen to an .mp3, attend a conference — it doesn’t matter. Just do something.

2. Talk through ministry situations. I love taking potential leaders through “case study” situations to see how they’d react and what they’d do. This gives me insight into what their flinches are, and it opens the door for lots of in-the-moment equipping.

3. Take them with you. Ministry leaders have to think plural, always asking, “Who can I take with me?” Let a developing leader go with you to the hospital, sit in on a counseling appointment, tag along for lunch with the church planter who is asking questions, travel to the camp you’re speaking at, etc. All of these are things I’ve done and every time they pay dividends.

4. Watch them do ministry. It drives me nuts that most small group apprentices only lead when the leader is unavailable. How will the apprentice ever develop if the leader isn’t there to see what happens and evaluate it?

5. Constantly evaluate and debrief. After you experience something together, evaluate it. What did you learn? What did you like? What would you never imitate? What surprised you? What made you uncomfortable? What would you have done differently? These conversations are essential for not just experiencing things, but learning from them.

6. Throw them in the deep end. On my first day in vocational ministry, I arrived at the church office early — only myself, a receptionist, and a counseling pastor were in the office. A call came in to the receptionist from a distraught lady who’s husband had just left her. The receptionist directed it to the counseling pastor who said, “Let’s give this one to Luke.” That’s the deep end! Though I didn’t think I was ready for something like that, I was more ready than I realized. Forcing me into the situation made me humble, eager to learn, dependent on God, and eventually gave me the confidence that I was more prepared than I realized. Many potential leaders are far more capable than they think. They just need a leader who is willing to throw them in the deep end and help them evaluate and learn along the way.

Developing leaders is just another expression of making disciples. Too few leaders do it. Be one who does.


What did somebody else do for you that was significant in helping you become a better leader?

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

2 thoughts on “6 Ways to Develop Leaders

  1. Very good stuff here, Luke. Particularly after your strong emphasis on Equipping leaders. Very practical.

    I don’t know anyone who is consdiered a strong leader who doesn’t have some kind of facility with articulating their thoughts. In other words, tney know how to speak! I’m not saying everyone has to be a great public speaker or be able to deliver a riveting sermon. What I am saying is that in today’s environment, it is tough to get a hearing if you can’t communicate. It might be quietly, it might be succintly, it might be one-on-one. But when you have something to say it should be done well.

    I learned some skills in this area in three arenas: preparing speeches for hgih school “clubs” like FFA, Toastmasters (which exists to help you be a better communictor), and “just doing it”, as you suggest above.

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