What I Look for In Potential Leaders

Many people have said that young or aspiring leaders should be FHAT: Faithful, Humble, Available and Teachable. I think that’s true, but there’s something else that I look for. It flows from each of the FHAT characteristics, but goes even further.

It’s something I look for and admire in all people, but I think it’s especially important for potential leaders. When it comes to aspiring pastors or church planters (and I’m around many in our Pastoral Residency Program), this quality is crucial.

Potential Leaders

I’m looking for leaders who display hunger and initiative for learning.

Good leaders are learners.

Great leaders, however, are hungry and proactive learners.

I’m looking for leaders who:

  • are confident, but aren’t know-it-alls.
  • know that it’s cheaper to learn from others’ mistakes than their own.
  • initiate meetings to learn from those who are strong where they’re weak.
  • are eager to read, listen to messages and attend conferences.
  • can learn from people outside of their “tribe” or perspective.

Recently our Student Ministry Director approached a retired school teacher about meeting because he wants her to help him think through how to engage his students with a love for reading.

An aspiring church planter recently wanted to meet with me and came prepared with a list of questions he needed help with.

A relatively new pastor offered to take me to dinner if I’d listen to one of his sermons and give him feedback (I’m still working on it).

Another young man asked me if he could have our preaching schedule and a list of recommended commentaries so that he could study the passages in depth before hearing me preach about them.

These are leaders who I know will succeed and who I’m happy to invest in.

Are you a leader like this?

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.

8 thoughts on “What I Look for In Potential Leaders

    1. I’m mostly writing for pastors and ministry leaders, which is why I used those examples. Either way, I think the principle applies. Whether in sports, business or teaching, the people I’d get most excited to invest in are those who are hungry and show initiative to learn rather than thinking they already have all the answers.

  1. Perspective is truly an amazing thing. I feel that the best leaders are also great at having the ability to put their view/vision/stance on the side in order to completely understand and appreciate the perspective of others around him/her. If this can be accomplished, it’s amazing how much more prepared we are to better serve, lead, and in some cases follow (the best leaders are also willing to be lead).

  2. Very true! I know that’s something I have always appreciated about Joe in leading our family, leading our church in CA, or his jobs managing. He has always been a learner, and always open to being spoken into. He is so humble and always looking to grow, and he is a great leader!

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