Leadership Development in a Nutshell

A major part of any ministry (or work environment) is leadership development. This task can feel quite overwhelming. We wonder where we should start and how we should proceed.

But I recently found a simple description of leadership development that helped clear away the clutter in my mind. This definition boils down leadership development to specific terms and stages I can get my head around. I hope you will find it helpful, too.

Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird (2010) cite this summary of leadership development from Jon Ferguson:

  • I do. You watch. We talk.
  • I do. You help. We talk.
  • You do. I help. We talk.
  • You do. I watch. We talk.
  • You do. Someone else watches.
  • The cycle now repeats for both people.

That’s it. Plain and simple.

What do you think?

Stetzer, E., & Bird, W. (2010). Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Output requires input.

The more input, the more output

Pour water in a cup and eventually it will overflow.

Output follows input naturally.

But we are a culture obsessed entirely with output. We look at numbers. We analyze sales. We count heads. We tally wins.

Focusing exclusively on output can lead us down rabbit trails and away from, ironically, further output. For the secret of output is input.

It’s not enough to run harder. You must also rest more and eat better. You must put into your body at least as much as you are hoping to get out. You can obsess over the stopwatch all you want, but without proper rest and fuel, you will not get faster.

Input takes courage. You must forsake obvious progress for real progress. You must forsake short-term advances and instead, retreat. You must step away and sharpen the saw. You must read. You must reflect. You must seek wise counsel. You must leave white space in your schedule.

You will feel idle when you do this. You will be tempted to think you’re wasting time. You will feel lazy. But as anyone who has overdone it knows, trying harder won’t cut it. Trying harder won’t get you where you really want to go. Sometimes the only way forward is the way back.

Focus on input. And the output will take care of itself.

Leadership Leap

Leadership requires a leap.

Much about leadership can be taught and gradually learned. But because leadership requires decisive action at critical junctures, you will encounter moments when you must leap. No half-steps.

Inevitably the moment will come when you must step up, step out, grab the microphone, make the bold move, stand your ground, say no, say yes, throw the ball, make the purchase, send the email, wave goodbye…

There’s no middle ground, no transition.

And there’s little training for these moments. It’s hard to practice a game-time decision. It’s hard to plan for an unplanned moment. So often you must simply leap. If you’re well-prepared the leap may be smaller, but you will need to leap nonetheless.

In these moments, character leads the way.


Experience can do one of two things. It can either make you a worse critic or a better helper.

You can take your knowledge and experience and judge others. You can say how you wouldn’t have done it that way. You can critique every last detail. You can puff up your own ego because you’ve identified where someone else has failed.


Continue reading Experience