My argument is simple. It is a Biblical responsibility of every Christian leader to get fully and actively involved in a leadership development.
Whether it is a matter of spiritual leadership (church) or organizational leadership (ministry), I cannot find one good reason for the existing leaders not to be engaged in the development of the future generation of leaders.
Gene Getz speaks of the spiritual qualifications for the church positions, as the Bible stipulates them, so that they can serve as pastors, shepherds and overseers. Indeed, the Bible discusses more the qualities than the abilities of a person for a ‘spiritual leadership.’ In First and Second Timothy, Paul discusses around twenty of these: spiritual and psychological maturity of an individual, temperament, habits, favor in the eyes of others, and so on. It does seem different from today’s praxis where we seek people for a ‘job’ and thus look for their qualifications, skills, and connections.
The Bible is not entirely specific about the ministry leadership qualifications, but we can discuss here the gifts, talents and abilities in addition to the local church membership, etc.
There is not much discussion about leaders’ responsibility in developing further leaders. But we see a lot of such activities taking place, especially in the apostolic times. Paul discusses new leaders, their mistakes, instructs them what to do and now to further develop other leaders, etc.
Whether we start with Thomas à Kempis, or consider Foster, Ortberg, Willard or Tozer and Bonhoeffer, we always come to the same conclusion. Jesus said in John 14:12 that “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” And our limits are only within our abilities to address the issues in life with spiritual disciplines. Great acts of power that Jesus promised to us, his disciples, require great character and this is what we need to grow slowly and daily. Our great inabilities are otherwise ‘fixed’ as Willard says as we focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, and through the practicing of spiritual disciplines.
So, here is my definition: leadership development as a form of discipleship that springs as a natural expression of who we are in Christ. We may say that each believer ought to be involved in discipleship. Using the same analogy, we may say that each Christian leader ought to be involved in a form of discipleship that is leadership development.
This activity has to be intentional and we ought to understand well a vision for it, to have an intention to carry it out and to apply means to achieve it at the end.
As Bonhoeffer speaks that prayer, meditation and study of the Bible are indispensable to the journey of faith, and that the whole ministry depend on it; the same is with leadership development, we may argue. No leadership development no future ministry. We will switch off the lights.
Ortberg speaks that following Jesus means learning from Jesus how to organize our lives around practices which enable one to ‘live in the fruit of the Spirit.’ In the next statement this author says that since a spiritual discipline is ‘any activity that can help me gain power to live as Jesus modeled and taught it.’
Therefore, there cannot be an exhaustive list of spiritual disciplines. Right?