Apart from my role in ministry, I’m also a leader in the secular world—or at least that’s what people tell me! Most days, I don’t consider myself a guy worth following, yet the Lord has had other plans: He’s made me responsible for the spiritual training of many, and now the professional development of some. While I haven’t purposefully sought promotion at my school, I’ve earned responsibilities and positions that my co-workers haven’t, by virtue of my efforts and personality. It’s a challenge to wear such mantels, but it’s also been an exciting adventure and positive affirmation that my education wasn’t wasted and that hard work pays off.
When my former principal asked me recently to visit his new manager-training program and give a lecture on leadership from a Christian perspective, I had to scramble a bit to think of what to say. I’ve only had my new position at the school for a short period of time, so I couldn’t very well speak from professional experience. But then I realized that, though I might be green in the area of secular management, I’m not in the area of spiritual mentoring and discipleship. If viewed properly, there can be a fine correlation between discipleship and management, and that’s where John C. Maxwell’s Developing the Leaders around You comes in.
At the writing of this book, Maxwell was both the Senior Pastor of a mega-church and the president of a leadership organization, giving him both the spiritual and secular experience needed to write a book like this. He writes in his opening pages that leadership is not a matter of having many followers but rather surrounding oneself with and building up other leaders. (2) This is the essence of something as dear to my heart as church-planting, and the principles he lays out here, which mirror my own experience, now form the hub of my lecture’s talking points.
Maxwell splits his ten chapters into a process that moves from initial soul-searching to ultimate ideals in leadership development. The chapter topics can be paraphrased this way: If you’re a leader raising leaders (1), you must now create a climate for growth (2) for leaders you’ve identified (3) whom you desire to nurture (4), equip (5), and develop (6) into a “Dream Team” of leaders (7) which you can then coach (8) for mutual benefit (9) so they can go out and do the same (10).
Not one to plagiarize, I didn’t merely copy out his chapters for my lecture and call the information my own! Hardly! Instead, I thought through the process of leadership development in my own experiences and in the terms of an NBA team, that it depends first on the leader being a great Coach, and secondly on having Players who are worth developing. Thus I broke my lecture down into three sections: The Coach, The Players, and what turned out to be a very hearty Q&A. I peppered my lecture with ideas and illustrations from Maxwell’s book (for example, his references to geese and draft-horses), and I used several of his chapters as springboards for my own discussions (for example, “Identifying Potential Leaders”), but otherwise my lecture was an organic outgrowth of my own ministerial experience as it applies to a business structure.
I enjoyed immensely the process of developing a secular lecture based off spiritual principles—after all, the process of 2Timothy 2:2 is perhaps the most pristine example of leadership development in the Bible—and John C. Maxwell’s book played a huge part in giving my lecture the meat it needed to be successful. I was sure to acknowledge where I got many of my ideas, and I do so again here and now. I’m grateful for the excellent information he provides here.
Like many of his other books, this one is also filled with quips and steps and lists that can’t all be digested in one quick sitting. This book needs time to ferment, so it might be a good chapter-per-day read for your own professional development. Specifically helpful for my own growth were his sections on mentoring and delegation. I recommend this book to those in leadership roles, whether secular or ministry.