Secrets of a Radical Leader
Secrets of a Radical Leader
THE RADICAL LEADER
The day of ordinary youth ministry is over! Gone. Dead. Never coming back! There is a fork in the road before every leader who endeavors to impact his generation. One path is the way that heralds us to reach the lost at any cost, including compromising on issues of holiness, principle, and repentance from sin. The other path, less traveled for sure, is the path committed to preaching the cross, insisting on encounters with the Holy Spirit, investing in the leaders of tomorrow, and living a life of complete integrity before God. This is the path totally devoted to Christ in every dimension. This is the path of the radical leader.
You may ask, “Why can’t we do both?” Because both cannot exist together in the same person! You must choose one. Either you will love your father, mother, brother, and sister more than you love Jesus, or you will love Jesus more than you love all others. This is the gauntlet that Christ took up in the walk of the cross, and He is asking us today to lay down our selfish ambition, shoulder our cross, and follow Him (Luke 14:26–27).
After thirteen-plus years in youth ministry, I have learned that the path of radical leadership is the only path that will lead to kingdom advancement and eternal fruit. The Lord has shown me time and time again that every other path of people-pleasing, popularity-chasing, or relevance-based leadership is nothing more than a sand castle that will be washed away by the waves of time and culture. To stand the test of time, a ministry must be uncompromisingly built on the truth of the Word of God, the importance of prayer, and the pursuit of holiness before God. These are not the standard-issue church-growth subjects for today, but as I’ve experienced firsthand, the old-school ways of doing things God’s ways are still the best ways!
My story in youth ministry began with wanting nothing to do with youth ministry. What a starting place! That desire (or lack thereof) has grown over the years into a raging fire of passion for this generation to be saved, healed, delivered, and released into their callings. I served as youth pastor under my father (Pastor Larry Stockstill of Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) for over ten years and saw nearly 100,000 salvations and as many as 7,800 students discipled weekly by a leadership core of 350 “captains” of 20-plus. This was a spiritual, harvest-minded juggernaut for Jesus that could not be stopped by any distraction or assignment of the enemy. These numbers are not given to impress you, but to implore you to see the validity of putting the Jesus style of ministry to work in radical prayer, evangelism, and discipleship.
Your community can be changed only through the Jesus style of radical ministry, and radical ministry can happen only through a radical leader. In turn, a radical leader cannot be birthed without a radical experience. I pray that this short book would inspire you to pursue that radical experience with Jesus and become a radical leader!
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
—Luke 5:16 NLT
The first and most important secret of a radical leader begins with a personal life of devotion and communion with the Lord. Being a radical leader in evangelism and discipleship without having in place the foundational element of prayer will lead to burnout, frustration, and open doors of temptation. Jesus began and ended His earthly ministry with prayer and continues His ministry as High Priest, making intercession for us day and night. If Jesus needed to walk in constant prayer, then how much more do we need to have this all-important element present and thriving in our own lives?
Years ago, the Lord highlighted to my heart Luke 5:16. This powerful verse has provided me with years of healthy guidance. In this chapter, I will communicate to you the revelation of this verse that has empowered me to maintain a successful devotional life with the Lord and carried me through all the many trials of my life (and there have been many!).
The report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.
—Luke 5:15 NLT
Jesus had a successful ministry. We know His ministry began after forty days of prayer and testing in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1–15), but now, one chapter later, things were happening in a way that no one could have imagined. In our modern-day world of ministry, this would have been the ministry of all ministries. Revival services, ministry trips, newsletters, partners’ dinners, and television shows would all have ensued. Yet Jesus was not in any way moved by His initial success. He did not allow success in ministry to keep Him from the priority of personal devotion and prayer with the Father.
Whether you have immediate success in ministry or great frustration, you have to remember the “but Jesus” statement. You cannot determine your prayer life based on emotion or the ups and downs of ministry. You have to establish prayer and personal devotion as a priority in your walk with the Lord. Never allow yourself to talk yourself out of this lifestyle. It has been my experience that the more time I spend with the Lord in prayer, the less time I have to spend administrating and making decisions.
As a dialysis patient for the last twenty years, I have spent every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in a clinic, having treatments done to keep me alive. This means I miss three prime workdays every week. From the beginning, I realized there was no way I could do everything I needed to do in order to move forward a ministry of thousands. This led me to the glorious, inevitable conclusion that without something supernatural happening on my behalf, I would never be able to accomplish the vision in my heart. This seeming handicap actually became an advantage by constantly reminding me of my need for God’s hand upon my life and ministry. I’ve known many leaders who were in the peak of health and worked a hundred hours a week, yet they could not even begin to keep up with the passion and explosive growth of what the Lord did through 220, Bethany’s youth ministry. The reason for this was simple yet required disciplined execution—prayer!
Many leaders get so caught up in the amount of time and the frequency they should devote to prayer that they end up giving up on the whole pursuit altogether. Notice the brilliance in God’s instruction to use the word often here in describing the frequency of Jesus’ times of prayer. Often is a relative term; it gives no actual clue as to the incidence or regularity of these times. It simply denotes something done more frequently than not. If the Word had said “daily,” “weekly,” or “monthly,” we would no doubt have made this a legalistic requirement and ruined the whole motivation for seeking the Lord. If it were daily, we would live in condemnation for not praying in this manner. If it were monthly, we would never be motivated to go beyond the stated amount. This is the nature of man.
Jesus lived a lifestyle of prayer and devotion. He lived a life of prayer and did ministry out of the overflow of that prayer life. What a different emphasis from what we see in so many modern-day attempts at ministry. Perhaps this is why we do not see the results that Jesus and the early apostles saw, because we do not go from one place of prayer to the next.
Two quick examples from the Bible illustrate this clearly. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob went from building one altar as a memorial to the Lord to the next. Their lives were lived between the altars. Peter was on the rooftop in prayer while waiting for his lunch (see Acts 10), and in this time of prayer, he had a vision that changed the whole course of the gospel. These two stories are simple illustrations of how a radical leader must be dependent upon the secret place of devotion for direction, insight, and creative ideas.
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
—Matthew 6:6 NLT
Scripture makes it clear that when we are ready to pray, we must retreat to a private place. As good as corporate prayer is—and it is a necessary element to explosive harvest in ministry—we cannot rely on corporate experiences as the foundation of our personal prayer lives. There is no substitute for time spent alone with the Lord.
What kind of marriage would last if the couple spent time together only in groups of people? In the dating phase, that works great, but after the covenant of marriage, the couple must spend quality time alone. When new believers are learning to pray, it can be of great benefit for them to pray in groups and learn the ways of devotion to the Lord. But as they grow into leaders, they must learn to rely more on those private times of intimacy with God.
The art of withdrawing does not simply mean to be alone. It goes beyond that. It means to be alone with the Lord with no distractions, which is no easy thing to accomplish in this day of constant entertainment and social media. Therefore, when you withdraw to be with the Lord, your phone needs to be turned off or placed in another room, and your computer cannot be alerting you to new e-mails. You cannot allow these disruptions to invade your time with the Lord. The great creativity and refreshing that come from being with the Lord will be completely sabotaged by these constant interruptions.
Getting a good night’s rest is important to your overall health and productivity; however, just being in the bed does not guarantee good rest. It is uninterrupted time spent in deep, restorative sleep that yields the benefit of a good’s night rest. Constant interruptions and getting up from the bed lead to the opposite effect. The next day, you will be even more exhausted because of the previous night’s constant interruptions. The same holds true with prayer.
I know that for many of you, finding this quality time and place is difficult and can even seem overwhelming and impossible. Nonetheless, you must press forward into the pattern of Jesus. One of the things that make radical prayer radical is its nature—it must be pursued! You must become radical about having quality time with the Lord Jesus. Refuse to be denied! Don’t try to be cool and trendy by going to Starbucks; nothing good will be conceived in a prayer time spent at Starbucks. Get alone with the Lord. Get in private where you can focus on Jesus. Find a place where you can weep, rejoice, dance, shout, and pour out your heart before God. This is the radical type of devotion that so many leaders today are lacking.
Refuse to bow your knee to busyness or lack of understanding about personal devotion. Get some good old schoolbooks on prayer by guys like E. M. Bounds and Leonard Ravenhill. Learn how to spend quality time with the Holy Spirit. He will give you the power to move mountains. He will reveal answers to seemingly impossible questions. He will keep you sensitive and humble before the Lord.
“TO THE WILDERNESS”
I believe the wilderness was the place that taught Jesus how to press into fellowship with the Father in the harshest of conditions. Just as people who are going through disappointing seasons in life tend to disconnect from the very place they should run to—the church—many leaders disconnect from the fellowship they so desperately need with the Lord when they go through dry or difficult seasons. A radical leader, however, is one who knows how to keep from getting distracted by seasons of plenty and how to press into the Lord when everything goes wrong. The wilderness teaches us how to keep our prayer life from being dictated by our emotions. Many leaders never learn this valuable lesson. They ride the winds of emotion and enjoy soaring prayer times when on the mountaintop, but when in the valley, their prayer times become sporadic at best.
The wilderness is never fun for us, but many times it provides greater usefulness than times of abundance. The Lord will lead us into these seasons in order to build our reliance on Him and condition our hearts for complete dependence on Him, no matter what the situation may be. Internal emotions and external circumstances cannot stop the prayer life of a radical leader. In fact, when things grow tougher in the natural, the radical leader will press into the things of God with greater tenacity.
What does this actual time spent in prayer look like? There are many models of prayer that have been demonstrated through the years, from the Lord’s Prayer to the tabernacle prayer model. The one you use is not nearly as important as actually developing an authentic prayer routine. I’m a fan of following the protocol of the tabernacle no matter which method of prayer you choose. Always enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Never try to go straight into the Holy of Holies without first giving God the honor and praise He deserves for saving, healing, and delivering you. Blessings of family, finances, health, and other good things in your life should be mentioned as much as possible to develop a sense of deep gratitude to the Lord.
Worship is a great step forward into the manifest presence of the Lord. Turn on some music and sing out a song of response to Him. Songs of adoration are best in this phase of approach. From there, you can read your Bible and meditate on Scripture, or pray in the Spirit. The important thing is that you move into a place of connection with the Lord. Rituals don’t work, but routine produces great liberty in the pursuit of His presence.
The final phase of radical prayer, and possibly the most important for the radical leader, is that of listening for the voice of the Lord. I call this “waiting on the Lord.” Isaiah encouraged us to wait on the Lord and listed all the amazing benefits of this lost art. Renewed strength, supernaturally mounting on wings as eagles, and running without weariness and walking without fainting are just a few of the incredible things that happen when we wait on the Lord.
You may ask, “What am I listening for?” Anything and everything! One word from the Lord can change everything. Sometime you will simply “be still and know that I am God.” Other times you will write so fast you can hardly keep up. Things birthed in this time of radical prayer will set the tone for the supernatural things to come.
You know the saying, “Four months between planting and harvest.” But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.
—John 4:35 NLT
As stated in the previous chapter, the foundation of all radical leadership begins in the place of personal prayer and devotion. The life of prayer will inevitably create a desire, expectation, and unquenchable passion to reach the lost, or what I call a burden. A burden for the lost is a missing ingredient in many NextGen ministers today. They have never truly caught the heart of Jesus for a lost and dying world.
The perspective of burden will cause you to focus less on lights and more on the altar, less on administration and more on unction, less on being cool and more on being effective. A strong, healthy burden for the lost is the great equalizer in your mission as a leader. It will keep you focused on what is important—people—and less concerned about things that will quickly pass away.
At the end of 2002, my father asked me to take over our youth ministry. I had been preaching to youth for a few years but had never assumed leadership. (There is a big difference between preaching and leading!) As I started my journey in this new dynamic of ministry, the Lord began to do something fresh in my heart. Out of my heart began to flow tears of compassion for this generation. Before, I had preached in order to be obedient to the call of God on my life; now, I preached to see a lost generation rescued from the plan of a wicked devil. This may all sound like semantics to you, but trust me when I say, there is a huge difference.
You may be asking, “What was the catalyst for this change?” It was definitely prayer. In my personal time with the Lord and in our corporate gatherings, the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me God’s heart for the multitudes of my generation who were lost and hurting. In Matthew 9:35, we see Jesus teaching, preaching, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Then verse 36 says, “He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (NLT). The Lord was birthing in me the heart of a shepherd. My job was not just to preach and teach, but to lead those who were helpless and confused to the place of God’s abundant love for them. What a difference this made!
Out of this season of about three months, the Lord initiated something so powerful and lasting within my heart that it burns even more brightly now than ever before. In fact, the reason I am writing this e-book is in response to the burden that I carry for reaching this generation. There is nothing I do that is not fueled by this burden. There is no “going through the motions” for me. This burden from God has taken over my life and bulldozed all ambition, self-pity, and desire for self-comfort. I challenge you today to seek God’s heart for an authentic burden. This is one of the greatest secrets of the radical leader.
COMMITMENT TO SOUL-WINNING
Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!
—1 Corinthians 9:16 NLT
As simple as this may sound, in order to be an effective radical leader, you must make a lifelong commitment to soul-winning. Don’t assume that just because someone is in the ministry, soul-winning is automatically his priority. Many are in the ministry but have no real commitment to the very mission they were originally given by Christ. Luke 19:10 declares, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (NLT). It is amazing how easily the ministry can become about everything but this simple mandate from Christ to seek and save the lost. This is why we must lay hold of that supernatural burden in our heart so that we do not miss the mark of ministry and find ourselves doing everything but the main thing we were commissioned to do.
Making a commitment to soul-winning means to focus your best energy, creativity, and resources on the end goal of seeing people brought to Jesus. Don’t plan services for weeks and then get to the end of the actual event and give no opportunity for the lost to repent. Never have a gathering where there could be lost souls present and not be faithful to issue an invitation to come to Christ. This seems like common sense, but in reality, this tragedy has become the norm rather than the exception. It takes a driving burden and strong self-discipline to follow through on the mandate to be a soul-winner. Soul-winners think about the lost when deciding to hold a gathering. They think about the lost in their sermon preparation. They ask the Lord to give them an anointing to break down every argument the enemy would use to stop the lost from laying hold of the eternal life Jesus died to give them. In the years to come, this will be an area that will distinguish leaders as radical.
As many times as I have ministered—and it has been hundreds of times over the years—I still must exercise a conscious discipline to “draw the net.” There is a force that constantly tries to pull us away from this driving mandate. It is the force of hell itself trying to abort the final step of seeing people delivered out of the grasp of the enemy and delivered into the hands of a loving Jesus. This call to salvation is the closing that you must pursue in order to be truly successful as a soul-winner. Don’t just tell people the good news of salvation and then leave things up to them. You have to compel them to come into the kingdom. Any salesman who doesn’t close the deal will be a starving salesman. Unfortunately, ministers of the gospel can just keep right on going, even when they have not closed the deal of salvation in years.
ENEMIES OF RADICAL EVANGELISM
The concepts discussed above seem like they would be pretty basic and understood as par for the course for any minister of the gospel. Unfortunately, many forces are at work to dissuade or distract us from the clear mandate of soul-winning. We will look at a few in order to cancel the assignment of the enemy and bring clarity to our mission.
Enemy #1: POPULARITY
The number one enemy of a straightforward ministry of soul-winning is the pursuit of popularity instead of the pursuit of souls for the kingdom. We live in a day where a celebrity culture has infiltrated the church in a devastating way. Many NextGen leaders have fallen prey to the deception of the enemy that being a leader is more about being liked by everyone than reaching those whom God has called them to reach with the gospel.
The desire for popularity will cause you to preach on things that people want to hear instead of preaching the truth they need to hear. Instead of dealing with issues of sexual purity, homosexuality, rebellion against authority, and abandoning all for the sake of the gospel, those with a popularity-driven ministry will take on trendy topics that have no bearing on eternity. The scarcity of altar calls and authentic encounters with the Holy Spirit is simply a by-product of not wanting to do anything that would appear weird, awkward, or the least bit confrontational. May God deliver us from this fleshly desire to be cool rather than reaching the lost with the message that caused our Lord and Savior to shed His blood!
ENEMY #2: COMPROMISE
“Reach the lost at any cost” has become a popular rallying cry for those who are willing to compromise the integrity of the gospel for the sake of attracting bigger crowds and gaining the approval of man. From playing filthy songs with profanity and direct references to sexual misconduct to video clips from inappropriate movies, the compromise of the NextGen ministry of today is appalling in many cases.
As a radical leader, you are called to lead in holiness. You are called to raise the standard higher than everyone else, not lower it to the depths of the world. Compromise is a subtle thing that comes in through the gateway of “relevance,” and before you know it, it takes you places you would have never thought possible. It has grieved me to see many leaders who were once so pure in their approach to the gospel become so similar to the world in their ministry approach that you literally cannot tell the difference between what they are doing and what the world is doing.
ENEMY #3: KEEPING EVERYONE HAPPY
There is a lie of the enemy that says in order to maintain peace, you have to keep everyone happy. Jesus sure failed at this! There will always be opposition to the preaching of the true gospel. All of the original apostles—with the exception of John, whom they simply banished because they couldn’t kill him—were martyred. Jesus was crucified on a cross. Nero beheaded Paul.
You will never preach the glorious gospel in all its power without offending and ruffling the feathers of the rebellious and religious. In fact, I’ll go a step further. If no one is mad, offended, or feels you are taking things too far, then you probably aren’t preaching the gospel in its raw form. Radical leaders may be affected in their emotions by the resistance and rejection of others, but they will never allow that to hinder them from charging full speed ahead with the good news that Jesus saves.
ZEAL FOR THE GOSPEL
This may be a little out of the box for you, but as a radical leader, you want some people to think that you are just a little too zealous. “Zeal for your house will consume me” was the statement made about Jesus in John 2:17 (ESV). If Jesus had zeal burning inside of Him for the things of God, then I want that same zeal to burn inside of me!
Zeal for the gospel will cause you to move forward when everyone else is running away. Zeal for the Lord Jesus will cause you to lose sleep in the night because of your desire to see a generation won for the Lord. Zeal for the church of Jesus Christ will motivate you to stand against all odds and overcome any obstacles to accomplish the mandate on your heart given by the Holy Spirit.
I pray that the same zeal that filled our Lord Jesus, His twelve apostles, the early saints in Acts, and those who have remained faithful over the last two millennia would invade your life today and cause you to burn with endless passion for the Messiah. Radical leaders are the ones who embrace God-given zeal for the Lord and demonstrate the fruit of that fire every day of their lives!
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:18–20 NLT
There is something about human nature that tends toward a default mode of wanting to do things for ourselves. From watching little children, we can see that from the earliest age, they want to do things for themselves. As leaders, many times our natural tendency is to want to do things ourselves and hold on to certain responsibilities far longer than we should. Jesus taught us otherwise. From the beginning of His ministry, He never endeavored to accomplish His heavenly mission on His own. He understood the power of teamwork. He understood the need for legacy. The avenue He chose to accomplish this was discipleship.
The final secret of a radical leader—and the climax of our instruction—centers on this all-important word: discipleship. We can define this word as discovery, training, release, and oversight of someone who can multiply our efforts. For some reason, God set up the universe in such a way that “one can chase a thousand, but two can chase ten thousand.” You will never be able to accomplish something supernatural for Jesus if you do not understand and tap into the power of discipleship. There is no lone ranger route to biblical success. There is no such thing as a personality that “just doesn’t do well with people.” Either you become an expert at finding those who are hungry and releasing them into their destinies, or you will not succeed in your own mission.
As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”
—John 1:47 NLT
A radical leader is one who is always on the lookout for talent. What does that mean? It means looking for people with unusual capability or potential. Solomon noticed Jeroboam’s unusual ability in 1 Kings 11:28: “Jeroboam was a very capable young man, and when Solomon saw how industrious he was, he put him in charge of the labor force” (NLT). It takes wisdom and discernment to recognize people of great potential. They come in all sorts of packages. They are rarely the football star or the most attractive person in the group.
In my leadership, I saw the development of new leaders (talent) as my highest priority. It was the thing that everything else had to cater to. Meetings, management, and even preaching were all secondary to finding the best new leaders and recruiting them into the discipleship process.
Finding the leaders of tomorrow requires spiritual sensitivity. As you pray and seek the Lord, you must ask Him to reveal those who have the ability to lead and the hunger to be developed. This leads me to the other side of the equation. Your part is finding out who has the potential to run with the vision and developing them into all they are called to be. Their part is summed up in one word—hunger. If they are not hungry for development, you are in for a miserable time.
When the Lord first began using me in a powerful way, many people asked me to mentor them. I was overwhelmed by this and went to the Lord in prayer about it. The Lord spoke something so clearly to my heart that it still rings in my spirit to this day. He said, “You must respond to the one quality that I respond to—hunger.” Wow! This made it easy. Could I really adequately respond to everyone who was hungry? Yes! As Scripture says, “They that hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled.” It is your obligation to fill the hungry. As a radical leader, your highest priority is to find and fill those who are hungry.
So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.
—Colossians 1:28 NLT
Every disciple needs training. There is no such thing as a ready-made disciple. Many times we mistakenly view leaders who come to us from another ministry as ready-made assets. Very rarely is this the case. They do not have your DNA, carry your vision, or share the same ministry philosophy. No matter how hard they may try to convince you that they are ready to lead, you would do well to give them a season to prove themselves and watch to see whether they develop your heart and vision.
For the most part, disciples come completely raw. In a best-case scenario, they have been won to the Lord through your evangelism efforts and now feel a loyalty to the vision God has placed in your heart (because without it, they would still be lost). There are two basic aspects of training that must take place with these disciples. One is the educational aspect. Through systematic curriculum and classroom-style teaching, new disciples learn basic principles and doctrine that provide a solid foundation for their walk as believers. This is where the modern church has put most of its emphasis, and it is the easy part of the discipleship process.
The hard part is one-on-one training, or as I like to say, the impartation of ideas, attitudes, and philosophy into the hearts of those new disciples. The difference between these two aspects can best be illustrated in a child being parented at home and educated at school. Sending a kid to school is the easy part. Birthing, feeding, raising, disciplining, and instructing a child is the hard part.
The radical leader does not shy away from the mandate of Christ to go and make disciples. It will require you to go out and reach those who are lost. It will require you to make these new converts into disciples who understand the mission of Christianity and become fruitful members of the body of Christ. This work will be arduous at first, but it will produce the results that we see in the New Testament. The early church leaders didn’t have cool lights or fancy sermon series to build the church. They relied on the power of the gospel to reach people. They used the Word of God to change and equip others for the work of the ministry (see Ephesians 4:11–13).
Once you have invested in a disciple, a point of release must eventually come. In fact, from the moment you begin the process of discipling someone, you should also begin the gradual process of preparing for their release. It may start with asking them to pray at a small group or to pick up someone for a service. Your goal is not to keep them indentured servants forever stuck doing mundane tasks, but to eventually release them in their areas of ability that uniquely advance the kingdom of God.
There are two pitfalls I have seen in this arena. First, people often ignore the training phase and just release people to do whatever needs done without giving them the proper training. This may feel good in the moment, but it will lead to disaster and discouragement for both you and the disciple who is prematurely released. The other side of the equation is leaders who keep people under their wings for too long and suffocate the gift of God in their lives by not releasing them. What kid would want to be held in his parent’s custody till age fifty? There comes a point in time when disciples need to spread their wings and fly. Even if they don’t want to step out, it is your job to motivate their faith to the point where they too can go and make disciples.
Forming disciples doesn’t mean forming friendships that become a crutch for either you or them. Your disciples are not supposed to be your only friends that you hold on to because you need their friendship. Yes, they can be your friends, but their role in the kingdom is more important than your having a friend. Don’t allow your disciples to become your little pets that get all the favor and hold positions of honor above everyone else. They have to be held to the highest standard. They must grow into the radical leaders that Christ called them to be. Jesus never babied His disciples, and neither should you.
The best way to ensure a healthy release of a leader is to establish a time line. Though the time line may need to be adjusted because of either setbacks or accelerated maturity, the only thing that matters is that you have a plan. This keeps things moving forward in a healthy way. You don’t want years and years to go by without your disciples moving out of the nest and starting their own lives of obedience to the Lord. It may be that everything is working smoothly under your leadership, but your disciples need to become mature and productive leaders at some point. Why not set that point and then meet for consistent updates on their development in regards to their proposed release into leadership? This is the heart of a radical leader at work to raise up and release other radical leaders into the harvest fields.
Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
—2 Timothy 4:2 NLT
No one ever comes to a place of not needing accountability and oversight—no one! Any disciples that you release must continue to receive guidance and be accountable. You can’t just say, “Okay, you’re ready” and then never talk to them again. You have to continue to pour into them in a manner appropriate to their new role. I have had disciples move on to be youth pastors for other churches, become senior pastors, or take over departments within our church, and in each situation, the responsibility of continued discipleship was different. For the most part, when you release others into a leadership position, they are going to need even more discipleship in the form of coaching. The job of a coach is rarely ever done.
Coaching is made up of three dimensions. Encouragement is the first and most important. This is the flour to your coaching cake. You must continue to encourage your disciples no matter what roles they move into, even if it is a position over you. Everyone needs encouragement, and words of encouragement are life and strength to your disciples.
The second dimension is that of instruction. The core of this is giving objective input on how to do things better: giving tips, sharing lessons learned from experience, and warning your disciples about potential problem areas. Disciples will grow most from this dimension of input. You should be willing and open to provide this insight for as long as they are eager to receive it.
The final dimension is rebuke. Rebuke deals with the character of an individual. Things like pride or perversion that creep into the life of a disciple must be addressed in a godly, loving way. It is not love to leave these areas of vulnerability open to the enemy. It is your responsibility to move with the love of Christ and gently bring alignment. Remember, you are not trying to lord authority over anyone, but simply to save them from heartache and potential shipwreck.
The life of a radical leader is an exciting one. The job is not easy, but the rewards are eternal. There is so much that I could say on each of these topics, but the goal is to stir your heart for more of Jesus and give you a taste of the thinking required to become the radical leader you were born to be. Visit youthpastoru.com for more training and impartation on the subject of youth ministry, leadership development, and becoming a radical leader!