It’s All a Part of the Process
Good morning from the sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny Managua, Nicaragua! We are nearing the end of the rainy season, which typically means more rainy days than sunny days.
Over the past two weeks, I have written about the need to “die to self” as a leader. Another important lesson about leadership that God has been teaching me over the past month, including my time at the Catalyst Conference, is the fact that becoming a leader is a process. In fact, I would go as far as to say, we must be willing to live into the leadership development process to truly become an effective leader. At Catalyst, one of the speakers, Perry Noble, said, “There is no progress in leadership unless we embrace the process.” He went on to talk about the need to get past the desire to be “discovered” and allow God to develop us where we are, in His timing. Noble gave the example of David and the process God took him through after he was anointed as the next King of Israel, but before he actually took his post. In this time, there was an important leadership development process (i.e. – David and Goliath) that God used to prepare David to lead His people. In embracing this process, David was able to develop into the leader God created him to be, albeit not perfect, and knew that it was God who had put him there, not his own strength.
David’s story is not the only example of a leadership process that we see in the Bible. In Matthew 4:19, we read, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men” (NIV 1984). If you are not familiar with this passage, this is when Jesus calls his first disciples, Peter and Andrew. In the next verse it says they dropped everything and followed Jesus. So, did they immediately become expert “fishers of men” and leaders of The Way, the original name of Christianity? The short answer is no. Jesus took them and ten of their, soon to be, closest friends on a three year leadership development journey. If we follow the life of Peter over that three year period, we can see that he was not yet prepared to be the leader Jesus was calling him to be. Through many ups and downs, including denying Jesus himself, Jesus took Peter from being a no-name fisherman on the Sea of Galilee to someone who would one day stand in front of thousands of people and boldly declare the truths of Christ and His resurrection. I would argue, without the three year leadership development process and the gift of the Holy Spirit, which continued to develop him, Peter never would have become the leader we proclaim him to have been.
So what does this mean for us? First, it means being willing to embrace the process, even if it is frustrating and seems slow. In a world that is ever increasing in speed and convenience, this can be difficult, but that doesn’t diminish the value of it. If we are not willing to live into the process, we may miss some of what God is trying to teach us and use to prepare us to be the leaders He created us to be. Second, we need to be faithful to where God has us now. At times, this can be challenging as we can see certain tasks as beneath us. When this starts to enter my mind, I remind myself how glad I am that Jesus didn’t see coming to earth and dying for me as beneath Him, despite that fact that He is God. When we are faithful with a few things, there is a much greater chance that we will be faithful with many when the time comes. I believe it is important ask yourself, “If I can’t lead well at this level, what makes me think I will be able to lead well at the next?”
This has been very true in my life. Through years of leading Young Life at Franklin High School in Reisterstown, MD, God shaped and developed me. Over the ten years I lead, there were some very lean times and I was tempted to give up, but God called me to remain faithful and taught me important leadership lessons. Through leading at Crossroads Community Church and in various business capacities, God has continued to develop and refine me. Looking back now, I can see how God was preparing me for my time in Nicaragua and how important the process has been. Even now, I believe God has me in the development process for whatever He has next for me. If I am honest, there are still times when I want to hit the fast-forward button, but I know that in the end that would only stunt my growth as a Follower of Christ and a leader. It is my knowledge of God’s faithfulness to the process that allows me to continue to be faithful.
Where are you in the process today? This could be one of the most important legs of your journey so don’t miss the chance to embrace it. That is my hope for me today. I hope it will be for you too.
– James Belt