Yesterday I got another email from a person in my past. No, they weren't confronting me with some past sin or failure. They were thanking me for the role that I played in their life that encouraged them. I haven't seen this woman in years, and haven't worked with her since 1989, but she became the fourth person in the past 10 days to write me "out of the blue." Some who wrote I haven't even seen for 25 years.
I've been thinking about these emails and remembered an old Chinese proverb that states:
If your vision is for a year, plant wheat.
If your vision is for ten years, plant trees.
If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.
Part of my concern for the Church today is that I don't see a lot of leadership development taking place. Leaders may or may not provide opportunities for people to be developed through programs within the church. They may oro may not encourage people to develop themselves, but for the most part, the Church is lacking in leaders who duplicate themselves. Why is this?
Here are some reasons I can think of:
1. It's often not part of the leader's job description, therefore he (or she) doesn't invest time doing it;
2. Leaders are too busy doing other things;
3. Leaders don't want to develop other leaders who could become "competition";
4. Leaders see the job as someone else's responsibility -- a seminary, other churches, colleges, business, John Maxwell, leadership conferences;
5. Leaders don't know how to develop other leaders because no one developed them;
6. A faulty understanding of Ephesians 4:12 where leaders are told that their job is to "prepare God's people for works of service";
7. We think in terms of 5 or 10 years, thus we plant wheat and trees instead of people. We build buildings and develop programs and do almost anything else except develop people.
Moses developed Joshua, Barnabas developed Saul, and Paul developed Timothy. Who are you developing? Into whom are you investing time and effort to develop as a future leader?
Write me to list any other reasons you can think of as to why we aren't developing more leaders today. Feel free to tell me what you're doing to develop "plant people" as well. If you have nothing to write, then write someone to thank them for their investment in your life and then get busy finding someone into whose life you can do the same.