At some point, most small-group leaders feel very overwhelmed and under-qualified for the task at hand. In those moments, we are aware of the need to develop our leadership ability. But those moments come and go, and developing our own leadership capacity often gets put on the back burner. And even when we do have the desire to improve our leadership skills, we often don't know where to start. What tools will help?
Dave Earley has taken a really good shot at making leadership development doable with his new book, The Small Group Leader's Toolkit. He also makes the case through personal stories and examples that leadership development is a high priority. It's worth the investment of your time and energy.
Dave has been very hands-on with small-group leadership and ministry over the years, both in the local church and now in a teaching capacity at Liberty Theological Seminary. This book reflects his experiences in developing leaders. His stories and leadership development ideas are packaged into ten practical topics that he calls "power tools" for personal leadership development. (Conveniently, each tool begins with the letter P.)
Each chapter lays out a new tool, explores why the tool is vital, gives tips on how to overcome personal roadblocks you may have experienced in the past, and then gives ideas of how to successfully integrate that tool into your ministry. To make it even easier to use each tool, Dave has included helpful worksheets that contain unique, industrial-strength exercises.
Here's a quick summary of the ten chapters/power tools:
- Prayer. This is the most important task of a spiritual leader. Period.
- Personal Integrity. The process of becoming a leader of integrity includes consistent self examination, self-discipline, and self-reporting to a trusted accountability partner. It does not happen in a weekend, but through practice, discipline, and wise decisions.
- Passion. A leader's passion is that intense, driving, overmastering feeling or conviction. It stirs the emotions, affections, devotions, and decisions of a leader. A leader with mediocre skills but great passion wins out over one with great skills and no passion.
- Purpose. A leader with purpose sees potential opportunities when others see obstacles. They see the possibilities of the future when others only see problems. And, they see God in and through the whole process and the end product. Developing a purpose statement for yourself and your group is critical.
- Priorities. Establish small-group priorities through a process of evaluating, eliminating, estimating, and activating. Then, use the provided grid system to clearly see what to focus on—and more importantly, why you should focus on that priority.
- Planning. It is not complicated. A good plan takes into consideration only three major issues: destination, present location, and a road map. Successful spiritual leaders not only have God-given dreams and carefully laid plans, they take action to see those plans become a reality.
- People Skills. Relationships are just like bank accounts. Realize it or not, you have a relational account with every person within your sphere of influence. Every positive interaction makes a deposit in that account. Every negative dealing creates a withdrawal in that relational account. Leaders gather followers who are willing to be challenged as they continually make relational installments into them.
- Persuasion. When you want to PERSUADE someone, you spell it this way: Positive expectations, Exposure, Recognition, Significance, Unselfishness, Affection, Demonstration, and Encouragement.