I believe in leadership training. In fact, I teach D.Min. and Ph.D. courses in Christian leadership at Southeastern Seminary. From the gospel of Mark, though, here are eight experiences all Christian leaders need even apart from educational training:
- We need to hear Him calling us. For some of the disciples, the call was, “Leave your boat behind and follow me” (Mark 1:17). Your calling may be different, but all of us who lead need to know we do it because of His calling.
- We need to be with Jesus. He called His disciples for that purpose first, followed by their preaching and dealing with demons (Mark 3:13-15). If you’ve not first been with Jesus, you’re really not in a position to do anything else in ministry.
- We need to be in a storm that forces us to trust Jesus. That’s where Jesus put His disciples when He sent them across the sea (Mark 4:35-41). This kind of storm reveals our faith (or lack thereof) and the power of Christ. Every leader needs these reminders.
- We need some ministry victories. Jesus sent out His disciples, and they saw demons flee and sicknesses disappear (Mark 6:12-13). Our victories may not be as dramatic, but we need a glimpse of His glory once in a while to press on in ministry.
- We need to hear Jesus say, “You take care of the problem.” That’s what He told His disciples when 5000+ people needed food (Mark 6:37). We need to be in places where our task is much, much bigger than we are.
- We need to be reminded, “You can’t do this without prayer.” Jesus’ disciples learned this truth the hard way when they tried to cast out a demon without praying (Mark 9:28-29). Many church leaders function in our own power enough that we need to hear these words directed to us.
- We need to learn that God’s kingdom is much bigger than we are. The disciples got stressed when they found somebody else outside Jesus’ group casting out demons, and they told him to stop – but Jesus taught them otherwise (Mark 9:38-40). The best leaders have learned that they’re only one among many.
- We need to look into an empty tomb. This time, Jesus’ followers were the women who went to the tomb to anoint His crucified body. There, the angel told them, “He is not here. Come see the place where they put him!” (Mark 16:7). We today see that empty tomb by faith, but we still must see it at least that way. Christian leaders without a genuine resurrection faith are not prepared to lead God’s church.
What other experiences would you add to this list?