Tag: leadership development

6 Leadership truths we can learn from Legos


That’s the number of pieces in the Lego set my son and I are building. It’s called the Death Star, and it’s even more epic than I anticipated. He saved his money for a long time to get it, and it hasn’t disappointed. Every single day, Rex asks if we can build a little more of it. So naturally, I’ve used it as the hook to “finish your homework then we can build a little.”

All 4016 pieces...with one happy boy

All 4016 pieces…with one happy boy

I love the time spent with my son, using our minds and our hands together. It’s good for his development, and for mine. It’s good for our relationship. And I’ve found that we can have meaningful discussions about the most important things in life while we’re working together…even more so than if we were to sit down and have a face-to-face talk. Boys seem to respond better talking side-by-side.

But enough about that.

Did you know that you can learn a little about leadership development* from Legos? (actually, you can learn a bit about leadership from almost every aspect of life if you look for it)

6 Leadership Development Truths Legos teach

1. They don’t build themselves. No Lego set has ever spontaneously built itself.

No person has ever built themselves either. There are no truly self-made men/women. We are all a product of the communities where we live: our city, our church, the 5 people closest to us, our small group, our hobbies, our experiences, etc.
If you want to grow in your leadership, surround yourself with people who lead like you want to lead.

2. It’s as much about the process as it is the destination. We’re having as much fun building the set as we will ever have with the set once it’s “done.”

Development happens in the doing, not simply in the “learning.” It’s as you lead that you learn to lead. Books, seminars, and Ted talks can only take you so far. I’ve heard it said that “community” is both a goal and the means of achieving the goal, of the Church. The same is true of leadership development.
Leadership development is both the goal and the means of achieving it.

3. The destination is vital. Without instructions, the Lego set is a bunch of mismatched pieces.

Knowing what you’re developing towards is important, otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels. But when you have a destination in mind, it gives you the freedom to know what to say yes to…and what to turn down. It points you in the direction you need to go. We are all lumps of clay in the hand of the potter, who makes of us something beautiful and useful, giving our daily grind purpose and meaning.
Without a destination, you’ll hit it every time.

4. Improvisation is crucial. We’ve lost so many of those pieces. And a blue 2×2 just adds character where a light gray 2×2 should be.

Leadership development is not simply a series of formulas you follow. You can’t check all of the boxes and magically be developed. The development happens as you improvise throughout life. That’s called wisdom.
Leadership is a purpose-driven art.

5. There’s a special tool for when you make mistakes. I love that Lego assumes you’ll make mistakes.

IMG_6019Our development will be fraught with mistakes. And there’s a tool we need day after day after day: grace. Grace for others. And grace for ourselves. Grace that we’re not perfect, nor will we ever be. (there’s also a proactive tool to help us make fewer mistakes: constantly learning)

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

6. It’s never done. There’s always another piece you can add to make it more awesome. And over time it breaks down, revealing more holes.

Leadership development isn’t a “thing” you put on your to-do list. It’s a process that changes throughout life, in different seasons, ups and down, highs and lows. Different seasons expose different weaknesses that invite more development.

Have the end in mind, but remember that the best leaders are always in development.

*another word for “leadership development” is discipleship. Because we’re called as followers of Jesus to be disciples, constantly learning and growing in the way we know, love, follow, and lead others to do the same.


Insecure, lazy leadership

image credit: CreationSwap User Matt Gruber (edits mine)


There’s a buzz going around about ‘releasing people to _____.’ You can insert any of the following words in that blank:

  • lead
  • serve
  • start projects
  • launch ministries
  • do their job

On the surface, this sounds noble. It sounds like you’re fighting the dreaded “micromanagement,” a 4-letter word in churches, businesses, and any organization trying to move forward. Micromanaging is not the way to create a culture of healthy growth for leaders. It does not produce future leaders, nor leave current ones thrilled by any stretch of your imagination.

“We’re releasing people to _____” also sounds like you’re intentionally giving leaders the chance to lead, ensuring that you don’t box people into a  proverbial box…or a glass case of emotion, if you prefer. No leader worth their weight in homemade laundry detergent (it’s cheap…trust me) wants to be boxed in…so “release them to _______!”

My concern

I have concerns about this line of thought. Though it sounds noble, I’m afraid that in many cases this is just a mask for ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’ or ‘I am not really willing or able to put time into developing leaders.’ Instead of truly being a noble move, it covers over deeper issues of incompetency (I don’t know what I’m doing, myself), inadequacy (I’ve not been trained at all, myself), or insecurity (I’d rather people not know that I don’t know how to lead them).

Turning someone loose to lead doesn’t mean you abandon them. If you want them to help fulfill the vision for your organization, leaders need direction, oversight, and development. “Management” may not be popular, but it’s vital.

Let’s be fair

It’s organizationally unfair to “release someone to serve” if they haven’t properly developed. It’s not fair for the individual, who’s been thrown in over their head. It’s also not fair for the organization, who now has a leader in place without the necessary tools, and who’s not trusted to lead.

It’s okay to “release people to _____,” but don’t neglect development. Spend great care developing your leaders. The time, money, and resources you spend on development will reap huge dividends.

In the small group world where I operate, I’ve said this phrase, too. I have nuanced it like this: “I’m allowing group leaders to be the shepherds of their group.”

But I didn’t do a great job of developing leaders over time. So that’s going to change.

With our newly implemented coaching structure, combined with our leadership development pathway, we’ve made some major changes. Instead of having trainings as isolated events, they’re connected, increasing in depth through each step. This allows us to take a new leader from “I have no idea what I’m doing as a small group leader” to coaching other group leaders into deeper spiritual health.

We want to be able to “turn leaders loose” in good conscience, trusting them to lead their groups with great effectiveness. To do this, we’ve got to do our part of helping them develop.


Ever heard the phrase, “We’re releasing people to _____.”?

Ever seen it as an excuse for laziness?

* image credit: CreationSwap User Matt Gruber (edits mine)


A New Leadership Development Pathway

We’ve constructed a new leadership development pathway for our small group leaders at Grace Community Church.

I talked about it on a guest post I wrote for Matt Steen right HERE.

Here’s a video that I put together for our leaders, with help from Dustin York and Brian Coleman. *Make sure you watch about the 1:50 -2:05 mark for a cool effect that we incorporated.


Finding New Leaders

I was given the great opportunity of leading a couple of breakout sessions at the RightNow Conference in Dallas, TX, this year.

Before the official conference launched, there was a pre-conference experience focused on small groups.  With over 300 people in attendance, it is, as far as I know, the largest gathering of (mixed model) small group point leaders in the country.  And I’m convinced that the future of the small group movement sat in those rooms, bounced ideas off of each other, networked, and were challenged.  And not challenged just to follow one small groups model, but to implement the ideas in their local church context.

I shared my thoughts on finding new small group leaders.  I foolishly thought that this would be a lightly attended breakout session…until I remembered that almost every small groups pastor I talk with shares the same struggle of finding new small group leaders.

Here are my notes from my breakout session, followed by my slide presentation.

Finding New Leaders

If you don’t have a leadership deficit (meaning you never have trouble with needing new leaders), then you may just have an evangelism deficit.  So you having a leadership deficit points to the fact that you’re likely doing the hard work of evangelism, inviting those who are from from God to enter community.  It also points to the fact that you’re casting the vision for small groups well, because so many people are ready and willing to jump into group life.

Leadership deficits are a tension to be managed, not a problem to be solved.

Here are 5 principles that I use in finding new leaders:

  1. Lower the bar.  The lower you drop the bar, the easier it will be to find new leaders.  The higher you raise it, the more difficult it will be.  Finding the balance is key.
  2. Work on your vocabulary.  Make sure the language you use when you describe your small groups doesn’t intimidate potential leaders.
  3. Your lead pastor must be your greatest small group champion.
  4. Remove other competing systems that will take potential leaders away from small groups.  Even leaders will often choose the easiest path.
  5. Define your win.  The “win” in your small groups system may look different than in mine, but you’ve got to know what a “win” looks like so that you can be clear with potential group leaders.

10 places to find new leaders

  1. Apprenticeship – though this model produces new leaders who are fully ready to go when their feet hit the ground, getting those feet to hit the ground often takes too long.  Depending on this model alone lends itself to a high leadership deficit in growing churches.
  2. In current groups as they’re ending – have a conversation with the small group leader(s) as their group is wrapping up, and ask them who in the group could potentially lead in the future.  The trouble with this, though, is that group leaders often hesitate to take risks on unproven leaders.
  3. Steal from other churches – yeah…this was just a joke that I shared that nobody laughed at.
  4. “There’s not a group that works for me…” When you get this response from people, ask them if they’re willing to lead a new group.
  5. Start new types of groups – we started a small group aimed at new believers, opening up the door for potential leaders who, previously, didn’t see themselves fitting into our small groups system.
  6. Shame people into leading – joke #2.  Bomb #2.  It was 1:00…people were tired…and didn’t feel like even giving me a courtesy laugh.
  7. Staff members – are there staff members that could lead a group?
  8. Avoid burnout – give leaders a season(s) off from leading.  In that process, they can become refreshed, ready to re-enter group life when life slows down.
  9. Get people around a table – have a group of people that all want to meet on the same night, on the same side of town?  Bring them together and lead them through the process of picking a group facilitator.
  10. Alignment – the shorter length of time, inviting of friends and neighbors, and being handed a curriculum to start out with make this a great way to find new leaders that haven’t stepped up to the plate before.

Here are my slides:

Got any other principles or ideas to add?

© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑