If you’re serious about creating a system for developing mentors, you’ll need to learn how to begin identifying leaders. Not everyone in your church is potential leadership material. Even if they are, they’re not all at the same stage of development.
Here are ten things to look for in prospective leaders:
1. They’re persuasive
Leaders are influential.
One of the most telling signs of innate influence is an ability to effortlessly draw people in and build consensus. When you recognize someone whose words carry their own natural import, that’s a huge sign that they have some leadership potential.
2. They’re ready to get involved
Leaders aren’t wallflowers—they like to be in the center of the action.
You’re looking for someone who has more to offer than excellently articulated ideas; you’re looking for someone who can’t wait to jump in and effect some change. If you have someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and get involved, you have yourself a potential leader.
3. They plan for things to happen
Leaders are strategic.
They aren’t simply dreaming up potential dream scenarios—they’re making plans to bring them to fruition. It’s just as important to be able to create a clear path to your goal as it is to articulate exactly what that goal looks like.
4. They take initiative
Leaders don’t wait for instructions.
It can be difficult for established leaders to recognize future leaders because it can be kind of frustrating to feel like you always have to rein this individual in. But that desire to jump in and get to work signals a real leader—even if their maturity level makes it hard for them to remember protocol.
5. They’re not looking for personal benefit
Leaders don’t want glory.
If you ask for them to take part in a new venture, they’re not trying to figure out what they’re going to get out of it. They’re not trying to finagle a benefit to themselves, and they’re not trying to get honor and attention from it. They’re more interested in how they can be effective and useful.
6. They’re punctual
Leaders respect others.
Nothing indicates sensitivity to others faster than punctuality. I’m not saying that potential leaders are never late, but if they’re perpetually tardy and always have an excuse for why they couldn’t make it on time, it communicates something about how they view others. It might not be a deal breaker, but it’s definitely a picture of a greater problem.
7. They’re patient
Leaders aren’t controlled by their emotions.
I know that the culture has a habit of exalting the leadership styles of people who are forceful and volatile, but that’s not what we’re looking for in church leadership. Obviously, you want leaders to display all the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23), but patience is important at the outset because explosive people can really damage others in the church.
8. They have some biblical understanding
You can be a great leader and have a limited understanding of Scripture, but you’re looking for potential Christian leaders. Their biblical understanding isn’t necessarily a litmus test; it’s a sign that they prioritize the Word’s place in their life. After all, we’re ultimately looking for people who correctly handle the word of truth (1 Timothy 2:15).
9. They’re not complainers
Leaders are problem solvers.
One of the surest signs that someone has leadership potential written all over them is how they respond to challenges. One of the characteristics that separate leaders from others is that they’re active. They don’t respond to problems by bellyaching about them. They figure out ways to deal with the issue and move forward.
10. They don’t gossip
Leaders protect the people they serve.
Gossip is one of the ways that weak people build alliances. Leaders don’t have to build relationships by identifying and harping on common enemies or the faults of others. One sure way to recognize leaders is that they can always be found talking up others—not bringing them down.
Recognizing Leaders Is the Best Part of Mentoring
Few things are more fun than learning to recognize leaders in their raw, unfinished state. When they’re discovered and introduced into your mentorship program, you can create exponential growth by training them to recognize leaders, too.