Where Do You Find Additional Shepherds?

start looking 30 years before you need them

One of the joys of our last interim in Maury City, Tennessee, was seeing the faith, works, and gratitude of Christian farmers.  They are men and women who operate big businesses.  Farmers study, learn, invest, plant, fertilize, and pray to the Lord to give increase.  After an abundant harvest, they thank Him when He blesses them.  They share their increase.  Sowing and reaping are not just something they read about in the Bible.  They experience it every day.

The same principle works in leadership development.  We are blessed or deprived depending on how well we cooperate with or ignore God’s immutable laws of sowing and reaping.

[tweetthis]Each congregation has the leadership it wants and deserves, leadership it has trained and prayed for.[/tweetthis]

How is that done in a practical way?

One of the best examples I’ve seen was at the Central Church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia, when I worked with them.

Each year, the elders asked the deacons to select a Deacon of the Year.  This was powerful!  The elders weren’t picking their best friend or brother-in-law.  The deacons were selecting one of their own and saying in the selection, “This year, here is the man who exhibits the qualities of a special servant in this congregation in Dalton, Georgia.”

The results of this self-evaluation was announced at a banquet.  The elders, deacons, preachers, and spouses gathered at a restaurant.  A guest speaker was invited who would compliment and challenge.

One or more of the elders expressed appreciation to all the deacons for their service during the previous year.  The climax of the night was the presentation of the Deacon of the Year award.  The Deacon of the Year was presented a plaque and was reminded he was selected by his fellow deacons as one who exhibited excellence in service.

The elders then asked the deacon to return the plaque to them.  They would present it again on Sunday morning before the whole congregation, telling them about the banquet, the Deacon of the Year award, and how this person was selected.  He then took the plaque home to be reminded of how God had blessed him with opportunities to serve and how he had responded with faithfulness.

In addition to the banquet and the plaque being presented twice, this deacon was invited to attend elders’ meetings during the next year.  This Deacon of the Year could add items to the agenda and make comments and suggestions during the elders’ meetings.  He was not an elder but he observed how the elders worked together.  It wasn’t a surprise to me in a few years, when additional shepherds were selected, many of them were men who had been recognized as Deacon of the Year.

Farmers know you don’t plant corn and cotton and expect to gather and pick them in two weeks.  Wise shepherds plan decades before for the leadership of the local church.  I believe each congregation has the leadership it wants and deserves — the leadership it has trained and prayed for.

[tweetthis]We reap what we sow. We reap more than we sow. We reap in proportion to what we sow — in leaders.[/tweetthis]

What suggestions do you have for sowing leadership seeds?

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