Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

Wired for Influence

How to transition from attracting followers to reproducing leadersc-KingdomeCulture

Have you paused to consider that you’re pastoring the first generation in history that doesn’t need leaders to get information? When you see your folks on Sunday, many have been online, finding all kinds of other pastors, authors and zealots and obtaining all sorts of information. Even though people no longer need us for information, they do need us for interpretation as we help them navigate the barrage of information they consume each week.

My concern is that we, the leaders of the church, have either misunderstood the biblical idea of leadership or we’ve dismissed it as “secular” or “fleshly.” We’ve read the Bible with a “follow-ship” bias and missed the call from God across the Old and New Testaments to lead.

Look again at the book of Genesis, where we read familiar words: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image.” Just what does that mean? We receive a clue to a part of its meaning in the next phrase: “and let them rule” 
(Gen. 1:26, NIV).

To be made in God’s image is to be given the capacity to lead and rule. God is the ultimate leader over creation, and He’s delegated a portion of it to us. From the beginning, we’ve been called to lead. In fact, most of history is the story of people pursuing and perverting this calling, from Nero to Stalin to Hitler to Saddam Hussein. But those counterfeits remind us: There must be something real about the call to lead.

We have made it about titles and positions when it’s really about positively influencing others. Jesus never held an official position. He laid aside His divine rights (see Phil. 2:5-8) and influenced through serving (see Matt. 20:25). His approach to life and to people moved others to follow Him. Good leaders leverage their influence for a kingdom cause.

In one of Jesus’ earliest calls to His disciples, He said, “Follow Me, ... and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). He meant, if you stay with Me long enough, I’ll transform you into an influencer of people. Mature believers are not only followers of God, but leaders of men. 

I began serving as a pastor in 1979. At the time I knew nothing about leadership. In fact, it wasn’t even a category in my mind. I just loved God, the Word and the people. Along the way, my idealistic assumptions about people evaporated. While those folks claimed to love God too, they weren’t easy to lead. In fact, you might say they acted like “sheep without a shepherd.”

Sadly, their shepherd knew little about leading. It wasn’t until I went on staff with John C. Maxwell in 1983 that I began to see the significance of this issue. I witnessed the power of combining a Spirit-filled, Bible-believing church family with a secure, visionary leader. What an amazing combination.

From that point on, I wanted to follow Jesus more closely and learn to lead more effectively. In four years, my college department grew from an average of 60 students on Sunday to more than 600 students. I don’t think it’s because my teaching and preaching got any better or God suddenly smiled on us, but because I learned to lead and to reproduce other leaders.

One of the deepest needs in the church today is for healthy, effective, life-giving leaders who multiply other leaders along the way. I’ve committed my life to developing a new generation of leaders. Will you join me?


Tim Elmore is founder and president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit organization that develops emerging leaders. A graduate of Oral Roberts University, he has written more than 20 books, including the best-selling Habitudes.

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Graveyard

    An Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

    There are eight common patterns to look for.

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

  • The Key to True Power

    The Key to True Power

    Jesus overturned every worldly idea about power when He introduced the concept of servant leadership.

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Do yourself and her a favor. Take the target off your pastor's wife's back.

    Why Pastors' Wives Have a Target on Their Back

    Here are three instances of what we are doing to the wives of God's servants sent to ...

  • The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic.

    5 Qualities to Seek in the Heart of a Leader

    The hope here is that you would reflect on your own leadership and consider your own heart as a ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders