Using the Servant Leaders Library
“Why Development? From Library Experience
Toward Leadership Excellence” (SL#1)

by Lloyd Elder, Th.D. adapted from SkillTrack® Leadership Materials

Humbling as it may be to read the statement one more time, I quote with agreement: “leadership can be learned, but it cannot be taught.” That is yet another way of saying that leadership is like learning to swim or to ride a bicycle; others may help, but you have to learn leadership for yourself. The responsibility starts with the individual:

If this Servant Leaders Library is helpful to you as you do your own learning, we have fulfilled our mission. The following topics intend to give some guidance in your self-directed development journey: from a library experience toward leadership excellence in Christian ministry.

1. Leadership Development--Why?

There are many good reasons why a Christian ministry leader would want consistently to pursue improvement and development. Why?--because of the benefits of leadership development to you personally, to your family members, to your ministry performance, to your congregation, and to your community. We believe that SkillTrack® Leadership has been making a contribution to these benefits, and that Servant Leaders Today Web site and Library will expand the benefits to many others. So, let’s explore further the “why” of development:

2. Why Development?--To Lead Congregational Functions

Ministry leaders have the significant responsibility to shape and lead the mission and functions of the congregation. At least ten such functions require the continuous and life-time development of leadership skills and practices. Six of these are often considered “biblical functions” (marked by *); the other four may be necessary to implement the six, to bring to wholeness the life and work of the congregation.

3. Leadership Development--Why You?

Throughout society and its workforce, there is an expectation, if not requirement, that employees stay up in their professional work. The “why” of continual improvement is quite often explained to that workforce. Why should not excellence be expected of those of us who labor in the eternal work of Christ, “to show ourselves approved”? Among Christian ministers, who are most likely to pursue leadership development? Our findings include those:

These same folks may see leadership development as a fabric made up of a life-time of preparation, such as: family and early schooling; practical experiences (the “University of Hard Knocks”); college or university; seminary or divinity school; independent study and reflection; peer-group or mentoring; continuing professional education; and ministry leadership certification. Included in several of these development strategies are electronic resources such as, SkillTrack® Leadership, and the Moench Center for Church Leadership.

4. Three Leadership Development Challenges

My assessment of the challenges facing us have emerged over the last several years of working with ministers, churches, and others who help with leadership training. We have much work to do in all three challenge areas that are identified:

“What is the #1 challenge for comprehensive ministry leadership training?” For pastors, staff members, and lay leaders to value, pursue, practice, and take responsibility for life-long leadership development?

“What is the #2 challenge for comprehensive ministry leadership training?”
For congregations to value, expect, support, provide for, and reward life-long leadership development.

“What is the #3 challenge for comprehensive ministry leadership training?”
For an expanding Christian network to make available development resources: basic and innovative; biblical and practical; specialized and comprehensive; flexible and affordable for all leaders in ministry.

5. Five Approaches to Leadership Development

The Servant Leaders Library could contribute to many of the approaches to leadership development including, for example, the following five:

6. Leadership Development and the Servant Leaders Library

Skill development practices in the midst of Christian ministry form a stream of experience that may be explored, expanded, and described for establishing a model for learning leadership. This free Library is passive; it may be of passing interest or simply be ignored. But for students and ministers of all sorts--the desperate, the curious, the searching, the growing--the Library may contribute to the phases of self-motivated adult learning, skill development, and servant leadership in Christian ministry. These phases may be experienced either in sequences or in reality as a cluster:

Conclusion: Why develop as a servant leader? Exploring the Library may move you along other paths of your growth as a servant leader in the ministry of Christ. These topics offer at least some beginning answers to the question “Why?”

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© 2006; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership