Equipping Leaders for Ministry Success
Excerpted from "Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People and Impact Others" (Charisma House)
Jesus modeled the principle of equipping as He trained the disciples. Mark 9:14‒29 tells the story of a boy who was possessed by an evil spirit. The boy’s dad asked the disciples to drive out the demon, but they couldn’t do it. So the man brought his son to Jesus, who of course cast the evil spirit out. The disciples were confused by what happened and asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive the evil spirit away. Jesus told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (NKJV).
This is the essence of equipping—not only teaching someone how to engage in ministry but also actually showing him what to do. Jesus wasn’t OK with the disciples not casting out the demon. This is why He completed the process for them. Success in our ministry efforts matters to Jesus. When we are equipped and empowered by the Spirit of God, our ministry should be effective.
At one point in the story of the demonized boy, Jesus became frustrated with the boy’s father and the disciples. He said: “O unbelieving generation … how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (Mark 9:19). It’s clear from the larger context of Mark 9 that Jesus had already taught the disciples about faith, prayer, casting out demons, and fasting. But when they were unable to put what He taught them into practice, He took the time to teach them again.
This is the kind of commitment it takes to equip people for ministry. Rarely will a person learn how to minister effectively the first time he is taught. Equipping is a process. What’s more, people are individuals and need differing amounts of training. Eventually, like the disciples, the people you lead will be able to serve on their own. When they do reach that place of maturity, they will be one step closer to becoming leaders themselves.
This doesn’t mean they will need no further coaching. In fact, when Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and guide us into all truth. (See John 16:5‒15.) The learning process never ends, but it is possible to be adequately prepared for the assignment we have been given.
After I accepted the call to ministry, I wanted to prepare myself for that vocation. So I attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, to earn a master’s degree in divinity.
My training was excellent. I gained biblical depth and spiritual grounding, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But while I loved my experience at Asbury, I graduated still unprepared for ministry in a number of ways.
I don’t fault Asbury for that at all. Some things we learn in a classroom, and some things are better taught on the field. When I entered full-time ministry, I had no idea how to raise serious amounts of money, what to do when a board member was mad at me, how to construct a complex church budget, how to counsel people without getting sued, or how to write sermons every week without spending thirty hours mining Greek and Hebrew texts. This kind of training came from those who worked and served beside me. I learned by doing ministry.
The members of your team need the same kind of equipping from you. They need hands-on training that will enable them to be effective leaders even when you’re not around. For some people, this kind of coaching comes easily. For others, especially those who had no mentors themselves, this skill will have to be developed. The good news is that everyone can become better at equipping their team members, especially when they make it a priority. Through the rest of this chapter, I will discuss several strategies to help leaders strengthen their ability to equip their teams. None of these tactics is complicated, but leaders must be intentional about implementing them. Equipping doesn’t happen by accident.