It’s easier to get them in than it is to get them out.

Leadership Rule: It’s easier to get them in than it is to get them out.

A while back I wrote an article entitled, “Mistakes I made when selecting leaders.” Some of you wrote back telling me how helpful this topic was. Because of that response I’d like to return to this subject and touch upon three things to look for when selecting leaders: character, competence, and ownership.

Look for character. African-American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) said, “Character is power.” The person with character has power…power to lead. People will follow a man or woman with character. Character isn’t developed overnight and you’ll need time and contact with the person to recognize whether or not they have character. Don’t rush to put someone in a key position of leadership until you’ve spotted signs of character or the lack of. What do they talk about, laugh about, value? How do they spend their free time, treat their wife, talk to those under them? Are they reliable, punctual, courteous, and kind? Are they impatient, critical, or condescending? How do they handle disagreement, personal criticism, conflict?

It takes time to recognize character. Be patient. Here’s the rule: The more important the position of leadership is that you are trying to fill, the longer you should take in making your decision.

Look for competence. Competency: the ability to do something well or to a required standard. Some pastors set their leadership standards too high and others too low. Both extremes will prevent a church from moving forward. If you’re thinking of making someone your new worship leader you want a certain level of competence. Someone leading a small church needs some competency in speaking, facilitating, etc. The church bookkeeper needs to be good with numbers. Now remember, some skills can be learned and if you have the time to invest in training someone…good for you. But it would be better to leave a ministry spot empty and wait for a competent person to fill it than to assign to it someone who will end up causing you a headache because of their incompetence.

Look for ownership. It’s hard to keep someone motivated in a ministry if they do not have ownership. That’s why you’ve got to be careful about talking someone into doing something they really don’t want to do. They might say yes to you but you will end up spending energy pushing and pulling them. People who have ownership of a ministry will be self-motivated.

Some other time I will write on creating ownership but for now simply remember that ownership, along with character and competence are three essential qualities to look for before setting apart someone in a key position of leadership. Save yourself a headache…select leaders slowly and carefully. Remember the rule: it’s easier to get them in than to get them out.

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