“There is no success without a successor”. These words come from the great management guru Peter Drucker during a conference in the US in 1989. Listening to Drucker on the day sat John Maxwell, the prominent and prolific writer on Christian leadership. Maxwell left the gathering with one resolve: “I was going to produce leaders who produce leaders” (Maxwell 1995: 10). In other words, Maxwell was setting himself a new goal that consumed him from that point on....... multiplying leaders.
This, of course is nothing new. Leadership succession is illustrated through the Bible. When we read Paul’s wise words to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2 we can surely conclude that the great Apostle was focusing on leaders who were being prepared for the great task ahead of them. With these words Paul presses home the responsibility to those in leadership to train and shape others to lead. The servant leader will devote time to training others to succeed and perhaps even supercede themselves – this, I believe, is real success!
One of the most significant and strategic things HT can do is to help leaders of tomorrow develop their spiritual potential. Jesus devoted the greater part of His three years of ministry to molding the characters and spirits of His disciples.
Paul showed the same concern for training Timothy. This potential leader was prone to rely on old spiritual experiences rather than stirring up the gifts that were lying dormant. Paul had high hopes for him and set about correcting Timothy’ timid nature and replacing softness with steel. The old teacher led Timothy into experiences and hardship that toughened his character. Paul did not hesitate to assign him tasks beyond his present abilities and powers. How else can a potential leader, in fact one of Paul’s successors, develop competence and confidence if not by stretching to try the impossible?
Travelling with Paul brought Timothy into an understanding of how a person of God responded in the most challenging and desperate circumstances. Paul showed and shared with Timothy the work of preaching. Paul’s exacting standards, high expectations and heavy demands brought out the best in Timothy, saving him from a life of mediocrity.
Is successful succession the raising up of leaders to take our place? Timothy was not mentored to replace Paul, no, he was raised up and entrusted to continue the work of Gospel. Paul was preparing him, stirring him, agitating him so that his potential could be fully realized.
When Moses realized he would need a successor, he asked God to provide one. God directed him to Joshua, whom God had already prepared for the task. It is important to note that Moses did not choose his own successor.
Moses had long before recognized Joshua’s abilities and potential. Moses became his mentor and had given him various leadership tasks to further his development. Prior to his death, Moses formally ordained Joshua to leadership in front of the priest and the people. Following Moses’ death, the Lord reconfirmed the succession of Joshua to leadership.
However, as much as we plan and prepare for succession we recognize that ultimately God is in charge of this process. He always has been. Oswald Sanders presents us with an interesting perspective concerning this, “Is it not better for the position to seek out the person rather than the person to seek out the position?” At the right time, God always finds the man or woman He wants.
In conclusion…..Perhaps your thinking, “I am not a leader so this does not apply to me”. I am not so sure… The one who takes responsibility is a leader. The one who makes a difference to others is a leader.
If you feel God pulling on your heart, see a need or just see an opportunity to help someone, do it. Don’t miss the moment to bring influence. Leaders simply take action. They see a need and they find a way to meet that need. They can’t stand by doing nothing.
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