How does God’s kingdom expand? As the creator of the universe, He could have chosen to force His will upon people. But He did not. In His sovereignty, He has chosen to work through people to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to people all over the world. When a person chooses to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, God’s kingdom expands.
How do we develop leaders that expand God’s kingdom? Let me suggest five ways. Jesus modeled these.
1. Personally ask them to lead. Jesus spread the net far and way for people to follow Him. But when it came to His closest followers, He personally recruited them. I would encourage you to keep your eyes open for those with leadership potential, those with a passion for God, those with a willingness to serve others, those who are teachable. Ask them to help you lead. Mentor them, encourage them, disciple them. Jesus called twelve men to be his closest disciples. He personally recruited them.
Matthew 10:2-4 (HCSB)
These are the names of the 12 apostles: First, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
2. Equip them with the vision, skills and knowledge to lead. When Jesus was sending his disciples out for some ministry projects, He told them exactly where to go, what to do, and He equipped them with everything they needed to be successful. When you recruit someone to lead, be very specific. Tell them the task to be done. Give them an overall description of why the task is important, how it fits into the overall vision of expanding God’s kingdom. Answer any questions they may have. Make sure they have the tools they need to get the job done.
Matthew 10:5-10 (HCSB)
Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge. Don’t take along gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts. Don’t take a traveling bag for the road, or an extra shirt, sandals, or a walking stick, for the worker is worthy of his food.
3. Give them the opportunity to lead. Jesus could have done all of the work Himself. He was God-in-the-flesh. He had already performed miracles, met needs, and taught with amazing authority. But He knew His time on earth was limited. He knew the time was coming when the work He had started would depend completely upon these twelve people. He had to give them opportunities to begin serving and leading now. They needed to learn to use their gifts, to depend on the Lord, to start small then grow into more and more leadership responsibilities. As we recruit people to lead with us, follow His example.
Matthew 10:5 (HCSB)
Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions…
4. Provide feedback, coaching and mentoring. When Jesus sent these future leaders out for ministry projects, He gave them feedback when they returned. He listened to their experiences. He answered their questions. He clarified expectations and priorities. He pulled them aside at times for important times of feedback, coaching and mentoring. He reminded them of the mission. Developing leaders is an investment in time, prayer, effort and energy. It is worth it to expand God’s kingdom.
Matthew 16:13-18 (HCSB)
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.”
5. Send them out to lead, and celebrate it! At the end of His earthly ministry, after the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus was saying a final goodbye to these leaders. He knew that now was the time for them to step up and begin leading. He didn’t bemoan this situation. He celebrated their opportunity. When we raise up someone to lead, sometimes they take our place in leadership. Sometimes they go somewhere else to lead. Sometimes we send people with them to start a new group, a new ministry, or even a new church. When God calls them out to lead, send them out to lead and celebrate it.
Luke 24:50-53 (HCSB)
Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. And while He was blessing them, He left them and was carried up into heaven. After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple complex praising God.
Take a moment to think and pray about who you should be developing as a leader. Make a commitment to take the action steps necessary to begin to develop them into the leader that God wants them to be, a leader that will expand God’s kingdom.