Create a Culture for
In the Gospels, Jesus instructs the crowds, loves on the kids, rebukes religious leaders, and invests deeply in a handful of guys we know as his disciples. He left his legacy in the disciples and, in his final moments with them, empowered them to build the church. As leaders, we often think that our legacy is about that "thing" we leave behind: our unique accomplishments or contributions, our masterpiece or big idea. Legacy isn't really about what you leave on the canvas but about what you leave in people.
Paul accepted Jesus' challenge to make new disciples. He is famous for being a model evangelist and church planter, but he was also a great disciple-maker, and his letters to Timothy and Titus give us a window into his relationships with those he personally discipled. Timothy and Titus were leaders of local churches Paul helped establish. When Paul talks to them about legacy, it echoes Jesus' command to make new disciples.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says to Timothy, "You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others" (NLT). Paul urges Timothy to pass it on. Paul invests in Timothy as an equal shareholder in the kingdom of God on a common mission to make disciples. And he asks Timothy to do the same thing with people that will continue the chain.
To Titus, Paul says in Titus 1:5, "I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you." In other words, You do it, Titus. You develop leaders and take responsibility to build the church. Paul is passing the baton.
Think about today's church. Who are the leaders? We have pastors and elders to tackle big financial and pastoral issues. But who leads the people of God through the bumps and joys of day-to-day life? Small group leaders. You. You're called to develop leaders, just like Titus and Timothy.
Most of us don't think about developing a new leader until our group has reached max capacity or we're worn out. Then we get a co-leader to lessen the burden. By the time we're at the point where we need a new leader, the group has become a problem to manage and not a discipleship opportunity to steward. Raising up a new leader is a form of discipleship. It is the natural and primary task of leaders.
As a small group leader, if there is anything you need to know about developing a new leader, it all comes down to two key words: time and intentionality. There are no short cuts.
Has your small group become a large group? By the time you are in a bind to figure out what to do with your group, it's too late! Developing a new leader is not damage control; it's discipleship. Casting vision for leadership development early will speak life and purpose in your group. Let the group know from the very beginning that you are praying for God to raise one (or more) of them to leadership. For the natural leaders in your group, this will tap into and fuel their desire to lead.
We are all part of today's chain of faith. Somebody was faithful to pass on what they knew to us, and as leaders we have a responsibility to pass it on, too. The model of Christ, copied by Paul, is the same model we must use today: invest in people, help them grow in the faith, and ask them to invest in others who will do the same. In the kingdom of God, leaving faith generations in your wake is a true measure of legacy.