One of the perpetual questions in ministry is around bringing up and developing new leaders, particularly when it comes to the next generation of young leaders. How can you engage with them and invest in them, even if they end up just passing through your ministry on their way to something else? Mingo Palacios, Angie White, and Robert Cortes sit down to discuss their personal experiences with this issue in this two-part conversation.
In Part 2 of their conversation on developing leaders and seeing them through, Mingo, Robert, and Angie dive deeper into some of the challenges you may encounter along the way and share advice from their own experiences.
Angie emphasizes the importance of patience in terms of being “willing to invest in someone even if you don’t have ministry ties to them.” Don’t reach out to people just to fill up spots in your ministry, she advises, because it only leads to burnt-out, uninspired leaders. “They check out after a little bit because the way they were brought in was shallow.”
Remember also that not everyone will be called to your ministry in particular, and that’s okay. “There’s people who we get to recruit and bring with us. There’s people that we get to sow a seed and then let them stay where they’re at. And then there are some people that we pass on to,” Angie says.
The three leaders also agree that it’s critical to work on not being desperate for people to join your programs. “I don’t think Jesus was desperate when He walked amongst twelve, calling them to the ministry,” Mingo points out. “He was very keen that it was an opportunity for them to become something they could not become themselves… That’s such a critical parallel to me when pastors miss the people in exchange for the program.” When you’re too busy thinking about filling up spots in your program, you won’t be thinking about actually fulfilling the vision and mission of the people around you.
Mingo shares a revelation he’s had about Jesus calling the twelve disciples to follow him. While many (including Mingo, for many years) interpret this as Jesus calling them to a place where they could belong, Mingo says there’s much more to it than that. “I think Jesus was giving those people a pace to belong to. He was saying, ‘Follow me. I’m in rhythm. I’m going. I’m experiencing the call in the ministry of my Father. Will you keep pace with me? Follow me.’”
When Jesus says “follow me,” Mingo believes He’s talking about a trajectory, not a place. Thus, in our own lives, instead of focusing on the place (our specific church), we should focus on the pace. By doing so, we can unite many churches with a common rhythm and trajectory, and grow our ministries in a much more impactful way. “Then you’re not threatened if they belong to my church or they go to your church or they attend this function, because it’s not about a place.”
Another key point is to reach out to people because you genuinely want to get to know them, not just because you want to use them for something. “People can discern when you’re getting to know them just because you want something from them, and that’s not what Jesus did while He was here,” Angie says. “We cannot skip knowing somebody before using somebody,” Mingo agrees. Ask them good questions, Robert suggests, listen intently to what they have to say, and that will usually help you to discern where they might fit within your ministry.
Then, give people opportunities to expand their gifts, and give them space to fail. Robert recalls feeling much more relaxed in his role working with Mingo because Mingo made it clear that it was okay to fail. With that burden lifted and permission to make mistakes granted, it’s much easier for young leaders to grow. Mingo agrees: “As a leader, my job is to release pressure and to give permission.”
Finally, reflecting once more on the topic of seeing leaders through your ministry on their way to the next opportunity, Mingo reminds us not to reject young leaders if they choose to decline the position you’ve offered them. Yes, it will be a tough conversation when someone feels ready to leave your church, but it’s also “an opportunity to rewrite the storyline” and to support and encourage them as they transition into a new season. “Even in the loss of a leader, you can do a great thing for the next assignment they’re stepping into.”