The First Leader You Must Train


Every pastor I've ever met wants to reach the lost and build disciples. I believe that’s you as well.

I know you want to see people saved and for your church members to grow in their love and understanding of Christ. That’s why you got into this work.

But now, after years of doing this work, you realize that it’s impossible to do it alone. You need help. You need others to come alongside and share the load.

In part, that’s why you are listening to me. That’s why you found this podcast. You want to learn how to identify, train, and release leaders into the work.

This is Mark Jones and I help pastors reach the lost, build disciples, and develop church leaders. Thanks for listening to Coaching Christian Leaders. If you want to know more about how I can help, then please visit www.CoachingChristianLeaders.com

In today’s episode, we are going to focus on the most important leader you must train. You must train this leader before all others. And a failure to do so will cause problems.

Who is that one leader you must give the priority to? It is yourself.

Over the past four leadership development episodes you have:

  • identified a leadership position to develop.
  • You have written a short job description.
  • I have asked you some questions with the hope of creating in you a sense of urgency.
  • And we have brought the Lord into our planning.

And today?

Today we are going to focus on ourselves. We are going to work on our own leadership skills.

Let me take a couple of minutes and tell you a bit about myself. My story will help you understand the value of personal leadership development.

For me, becoming a pastor is a second career. Before I was a pastor I was career military. I retired from the Air Force in 1995 and shortly after that went into full-time ministry.

The work I did in the Air Force – I was a Russian Linguist – had nothing to do with pastoring a church. So about one year before retirement I began to work on a Master of Divinity. Then about one year after retiring I went into ministry.

I tell you this because early in my ministry career I realized something.

Seminary did not prepare me to lead a church.

In general, Bible colleges and Seminaries do not train pastors to lead churches.

In seminary, I had only one class on pastoral leadership. All the other classes were on theology, Bible book studies, and language (Greek, and Hebrew). Those things are essential but they do not prepare you to lead a church.

Where did I learn how to lead? The leadership skills I possessed, in the beginning, came from my years in the Air Force. The rest I learned on the job and from speaking to other pastors.

And now I want to share with you what I have learned.

Over the next few episodes, we will work on personal leadership skills.

  1. You need to learn to read with intention.
  2. You need to work with a coach or a mentor who will challenge you.
  3. You need to surround yourself with a small group of peers and meet with them regularly.

Today we will focus on reading with intention.

One of the best ways to learn to lead is to read with intent.

If the internet is telling the truth, then CEOs read approximately 60 books a year. That’s five books per month.  You are the CEO of your church.

I know you already read to preach. Books that help you with message prep probably equal 2-3 books per month. So why not use the other 2-3 slots and read for leadership development?

About a year ago I came across an article by James Clear titled 7 Ways to Retain More of Every Book You Read. James Clear is the author of the book Atomic Habits. I’ll put a link to this article in the show notes.

But for the next few minutes, I will give you Mr. Clear’s seven points and put my spin on them.

  1. Quit More Books

You do not have to read a book cover to cover. If it is not bearing fruit stop reading it. Not every book is worth the investment of time. And often you can get what you need early and then move on.

Let me add this. If you want the information the book contains but find the book to be a drag to read, then buy a summary book.

Here’s what I mean. Say you want to read Jim Collin’s book Good to Great but you do not want to read 400 pages. Someone has written a summary book and it's on Amazon. Summary books give an overview of the major ideas, they give an analysis, and they are typically under 50 pages long.

You need to be reading more to improve your leadership skills but if the book does not click with you then quit it. And if you think the info is good but the read is overwhelming, see if someone has written a summary book.

  1. Choose Books You Can Use Instantly

You need to be reading on the subject you can instantly use.

Later I will recommend a few books you should read first. One of those is Paul Axtell’s book Meetings Matter. As I read that book, I began to use his ideas to change the church board meetings. It was exciting to see his ideas come to life in our meetings.

  1. Create Searchable Notes

This bit of advice improved my reading. Today I mainly buy Kindle books. Kindle books save me money. The cost of a Kindle book is much less than a print book. Plus, at the end of my pastor career, I am not stuck with 100’s of print books that I can’t get rid of.

But the main reason I read Kindle books is that I can search on my highlights and print my notes.

I use a free program called Kindle Mate to pull off and print these highlights. Mr. Clear recommends Evernote. Whichever, create searchable notes.

One more thing on this. If you really want to retain what you read, when you finish a book, print out your highlights, read over them, and then write down the ones that really resonate with you.

  1. Combine Knowledge Trees

You need to link or hook what you are reading to something you have already learned or experienced.

You do this when you read the Bible or commentaries. Your mind makes links to previous studies or message series.

When you read secular material you need to create similar links to previous material. But you will need to be intentional.

  1. Write a Short Summary

Mr. Clear gives a short outline on how to do this. He recommends you ask yourself these three questions: 1) What are the main ideas? 2) If I implemented one idea from this book right now which one would it be? 3) How would you describe the book to a friend.

  1. Surround the Topic

Mr. Clear means that we should pull in articles and other subject matter that speak to the topic of the book. But I want to give an alternate way to surround the topic. Try and get a few friends or congregational members to read the book along with you. Then meet to discuss it. Surround the topic of the book with their ideas and viewpoints.

  1. Read it Twice

Good advice but not every book is worth reading twice, but... those that are you should read over again. At the very least, you should read back over your highlights and notes.

Here they are one more time:

  1. Quit More Books
  2. Choose Books You Can Use Instantly
  3. Create Searchable Notes
  4. Combine Knowledge Trees
  5. Write a Short Summary
  6. Surround the Topic
  7. Read it Twice

So the first step in our personal leadership development is to read with intent. You need to be reading 2-3 leadership books per month.
In the next episode, I will give you some book titles that you need to read now to grow as a leader.

Some of those book titles are listed on my Resource Page found at CoachingChristianLeaders.com. So just pop over to CoachingChristianLeaders.com and look for the Resources tab.

Thanks for listening to Coaching Christian Leaders. You should subscribe to this podcast so that you’ll never miss an episode.

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This is Mark Jones and I will speak with you soon.


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