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If you’re unsure of your answer to this question, the answer is “yes.” Waiting until you need new leaders to look for them may be too late.

Joshua was on Moses’s future leader list years before God appointed the prophet’s protégé to lead the Israelites out of the wilderness into the Promised Land. When the disciples needed to replace Judas, more than one person was qualified to take on additional responsibility. In both cases, new leaders were ready when the opportunity appeared. Perhaps the church nominating committee needs to be supported by a talent identification culture.

Identifying gifts and talents needs to happen throughout the year in multiple ways. While churches often wait until positions are vacant or until the last quarter of the year to assess who is willing to lead, the for-profit business world understands the importance of recruiting top talent. Corporations devote human and financial resources to the process of finding, developing and retaining high-performing people.

Congregations don’t need to break the bank by building a corporate-style comprehensive HR department, however. You can find new leaders by asking the right questions. When staff and leadership teams meet, add talent identification to the agenda. Who are the volunteers who seem to know how to get things done? Who seems to have the gift of working well with others? Who’s good at organizing the work? Who consistently shows up first when the work needs to be done?

Talent identification requires spiritual discernment. As you embed talent identification into the church’s culture by asking the right questions, the Holy Spirit can guide you to new leaders who are both eager and ready to serve.


Resources

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Reaching out to a new generation of young Latina leaders

When the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas reached out to young women, they were overwhelmed by the response. Hundreds of young Latinas gathered at the SHINE conference to talk about everything from suicide to teen pregnancy.

Q&A with Brenda Rincones

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Identifying and preparing tomorrow’s leaders today

How can we identify and equip lay and ordained leaders for future roles in Christian organizations and institutions? Are we willing to even discuss succession planning?

By Nathan Kirkpatrick

The world needs what women bring

Developing women leaders takes more than teaching women skills to lead like men — it requires a new understanding of leadership that “writes women in,” says a scholar of women’s leadership in Christian higher education.

Q&A with Karen A. Longman

How do you keep great leaders?

Finding good people to serve your congregation or organization isn’t enough, writes a pastor. You also need to develop a strategy to retain them.

By A. Trevor Sutton

Seeking leaders who persevere

Perseverance is critical for transformative leadership — but can be tough to spot on a résumé. Talent scouts should learn to ask questions to discover whether job candidates are resilient, disciplined and hungry for new challenges.

By L. Gregory Jones and Benjamin McNutt


Before you go…

I once commented on the beauty of a friend’s church, and I’ll never forget his response. He said, “You can’t pastor bricks.” While my friend appreciated the spacious building he inherited as the church’s new pastor, he also understood that people were the key resource, the resource that was necessary to do faithful ministry.

Leadership development begins with talent identification. How do you notice and develop God’s gifts? Committees, ministries and programs offer an invaluable opportunity to assess people’s desire and commitment to take on more responsibility. While there’s no formula for finding new leaders, I can think of a few key elements: Cultivate deeper relationships. Continually look for gifts and talents. Offer the opportunity to lead.

You can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading! 

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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