By Todd Adkins
We all have volunteers and leaders in the comfort zone of ministry. Let me explain. When a volunteer handles ministry responsibilities well, we tend to add more responsibilities to their plate. And when they excel in those additional responsibilities, we often move them into a leadership role. However, this is when they often remain in the comfort zone.
As I’ve written in Developing Your Leadership Pipeline the most common place where new leaders trip is at passage one of the leadership pipeline: moving from being a volunteer to leading others. Because good volunteers often continue doing what made them successful in the first place, they fail to navigate the transition from doing ministry tasks to leading others. They stay in the comfort zone.
So how do you get people out of the comfort zone? I encourage four steps of leadership development. These four steps overlap with helping people walk through their current level of comfort and eventually taking on a new role.
Four Steps of Leadership Development
- Intentional Ministry
The first step is helping them understand where they are in the comfort zone. Here, they feel safe and they likely don’t want to take on additional responsibility even if they have the potential to do so because they feel like they are in control. To move them forward in development, start small and be intentional. Walk alongside them and allow them to observe and ask questions before diving in.
- Guided Ministry
Odds are likely that after someone commits to a leadership role, fear kicks in and they second-guess their decision. This is the fear zone. They fear this new responsibility, they lack confidence, and they find excuses why this isn’t going to work. That’s where you guide their development. You provide them sound training, but you ask them to help you and come alongside you before asking them to take on the full weight of that responsibility on their own.
- Collaborative Ministry
Then we want to move them into the learning zone. Here your efforts are collaborative. They may have received training, but now this person is learning skills from you and how to overcome challenges, all the while growing in confidence. You are, in turn, gradually transferring that responsibility to them.
- Equipped Ministry
Finally, the growth zone. The growth zone is special. This person has now been equipped to take on the leadership responsibilities. Because you have helped stretch them through comfort, fear, and learning, now they are ready to grow as a leader.