TAGAYTAY, PHILIPPINES—I am enjoying a few days in beautiful Tagaytay for our annual Every Nation Asian Leadership Team (ALT) meeting. The last time Deborah and I were here, it was formy son James’s wedding.
Whenever I gather with our leaders from Asia and hear the reports of what God is doing in their cities and nations, I am filled with hope about the future of our movement and the future of the church in Asia. I love the team of leaders we have in Asia. It is so encouraging to see the faithfulness and wisdom of our older generation of leaders and the growth and vision of our emerging crop leaders in the region.
Looking from the outside, you may think: “How lucky we are to have been blessed with such a great team!”
Yes and no.
Yes, I am grateful for the team. Our Asian Leadership Team is amazing.
But no, it is not luck. No good team happens by accident. One of our roles as leaders is to build teams.
Think about Jesus’s own life and ministry. One of the first things that he did was build a team:
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him(Mark 1:16–20).
Before Jesus had a following, before he had a title (rabbi), before he had influence, he built a team. He gathered Simon and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, and he called them to follow him.
But how did he build his team? What was his secret?
One of the most important words in this passage is the verb “saw.” Mark 1:16 says Jesus “saw Simon and Andrew.” Here’s the question: What did Jesus see when he saw Simon?
Did he see a young fisherman from Galilee (the Peter of Mark 1)? Or did he see a bold preacher and leader of the church (the Peter of Acts 2)?
What did Jesus see when he “saw” John? (Mark 1:19)
Did he see a young teenager tagging along with his older brother James (the John of Mark 1)? Or did he see an old man writing letters to the churches from the island of Patmos (the John of Revelation)?
Jesus saw in Peter and John not just what they were in that moment, but what they would become when they followed him.
I so often hear established leaders tell me that they are looking for good leaders. I understand. When things are growing quickly and our growth is outpacing our leadership development, leaders are often in short supply.
However, I would encourage you to stop looking for leaders. Instead, start seeing the leaders who are right in front of you.
I am pretty sure that I would have missed Peter and John that day in Galilee. I am pretty sure I would have missed David, too (Samuel did). I am pretty sure most leaders didn’t see me either—but I am thankful for the few that did.
When we shift our focus from finding ready-made leaders to seeing future leaders, we will begin to lead like Jesus. We will begin to develop homegrown leaders and will no longer need to look elsewhere to solve our leadership shortages.