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  • Hannah Williamson


I love to strategically think things through, whether it be a holiday to make the most out of it, a project I am working on or a board game I am playing. Since lock down, at least once a week I have been playing a game called ‘Ticket to Ride’ with my family. In probably 30 games, I’ve won twice. The most annoying thing about this is that my housemate who claims to ‘have no consistent strategy’ has won every single time. I think carefully through exactly how I am going to win to no avail!

One of the things I most love is seeing younger men and women released into their giftings to serve Jesus. I am intrigued by the way different people raise leaders in order to see the Kingdom of God grow. As I have recently been reading through the Gospels, I have noticed again how Jesus’ leadership development strategy is somewhat ‘different’ to the way we often go about it in churches and it has challenged me. Am I raising leaders the ‘Jesus way’? Are churches raising leaders in the way Jesus did? Here are a few things I notice about Jesus’ leadership development strategy. Maybe we should learn from Him?!?!


As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. ‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.’ Mark 1:16-18

First off, Jesus went and found people to lead and then He told them to follow Him. It’s an unusual way to lead. Most people are led because they are in a position where there is a leader above them with a title. Others are led because they see someone they admire and seek to learn from them. I can’t say I have ever had someone come up to me and say, ‘I’m going to lead you.’ It would seem somewhat strange, yet this is what Jesus did. What I notice about this strategy is that Jesus was INTENTIONAL. He didn’t sit around waiting for people to notice Him, but He went out, looked for those with potential and placed Himself in their lives.

A thought to consider…..Why not look around you and see who has the potential for influence? Get alongside them, actively become part of their world and do what Jesus did – lead them. It sounds a little forceful but in reality, it was an intentional choice that I think we often overlook.


Within our churches we often leave the teenagers to the Youth Pastor. Now, don’t get me wrong, having been a Youth Pastor I am passionate about young people and think every church should have someone dedicated to working with this age group. As I considered the fact that the disciples were probably mostly under the age of 21, it got me thinking about leadership development in our churches. Are Pastors actively developing this age group or are they leaving it down to the Youth Pastor or the Young Adults Pastor? What would happen if every Pastor had a teenager (or 12!?) that they were actively developing or getting alongside? I think it would certainly look a little more like Jesus’ strategy! I am part of a team that runs a Young leaders bootcamp called ‘Young Lions’. ( Last year a Pastor came to help at this. I found it hugely inspirational as He was willing amidst his crazy busy schedule to give a weekend of His time to pour into these 16-21 year olds. I think this looked a little closer to the Jesus strategy than what is often seen.

A thought to consider…..How could you actively invest time into some younger potential leaders?


The twelve were with him…’ Luke 8:1

When it comes to the development of leaders, it is often a course that someone signs up to and possibly is taught for a few hours each week. At the end of a few weeks, maybe they will be allowed to lead in a certain part in church. Jesus’ strategy was vastly different. He picked who He was going to lead and then He spent A LOT of time with them. He journeyed with them (literally!), he allowed them to be part of His ministry, He taught them, He ate with them….He literally spent His whole life with them for the three years of His ministry. He invested serious amounts of time into this small group of younger people. The above verse says that the disciples were ‘with him.’ There are numerous similar verses saying the same thing. There are not many times where the disciples are not mentioned as being with Jesus. He allowed them to see Him at the best and worst moments. I wonder if we do the same or maybe try to hide those difficult times. I know for me I have learnt some of the strongest lessons watching other leaders in their difficult moments.

A thought….How much time outside a ‘classroom setting’ do you spend with those you are leading?


‘He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.’ Mark 3:13-19

It would be easy to choose ‘easy people’ to lead. It would be ideal if everyone on the teams we lead were non-complicated, spiritually mature and ‘got it all together’ type people. Sometimes I think we can be prejudice in the way we choose people for our teams. A strong thing to say, but the reality is leading a group of difficult people is not attractive. I love Jesus’ strange strategy here – it’s like He thought to himself ‘get the most diverse group of people I can, get them to all spend a lot of time together and let’s see what happens!’ Think about it for a moment, in the same group you had Simon the Zealot who most likely had tried to or had killed or at least seriously injured Jewish supporters of Rome…..people like Matthew, who was a Tax collector and so seen as a supporter of Rome. And then we have James and John – the sons of thunder. Anyone with the name ‘son of thunder’ would be ‘interesting’ in character. Then we have Peter…..need I say more? It was a mixed group of very risk people, yet Jesus chose them, believed in them, empowered them and released them to serve Him.

A thought….. Are the people you are leading easy to lead? Is there anyone that’s a bit of a risk? If not, go find some risky people who might just turn out to be the ones Jesus would have chosen!


Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and illness.’ Matthew 10:1

At 13 I was asked to go and help at a kid’s camp put on by my church. I was barely a teenager, but someone decided they would believe in me and ‘give me a go.’ This experience had a huge impact on my life because someone believed in me and made a way for me to serve Jesus. We will never be ‘ready’ to go out and serve Jesus. No one ever is, but no matter the age of someone, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we are given power to be His witnesses. I think, too often in church we hold people back. We want them to learn more. Maybe we say we don’t want people to ‘mess up’ or get ‘too arrogant.’ Jesus’ strategy was to quickly release people. In the passage above we see Jesus releasing the disciples fairly early on. To be honest even thinking about the fact that after 3 years of spending time with this group of younger guys, Jesus released them to start the church is pretty wild! How many people in your church in their early 20’s are going to plant a church? One of my greatest desires is to see young people released to serve Jesus early on! I was 21 when I was given the opportunity to lead a youth ministry that back then was fairly wild. I will be forever grateful that someone would ‘give me a chance’ and would trust that Jesus would use me!

A thought….Who could you release now? What could you get a younger person to lead? What do you need to stop doing in order to allow someone younger to step up and lead?


So, to conclude, Jesus' strategy went something like this: 'Grab a bunch of rough-around-the-edge teenagers, spend too much time with them, tell them their mandate is to change the world and then leave them to get on with it!' Radical!

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