Leading From The Ledge Develops The Leaders Around You

He called them to the edge, and they would not come.
He called them to the edge again, and they would not come.
He called them to the edge a last time. And they came. And He pushed them. 
And they flew.
This is a poem I adapted from a poem by Guillaume, the French poet of the early 20th century. I read the poem 20+ years ago and adapted the language for a message on 'no limits'. It has always been my desire to call people to do something they have never done. To go beyond their limits. To overcome lids or fences in their lives. To conquer fear. 

My definition of Leadership is simple. Leadership is helping others do greater things than yourself. A leader becomes a leader when they are able to help another person do greater things than they have ever done. For example, the reason I have been able to see as far as I have been able to see in my life is because I am standing on the shoulders of others who have pushed me.  Years ago God spoke to me a simple truth. It was about 10 years into my ministry and I was obsessed with how I was going to reach the world.  And God gave me a plan. That I was really not ready for. He said to me, 
"Jeff, you will never be great, but the people around you will be."

To be honest, I wasn't really excited about that. But, as I began to understand what God was saying to me, I realized that I could reach the world much easier by investing in others. And so Jane and I have made that one of our non-negotiables in ministry over the years. How do we convince young people to come to the edge? Below is a list of principles I have used to turn my ceiling into the floor that others could build upon. So that they could do greater tings than me.

Here are some key elements for developing potential leaders around you:

EDUCATION – My personal spiritual and natural discipline, reading, attendance to seminars or professional training, and seeking mentors or coaches, places me in the right condition to lead others. I cannot lead others until I have mastered leading me. Increasing my IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and my EQ (Emotional Quotient), places me in the right position of influence. A great leader will seek to become a 'University' first so that they can lead others to greater knowledge and action.

INSPIRATION – Inspiring others is vital to helping them do great things. It takes relationship, goals, rewards, story-telling, and encouragement to help others dream and wander into places they want to run. A well placed inspirational conversation can be the catalyst to remove the lid from the life of the person you are leading. Inspiration has often been the motivator of great feats.

MODELING – It is important for a leader to model what you want to see in the life of your followers (relational attitudes, communication style, personal standards, work ethic, etc.). When another person can see what you are saying, it becomes more easily understood. If I have been willing to come to the edge in front of the people I am leading, it will be easier for them to come to the edge when I ask them to take a risk.

APPRENTICESHIPS – Call this discipleship or mentoring or coaching, we must work side by side with others. Proximity is a great teacher. By taking the time to work in setting with others to disciple, mentor, and coach them, we can duplicate ourselves and help key people do greater things than they have ever done. One of the best ways to develop great leaders is to work alongside of them so that they can see and feel your passion for something. Apprenticeships do just that.

SUDDENLIES – Faithfulness is the orthodox way to success. But, do not take for granted the special moments that can become 'suddenlies' in the life of others (historic cultural moments, tragedy or crisis moments, formative moments in a persons life, and even divine interruptions can become teaching points).  I have seen moments tip the scale in my life. It is a proven historical fact in companies and even governments throughout history.

When the Lord spoke to me that I would never be great, but, that the people around me would be, I had a choice to make. Would I accept this method of delegation and revolution? Could I place my ego aside and speak into other people's lives and call them to greater leadership than me? What I have learned in 30 years of ministry is that these approaches build trust between me and the people I have led. Maybe instead of thinking that I can reach the world by myself, I must multiply myself in others and see the exponential growth that results. 

I have learned personally that when called to come to the edge of a cliff, I will be pushed. God has not often asked me to stand at the end of a cliff and simply enjoy the view. He has often pushed me one more step. And always I have been able to fly. It is because of this that I have called many others to come...