You can’t invest in everyone. There aren’t enough hours in the day. If you are like me, you also don’t have enough ‘people energy’ to go around. We have limited resources to invest. How do you decide where to spend our leadership development time, energy, and resources?

Our default, as leaders, is to invest in those who show up to everything and those who are talented and skilled. Don’t fall into that trap! First, why are they showing up to everything? Second, talent and skills are distracting. Who cares if they can talk in front of people, play music, get stuff done, and draw a crowd if they don’t have love for Jesus and his people?

The leaders you pour into will probably be talented and present, but they must be more than that. This is what I look for:

Good Fathers and Husbands

The Apostle Paul was on to something when he made good fathers and husbands one of the first marks of an elder qualified guy. Marriage and parenting is a spectacular environment for leadership development. The husbands who are able to love their wives like Christ loved the church and the fathers who are able to protect, care for, and love their children are the guys who lead. They have proven servant leadership. To be a good father and husband you have to put others ahead of yourself. You have to be motivated by love and fueled by grace, you have to be dependent on the Spirit, and you have to know, speak, and apply the gospel.

Young leaders who love the Church and submit to leaders.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7

Young leaders have creativity, energy, charisma, and zeal. Invest in those that love for the church and submit to their leaders. Don’t invest in leaders who trash the church and their elders or the elders in other church or other churches. Don’t waist your time investing in leaders who don’t love the church Jesus died to redeem. Don’t waist your energy on guys who would rather be rogue lone rangers than submit to leadership. Don’t invest in young leaders who use cynicism to elevate themselves and put other leaders down. Criticism is great. You want folks who intentionally learn from past generations’ failures. However, you want to invest in people who do so humbly, with grace, and with respect. A submitted heart is

People Who Ask Questions

I often hear pining for teachable leaders. Questions are the visible fruit of a learning posture. Don’t waste your time investing in leaders who have everything figured out and already know everything. If they don’t ask questions and have a desire to learn, you won’t be able to teach them very much.

Messy People

Get excited about mentoring people with problems, sins, and bad attitudes. I am honored to be in leadership positions with people who consider themselves in process. They are repentant, receptive, and long for the Spirit to change them. They are a mess. The bar to get into the kingdom is: “I am part of the problem and I need a Savior.” This is going soil to invest in.

Brad A. Watson serves as a pastor of Soma Culver City in Los Angeles, California where he develops, coaches, and trains leaders to form communities that love God and serve the city. Brad is passionate about helping people live lives that reflect their belief and hope in Jesus. He lives in the west side of Los Angeles with his wife and their three kids.