Growing Leaders Grow Individuals, Teams, and God's Church (by David Voorhees)

Under the ordained design of God, healthy cells grow and multiply to form more healthy cells. By contrast, cancerous cells prohibit the possibility of healthy multiplication. Unhealthy cells do not remain dormant; cancer toxins are wily, morphing as new medications are enlisted in the fight against them. These sick cells influence nearby cells to oppose and resist God’s ordained design for cell multiplication. So, the effort to produce healthy cells is a constant one, with attainable positive results. Growth precipitates growth. Likewise, spiritually healthy leaders infuse health in others near them because healthy teams grow healthy teammates. Healthy leaders consistently counter spiritual sicknesses that seeps into their teams through much prayer, both for and with their teams. Over time, healthy teams will discern that their leaders depend on the Lord and desperately yearn for him from the depths of their souls. How can they know? They’ll be inspired to grow. Spiritual cell-reproduction is infectious, motivating the multiplication of spiritual formation in our teams.

Theologically, this type of growth is rooted in Christ, who reveals God’s righteous character. God’s character was literally fleshed out in Jesus, full of truth and grace (John 1:14). As leaders intentionally tether themselves intimately into Christ, they will manifest the same character of God that Jesus manifested. Here’s why: Growing leaders joined to Christ are governed by God’s truth enveloped in God’s grace. Leaders of Christian truth stand in the sphere of God’s grace and are therefore more dependent on His ability than their own. The Apostle Paul exulted in this reality when he wrote, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand(Romans 5:1-2). Paul’s use of the verb “stand” visualizes our present reality as Christians, a reality that is established by the result of a previous act of God. “Stand” here is a completed action with ongoing effects, which can be understood like this: God’s prior work of justifying us at the cross leads us to take a confident posture of assurance and peace in his gracious presence!

Picture yourself standing in a spacious room. The room is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Imagine that every molecule in the room is being saturated by God’s gracious existence. Standing confidently in his grace is now our identity marker. When Christ’s leaders actively recall they are standing in God’s space of grace, it grows them from a core of confidence despite what others say. As a result, that security propels mutual submission on any team where the leader is not threatened by the team’s strength. Instead, the leader is sure enough in Christ to harness each team member’s talent. When we remember that we stand in (and therefore lead from) God’s grace, deep roots grow, and we are better able to serve teammates with grace.

At Boise Bible College where I serve, I have a growth-goal: to practice courageous leadership with humility, through grace. My expectation is that our leadership and staff will grow with me. Helping to establish a generation of healthy leaders with humility is a core institutional virtue. That growth goal aligns with our mission statement: to equip servant leaders who build up the church to advance the gospel worldwide. We believe that healthy leaders are better prepared to lead churches into health, so that more leaders are produced within that church’s healthy environment, so that even more leaders will rise up into that development cycle. Growth precipitates growth.

To help draw out spiritual results from our team, here are a few practices to reflect on:

  • Servant leaders submit beneath and align to the mission of the organization they lead. The college’s mission aligns deeply with my core philosophy for Kingdom work, which governs everything I think and do.
  • Practicing mutual submission “out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21) will benefit your team. It begins in your prayer closet and subsequently occupies the heartbeat of your office and hallways.
  • The mental shift from “I’m the sole leader around here” to “I’m a leader among other emerging leaders in Christ” infects the whole team. That demands humility of mind. As a result, the team begins to witness and celebrate God’s achievements through each department of the organization.
  • Because growing leaders are honestly assessing themselves on an ongoing basis, their personal growth influences their team’s growth. One example of this growth is seen in a culture of regular, monthly, honest team dialogue that sharpens and sustains team accountability.
  • Remembering the space of grace we stand in helps control our team’s temperament in a team meeting when we’re confronted or challenged. Recalling God’s grace-saturation point of the realm we stand in (1) empowers us to pause and listen without defensiveness, (2) enables us to acknowledge and validate the other person, and (3) energizes us to collaborate with them better.
  • Regular prayer-treatments as a team form a defense against Satan’s tactics to deteriorate and pollute the health of our team and our church. God’s Spirit knits teams together when they hear each other pray out loud on a regular basis.

Spirit-led leaders grow in the grace of God, reflected in the humility of Christ. Such healthy growth breeds a culture of mutual submission in their teams, which counteracts the cancer cells of egotistic, self-made, works-based inclinations. Leadership/discipleship growth through Christ-like humility is based on the infusion of grace. 


Derek Voorhees



Boise Bible College