IVP - Online Pulpit - The Protégé Path: Cultivating a Leadership Development Culture in Your Church

June 18, 2012

The Protégé Path: Cultivating a Leadership Development Culture in Your Church

by Steve Saccone

As a young, aspiring ministry leader, I wondered what it would take to excel in the years ahead. My quest began with a calling and a vision. A plethora of questions drove my learning and curiosity, and immeasurable drive and passion fueled my quest. What I didn’t have initially, though, was a mentor to guide me in a personalized, customized way. I didn’t have someone who was willing to take the time necessary to guide, sharpen and motivate me to be who God uniquely designed me to be as I gained insight into the realities of ministry and leadership. Unfortunately, seminary doesn’t accomplish this kind of development either.

That’s the dilemma I believe many young leaders face.

That’s the dilemma the church is staring in the face as we ponder how the next generation of leaders will be developed.

It’s going to take a culture change in the church. It’s going to take women and men who decide to intentionally build processes and systems and paths that facilitate transformational development.

As my journey evolved, God led me to a few key mentors who have altered the trajectory of my ministry and my entire life. Though not the path I expected, it’s been transformational, personal and influential. As a result, I’ve come to believe more deeply than ever in the power of being a mentor. And perhaps more significantly, I’ve come to believe more deeply than ever in the power of being a protégé.

In essence, a protégé is someone who desires to master their craft and discover their true calling through the mentorship of another. Protégés have a humble, teachable heart and a deep longing and need to seek the guidance and wisdom of another. Protégés are hungry to grow and are passionate about excelling in all aspects of life and leadership. At the core, they know they can’t do it and don’t want to do it on their own. Joshua was Moses’ protégé. Paul was Barnabas’s protégé. Timothy was Paul’s protégé. The disciples were Jesus’ protégés. Ultimately, we have to decide whose protégé we will be, remembering that to be a great mentor, we must first learn to be a great protégé. That’s where the culture of the church must change.

But there’s a huge gap in the church. My experience and research has repeatedly revealed that there is a significant gap between a protégé’s strong desire to grow as ministry leader and the ability to find a substantial mentor who knows how to offer a customized, personal and transformational investment. Herein lies the great dilemma in developing the next generation of leaders.

As I moved from being a protégé to being a mentor, my conviction to do something about the gap grew deeper. As a result, in 2005 I initiated a leadership experiment called the Protégé Program, which is a customized, holistic development process that serves young and future ministry leaders. It is designed to shape their character, calling, mission, competencies and creative potential.

Over the course of this two-year journey, I come alongside protégés to help facilitate a personal, customized development plan for each of them. I seek to serve as a growth catalyst for their character formation, help them navigate the complexities of relational leadership and coach them in areas of mission, team building and organizational leadership. I help them craft a unique learning experience that sharpens their communication and stretches their theology. I challenge them to become entrepreneurial leaders who know how to face failure as they cultivate a life of initiative and risk. Real transformation and growth become a reality in their lives.

protegeOP.jpgI realize that not everyone has access to the kind of customized, personal development that the Protégé Program offers, nor can most pause their entire life and enter a two-year leadership development program. So, I recently put the DNA of the Protégé Program inside a book—Protégé: Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders. This book can serve as a way to help pastors and ministry leaders codesign their own protégé journey no matter what age or experience levels they have. In addition, the book intends to help them gain insight into developing the next generation of leaders—protégés—around them.

The DNA revolves around essential five areas:

  • Character Transformation
  • Relational Leadership
  • Effective Communication
  • Missional Formation
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership

Truth is, God is using a powerful movement to answer people’s deepest searches and longings. It’s called the church. And God is using certain people to lead the church: you and me. It is a high calling, one that requires the best of who we are and the kind of devotion this world has never seen and doesn’t think possible. Ultimately, we are all God’s protégés, called to learn from the Master and Creator of humanity. We’re also invited into a way of life that pushes us to be protégés as well as mentors to and for one another. Let’s follow in his footsteps and give the best of who we are to the One who gave his everything to us.

sacconeOP.jpg*Steve Saccone is a director of leadership development at The Highway Community in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he trains and develops emerging leaders, staff and volunteers. A specialist in leadership development and inner life formation, he also founded and directed The Protégé Program, a global leadership experience for future entrepreneurs, church planters and spiritual leaders. *

Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at June 18, 2012 8:53 AM Bookmark and Share

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