Developing Big People

School Culture

A few months ago on the blog we looked at “7 Team Exercises to Build Unity on Your Team.”  We want to peel it back another layer this month and next month to look at some practical ways you can develop the individuals you are leading. 

“One of my main goals with our school, I want people to be happy with who God made them to be but in that context become excellent. I’m not responsible for anyone else’s development, I am responsible for mine. I am responsible for creating a culture and an atmosphere where every person can become their best.” -Bill Johnson

Okay, we might frame that quote and put it on our wall. As a leader the most important thing to know is that developing big people starts with developing yourself. We interviewed Pastor Bill, along with BSSM First Year Pastor, Joel Power, and BSSM School Planting Directors, Steve and Ruth Moore. They had a lot to say about what is most important to them when it comes to leadership development.

We combed over the interviews and have packed these golden nuggets into seven keys to developing big people. We are going to share four with you this month and next month we will share three more with some very practical resources for you to use to help you develop leaders in your school.

1. Know Your People


In order to lead someone well, you will need to have context. Knowing someone’s story and what is going on with them personally will give you insight into how to develop them best. Ruth had this to say, “Having one-on-one meetings is a good way to find out what He is doing and saying with people on your team. Our spiritual development of people is so individualized. You have to know somebody’s process if you want to develop them.” Steve added, “Your people need to be known. If they don’t feel known, you are missing it as a leader. Look at the life of Jesus; Jesus knew the disciples.” 

Feeling known is the same as feeling loved. Have you ever had someone you admired remember your name or an important detail about you? How did it make you feel? Taking an interest in someone’s life aside from what they are doing for your team will show people that you are invested in them. “Your goal and priority should be that people’s hearts are more important than the task they are completing. You have to live it and not just say it,” Ruth said.

Ruth also added that you should know your people’s strengths and weaknesses as well as their process. “I like to ask them their strengths and get specifics, ‘What do you want to grow in?’ We have them all (the whole team) listen to everyone’s answers because then they can learn from each other. This helps them know who to pull on and who to bring in on the places they want to grow. We write everything down as leaders so we can activate them.”

2. Build Buy In


It’s important to make sure people know you are for them and that they can trust you. People will come under your leadership with all sorts of different past experiences. In a way, as a leader, you might have to pay for the ‘mistakes’ of other leaders that have gone before you. If you love and value the people you are leading, you will seek to understand when someone is struggling with your leadership.

Joel put it this way, “The first month with my team is me taking hits; I’m moving past offense and adjusting.” Joel used the analogy of buying your first car. People shop around, they take the car for a test drive before they purchase. Sometimes people are still test driving your leadership in the beginning and you have to just show them you are reliable and trustworthy before they are completely sold and buy-in to your vision. 

“Your goal as a leader is not (just) to be a big leader, but to build big people. If the focus is building big people, you will look big because you are supporting and lifting others up,” Steve said. “When your team genuinely knows that you are for them, that you believe in them, that you are there for them and you are willing to go through pain to help them, it automatically creates buy-in from people.”

3. Establish Culture


Pastor Bill told us a story that is such a great metaphor for establishing culture, “I had a potted plant for 17 years and I transplanted it to a different one as we moved from Weaverville to Redding. In the next season it had flowers, I never knew it could grow flowers. It wasn’t until I put it in an environment that enabled it to become what it was supposed to. That’s what we do (as leaders); we create larger pots for people, an environment they can thrive in.” 

When people first join your leadership team, or come into your environment, there will usually be an adjustment period. Joel said, “I need to make sure the culture that I build, my life, is louder than the one they bring into the team.” He explained that having strong core values and leading with your actions is the most effective way to establish culture. Joel also added, “I make sure my team is familiar with the Kingdom Culture book. We discuss it together and make the culture applicable to any church and any environment they will go into…Model what you want to see. My team lives on a schedule, I want them to understand that spiritual growth comes off the back of daily discipline.”

4. Destroy Insecurity


Insecurity keeps people small. Here’s what Pastor Bill had to say, “It comes down to identity. We only compare ourselves when we are insecure. Insecurity says, ‘I want to look better than you’, or ‘I could never measure up to you.’ When a person knows who God made them to be, they never want to be anyone else. The goal is to build security in people, where they are satisfied in their own skin.” Identity is the antidote for insecurity, it is so important to get vision and speak identity and purpose over the people you are leading.

Encouraging people and giving them opportunities that are sure wins for them, will build their confidence. “It’s not enough to encourage people by themselves, you have to do it in front of the team. If you celebrate and encourage people in front of your team, people will own their stuff,” Steve said, “Go out of your way to find opportunities for your people.” 

Another way to help people feel confident is to have them gather their prophetic words and pick out key identity statements or words. They can craft these statements into declarations or “I am” statements. When people are secure in what God says about them and what they have to bring, they are less likely to be insecure and compare themselves to the people around them. Develop resilient people that identify with the truth over their life and recognize what they have to offer.


Keep a look out to get part two of this blog with the last 3 tips we have for developing big leaders. Next month we will include a list of great resources for leadership development, including some of our favorite podcasts and books to read and listen to with your teams. 

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