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How are leaders formed? The greatest moments of formation in my life as a leader have been the times I felt the weakest and had to respond with some radical form of obedience to Jesus.

As 6-month-old Christians, my wife and I were asked by another denomination (Foursquare was unavailable where we were stationed in the Army) to pastor a church in Germany. I tried to explain that I hadn’t even read the Bible through yet, and knew nothing of theology.

But the leader in charge explained that the church had split, and no one was left but us. I had not even been attending. And my wife had only attended a few times. It was stupid … but it worked! During the 18 months we were stationed there in Germany, all of the people who had left returned, and many more were added to our numbers; by the time we left, a mini-revival was in place.

The only explanation for that is God. He chose us to lead, and we did our best. The rest was up to Him. He promised He would build His church, and He did. And He does that through leaders He has appointed.

The question is: How? Let me offer these few simple observations:

Leaders are formed by responding to their calling.

If I read the Bible correctly, leaders are called before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and formed in their mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13, Jer. 1:4-5) to fulfill that purpose. But we must all respond to that calling at some point in order for formation to continue past the womb.

It requires a conscious and intentional response, which leads to a willingness to be discipled by someone and/or some institution of learning (such as Life Pacific College), which leads to my second observation. How have you responded to your calling? That’s how you are being formed.

Leaders are formed in circles of learning.

For years, in the Pentecostal ranks, we minimized the need for academic learning, believing that all we needed was the power of the Holy Spirit; and in some very specific settings that was surely the case. However, over time, people who are only power-based will find themselves lacking in both good doctrine and best practices.

And the best learning takes place when we are surrounded by people who will challenge our assumptions. What are you doing to improve your understanding of God, people and the church?

Leaders are formed through trials.

We’ve all known gifted leaders, people who could draw a crowd but were disasters in the making because of poor character formation. There are no shortcuts to the formation that happens in the crucible of trials. It’s where we find out who we are and what is still lacking in our character.

Moses was formed by a million people rejecting him. David was formed while his boss was trying to kill him. Paul was formed in multiple jail sentences. And so on. What crisis are you afraid of? Don’t be. God will use it to make you a better son or daughter—and fearless leader.

Leadership should not be thought of primarily as a position of honor but a place of responsibility. When we think that way, we avoid the pitfalls of pride that calcify our souls and make us unteachable. Instead, we embrace humility and find ourselves being formed into the image of Christ—the great Leader of eternity. May you be that kind of leader for a lifetime.

The Foursquare Church has three core Missional Objectives to guide our collective missional focus and develop a healthy culture in our churches. These include: (1) leadership development; (2) church and congregation multiplication; and (3) church health and transformation. Learn more about Foursquare’s Missional Objectives.

is district supervisor of the Central Pacific District of The Foursquare Church.