You shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.  Exodus 18:21

Churches need leaders; businesses need leaders; all organizations need leaders.

I’ve been the Senior Pastor of one church for 49 years. Years ago, I spent time – a lot of time – with one person I thought would make a great leader. Though having lots of talent, his insecurity caused friction with everyone.

He left the church with accusations directed toward many but mostly targeted at me.

I realized that you can’t grow an organization with some leaders. And you can waste a lot of time with them. They are talented people but not the team-types needed to build upon.

I decided to know the difference. To help, I developed the following “7-Point Leadership Checklist”:

  1. Does he listen, or debate? If you are the leader, you want discussion, even debate, but a foundational leader (you can build upon them) listens first and then discusses or debates. Debating early and often means that he isn’t one heart with your vision.
  2. Is she positive or negative? Observe how she begins a conversation.  Does she open with a negative or sarcastic comment? Initial sentences reveal more character than the rest of the conversation. A great but negative leader is perceptive enough to change course while conversing. But that first comment in the conversation reveals character.
  3. How does he get along with his wife? If a woman talks negatively about her husband in public, she will do the same with you. A husband who honors his wife or a wife that honors her husband will honor your leadership.
  4. What is her life temptation? She has a primary life struggle. What is it, and does she realize the problem? I’m not concerned about a leader’s inadequacies; I’m more concerned about self-awareness.
  5. Does he talk about the Spirit of God? I lead a church. Leaders that are led by the Spirit, talk about the Spirit more than vision, planning, or teams.  Ephesians 1:17 teaches that all of us are to be led by the Spirit.
  6. Details, details, details. I rent apartments as a sideline. I can tell by looking at the inside of a potential renter’s car as to how they will maintain an apartment. Great leaders aren’t inclined toward details, but great leaders manage details very well.
  7. Most important: will they have your back in a crisis? This is an innate sense that you must finetune. I once had a staff member who, during a crisis, would talk to others about their own talents or abilities. When someone puffs their ability during your difficulty – oops! Big problem for you. What is your sense of their loyalty?

This is a quick check list that I’ve used to discern who I will spend time developing or mentoring as a leader.

Considering Jesus and his leadership of Peter and Judas… you want strong leaders but, the more talent, the more difficulties. Peter failed but he changed. Judas failed and then quit.

Your leadership will have legacy if you develop those who fail (Peter) but who learn and then grow. Your organization will suffer greatly if you cannot tell the difference between a Peter and a Judas.

Overall, I would rather fail at developing leaders than to not try. Leaders who control everything, or want to micro-manage, make no sense to me.