I used to enjoy sparring online with people in different debate forums. A response I received once jolted me a bit: "Experience has to count for something." Over time, my perspective has changed some. I still think there are pastorates out there for guys who have never done it before. At the same time, I definitely see the value of experience. So - wait a minute - the headline of this post is "How Leaders Grow," but the opening paragraph is all about experience. Yep. You guessed it. As a plant needs exposure to sunlight, water, and rich soil - it also needs time. And it is not true that experience is the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher.
No matter what academic program, personal development plan, or other strategy you employ for growing as a leader, I'm not sure you can learn certain skills without plowing headfirst into challenges. You cannot possibly anticipate how every person you lead will react in certain situations; you may be amazed that people can draw such varied conclusions from the exact same facts. Growing out of my recent evaluated experience, here are some areas I am developing personally, and I plan to develop some resources along these lines.
Pastor Billy Shaw is a full-time pastor, husband, and father with a passion for helping other pastors.