People Will Not Follow Ministers Who Do Not Grow

People Will Not Follow Ministers Who Do Not Grow

National Association of Christian Ministers Leadership Series

By Michael Mooney, NACM Exec. Elder

Personal growth is a major part of the human experience; although some people experience much more than others.  Growth without change is inconceivable; therefore, it follows that both are a part of the process.  The natural desire for familiarity is likely one of the biggest reasons why change is often resisted (Welch & McCarville, 2003).  Ironically, in spite of the predictability of change, it still equals things that are unknown and thereby diminishes predictability.

Ordained ministers have an obligation to growth, but even they are not above resisting change (Mann, 2000).  It seems normal to think of leaders as being initiators of organizational changes.  However, it is not as obvious to note that they too undergo changes through personal growth.  “The Servant Leader nurtures his or her own desire to grow. Growth is power. People will not follow a leader who does not grow…Growth means one has to take action” (Tellerman, 1999, p. 2).  As a result leaders must perpetuate continual improvement if they want to maintain a following.  It is not enough to think that they are ministers of the Word, and for this reason alone people should listen. Before ministers become preachers of the Word, they should be doers of the Word that they compel others to obey.  James says, “If someone listens to God’s word…he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror” (Jas 1:23 GW).  The Bible should cause every one of us to see ourselves in the light of needed improvements.

Goleman (2002) describes this transformation as being self-directed –meaning that leaders must accept responsibility for their development. Yet complacency has the power to make people forget the necessity of such directedness.  That is until life brings remembrance in the form of wake-up calls.  Whether through emergencies or determination, growth usually begins with a stage of awareness.

    • The first stage of personal improvement is the discovery of who you wish to become as a minister.
    • It is from the first stage that leads to the second: discovery of who you presently are.  Self discovery is where comparisons and contrasts are made between your real self and your ideal self.
    • Next is a more focused approach where personal strengths and weaknesses are considered within the context of maximizing your positive personal qualities for the glory of God.
    • Taking this information, in the fourth step you begin to seek situations where you can exercise your strengths to further improve them. Then, you position yourself within the reach of a support group or relationships of encouragement and accountability (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002).
    • Lastly, you call upon the Holy Spirit in every step of the way to reveal to you His holy insights regarding your life and development.  Following this protocol will ensure that you are never in a stagnate state of non-growth, and will increase the effectiveness of your leadership and ministry.


Robert Neuschel utilized his understanding of the Judeo-Christian heritage to establish a theory of several key qualities that accompany servant leaders.  He believes that such leaders should facilitate their people to perform at their highest levels of competence by helping them find significance in their duties. This is in conjunction with leadership’s efforts to develop the whole persons (mind and soul) of others through continual growth processes.  The attitude that leads this way does not see their positions of leadership as social advantages, but rather as a means of personal growth that raises everyone around them.  Neuschel’s concept is that knowledge is not enough to lead others because people will not follow leaders who do not personally grow themselves.  Therefore, knowledge must translate into actions that water the seeds of growth (Tellerman, 1999).