At NewThing, aspiring leaders have the opportunity to learn and be developed by more experienced leaders and pastors of churches with a track record of reproducing. We call this leader in training a resident. Residents are one of NewThing’s four primary values.
While the stated value of residents is just a few years old, it is an outgrowth of our conviction that at the heart of a reproducing church is apprenticeship. A leadership resident is simply an apprentice church-planter. This idea is based on Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul gives him the following advice: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
We are often asked questions about leadership residents, and one of the most frequent questions we are asked is “What should I look for in a resident?” I want to focus the remainder of this article on that all-important question of what to look for in a potential resident.
When looking for a resident, we encourage people to look for these three baseline qualities:
A leadership resident is not a fully-developed church-planter. The idea of a residency, is to develop this leader into a church-planter. However, most residencies are one year or less so this person must be the kind of apostolic leader whom you can already see drawing a large group of people together in order to build and sustain a sizable launch team that results in a successful launch. The trajectory of their leadership needs to be such that this seems like a logical next step for this leader. If you can’t see this in the person you are considering, then you may have a solid leader, but you don’t likely have a future church-planter, and consequently, you don’t have a leadership resident.
This is a characteristic far too often overlooked leadership. In Philippians 2, Paul challenges us in this way: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). A Leadership Resident needs to have this type of humility, especially when someone challenges their character, their leadership style or their growth areas. An apprenticeship is designed to refine a developing leader, stretch him or her and give experienced leaders the opportunity to speak into his or her life. If we have an applicant who seems to show signs of arrogance, over-confidence or just plain pride, we won’t accept that person as a resident.
The idea of relational intelligence is grounded in an understanding that all people are created in the image of God; that people matter to God and so that must matter to us. An aspiring leadership resident needs to be someone who looks for the best in others. They genuinely care about people and want to help them find their way back to God. On a very practical level, when it comes to relational intelligence I encourage people to consider the “Caller ID” Test. In other words, how would someone respond when your potential resident’s name appears on their screen? Is your immediate reaction to pick up or to let it go to voice mail? If your gut reaction is not excitement or enthusiasm, then this person likely lacks relational intelligence.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Think of it like Patrick Lencioni’s qualities of an “Ideal Team Player” – Humble, Hungry, and Smart. These qualities, like his, are a great and simple reminder of the kind of person you are looking for when recruiting a resident.