Hayne Schurz and his wife, Heather, have ministered the love and power of God around the world since 1989. After many years serving faithfully as the Missions Pastors of World Outreach Church and Directors of DOMATA School of Ministry, the Schurz’s have stepped out to travel to churches and nations. With a passion to train the untrained to reach the unreached, they bring the Word of God and His Spirit. Both Hayne and Heather are graduates of Oral Roberts University and RHEMA Bible Training Center and are the parents of three children, Grace, Daniel & Katie.

Developing Young Leaders
Hayne Schurz

Connect on Facebook, Twitter or the ministry site, www.TheGlobalSeedCompany.com devyoungleadersLionel Messi. If you are a fan of soccer (or “football” to the international audience), you are familiar with this athletic superstar. Awards and records continue to pile up for this young Argentine star. Widely regarded as the top footballer, Messi is considered by some to be best of all time. Where did his team, FC Barcelona, find such ability? In a youth league of eleven year old boys. Eleven years old! Sixth grade! FC Barcelona signed him to the club with a crude contract on a paper napkin. When he and his family moved from Argentina to Spain, the team covered the remainder of his education and paid a hefty medical bill for treating his growth hormone deficiency. High level of investment. High level of risk. Enormous return on investment.

In life and ministry settings, we often have young, potential leaders around us. Some are young in age, others are young in experience or leadership roles. But, can we identify and develop these diamonds-in-the-rough? Not only can we do this, we must!

Why is it so important? Why develop young leaders?

Because we believe in them.

Hopefully, we recall how empowering it was when we first realized that God believed in us and saw potential in us. Hopefully we remember people believing in us. My youth pastor asked me to lead a home group for teenagers while I was still in high school. Years later, a respected leader in my church asked me to teach a prayer course. These opportunities were wonderful, but the underlying feeling that people believed in me made a profound impact on my heart. We have those same opportunities around us.

Because we believe in their purpose.

Every generation has a perspective and voice that is unique to them. We need their voice, those ideas, that strength. In 1 John 2, John addresses little children and young men. He acknowledges they are forgiven, they overcome, they know the Father, and they are strong, with God’s Word abiding in them. He did not instruct them to wait until they were older.

Because we believe in our own purpose.

Leaders are equippers. We are in the people building business. Ministry leaders described in Ephesians 4:12 this charge, “their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (New Living Translation)

Because we are followers of Jesus.

Jesus and His disciples provide a clear and challenging model for developing young leaders. These twelve men were very likely quite young. While we do not know specific ages, we have some telling clues.

  • In Matthew 17, Peter was instructed by Jesus to take the coin from the fish’s mouth and pay the temple tax for them both. This tax only applied to men over twenty (Exodus 30). The other eleven disciples were with them but it seems possible that they were exempt by reason of their age, under 20!
  • Young men began following rabbis while in their teens. It’s likely they had completed their formal education by 12-15 and began working in family business (like James and John with Zebedee) unless an opportunity to continue their education became available through a rabbi.
  • It would be customary for men to receive a wife by age 18. We only see evidence of marriage with Peter (Jesus healed his mother-in-law in Matthew 8).
  • Jesus referred to His group as “little ones” in Matthew 11, Luke 10, and John 13.

Were they all teenagers? Maybe. But whatever the exact ages, the youthfulness of Jesus’s disciples is unmistakable. Jesus surrounded Himself with young leaders to develop!

Helpful Strategies

Let’s consider some helpful strategies in working with young leaders. (This is not an exhaustive list but hopefully, one that will spark more ideas for you and your team.)

Create a culture of development.

For FC Barcelona to find Messi was no accident. They have created a culture and implemented systems in their organization that locate and develop young talent. It’s not luck or coincidence. It is intentional and deliberate. We can and should do the same. Start where you are and grow it.

Resource them.

This addresses the question, what do they need to succeed? This doesn’t mean hand over the check book. But it’s an excellent discussion to stir creativity and problem solving. How far can you go with what we have available? How do we increase the resources needed?

And just like King Solomon, the greatest resource issue is not money, materials, or manpower. It is wisdom and understanding. Provide those resources through your time as well as books, conferences, seminars, interviews, etc.

Provide opportunity.

Jesus did this masterfully with His team. After selecting His young disciples, He put them into training. They heard His teachings. They watched His healings and miracles. They witnessed His compassion in forgiving the sinner and delivering the bound. But then He made a huge transition! He sent them out to do it themselves. He gave them clear direction and then let them go! Like a mother bird giving her chicks “flying lessons”, He nudged them out of the nest. Observation alone limits personal development. It blossoms when combined with active participation.

Evaluate and Coach.

No matter how great the preparation and execution, adjustments are inevitable. Ask questions. Listen and coach. Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am? Who do you say that I am?”

It is equally important to field questions. Create a safe environment for others to ask real questions of you. I love when the disciples would do this with Jesus. “Wow, that was a great parable again Jesus! By the way, what did that mean? I don’t understand.”

Like a coach, celebrate victory and teach in failure. Jesus rejoiced with them when they returned from ministry. But He also adjusted their focus from authority of demons to relationship with the Father.

Utilize Mentors.

Often in church and business settings, we have seasoned or retired workers with a wealth of experience and wisdom who could empower young leaders. A missionary friend of mine identified one of these men and made spending time with him a top priority. The counsel he received in their series of meetings helped hold him steady through many challenges. Identify those around you who could serve as mentors and pair them with those who need what they have. It’s powerful for both participants!

What can we expect in developing young leaders?

It is both reasonable and probable to expect the same results that Jesus experienced from His young leaders.

Side A

Proud: The disciples pushed away the children who wanted to come to Jesus. They had to overlook their own youthfulness to not see Jesus would welcome kids. Even Paul warned Timothy that a novice with responsibility may tend to prideful attitudes.

Impulsive: See Simon Peter. While his commentary was both right and wrong, you could count on Peter being first. James and John were just as impulsive as they offered to destroy two whole cities for not receiving the ministry properly.

Competitive: When James and John couldn’t get Jesus to give them seniority over the other disciples, they politely stepped aside and let their charming mom do their competitive dirty work. Another time, John offered this gem: John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group” Luke 9:49 (NLT).

Covetous: While we are quick to point out Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, it is interesting to note that Judas began with smaller problems, stealing from the ministry account, misdirecting funds, and lying to Jesus and the other disciples. This culminated with not just betraying Jesus, but to sell Him for thirty pieces of silver. Truly the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

Discouraged and fearful: When faced with daunting circumstances, these young disciples quickly dismissed what little resources they did have: their financial resources, a boy’s lunch, and Jesus Himself. Later, as they were scribbling their wills during a violent storm, they awoke Jesus just to accuse Him of not caring about their impending deaths.

However, before you burn the plans for developing young leaders, there’s more.

Side B

Good help: These young men handled the seating, food distribution, and clean-up of multitudes of 5000 and 4000 (only counting the men). They assisted Jesus with transportation, meals, lodging, taxes, crowd management, public relations, and possibly a little roof repair. This allowed Him to focus more on prayer and ministry.

Fresh revelation, insights, and ideas: It’s refreshing to hear Jesus put responsibility on these young men. “You give them something to eat.” “Who do you say I am?” “Why did you fear?” And then to see God working in and through them: “You are the Christ.” “Even the demons were subject to us in your name.”

Comfort and strength: Especially with the inner circle of Peter, James, and John, Jesus frequently found His young leaders-in-training as a source of comfort. We see this in His times of prayer and waiting on God (Luke 9), prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26), and mourning over the death of John the Baptist (Mark 6).

More of the same and even greater results: It is more than inspirational to hear Jesus tell these young men, “…the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do…” (John 14) The thrill of the mighty works in the four Gospels continues seamlessly into the Book of Acts. The profound teachings of the Gospels flow smoothly with the revelations in the Epistles. And the footprints of Jesus in Jerusalem and Galilee raced out to Lystra and Derbe, Corinth and Ephesus, and eventually you and I!

The results we see from young leaders are not exclusively Side A or B but an ongoing mix of the two. If the perfect leadership of Jesus faced challenges like Side A, we should not be surprised or discouraged when we do too.

A Final Thought

Carles Rexach, the talent scout and sporting director for FC Barcelona, is credited with locating and securing Lionel Messi in 1998. Some may wonder how could he see beyond an undersized eleven year old boy and envision the trophy collector he could possibly become. I don’t know the whole answer but I wonder if it may trace back to 1959 when FC Barcelona offered a contract to Rexach himself to play. He was twelve.