Why church leaders should imitate Sir Alex Ferguson (kind of)

Being a Manchester United fan gives me a strong bias towards Sir Alex Ferguson (though unsurprisingly, not Ronaldo) but being a leader makes me even more fascinated in him. How has he achieved such sustained success in an industry that has gone through seismic shifts over the past 20 years? The answer is that he is a great leader. Here's an example of this, in a quote from him found in this article:

"Some time ago, I took a deliberate decision with Carlos Queiroz [former assistant manager] that the way forward with our youngsters was that as soon as we identified they had the quality and temperament to become first-team players, then we would bring them into the squad and let them train with the seniors. This has made a huge difference to their readiness for the big time and they are able to make the most of a first-team chance as and when it comes along."

Why did this make such a difference? Because training next to Ryan Giggs (19 major medals, holder of United's all-time appearance record) will teach and inspire them in a way that training with their peers could never do.

Like all good leadership lessons, this is found in the Bible. Speaking to his protégé Timothy, the apostle Paul said, "You... have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra..." (2 Timothy 3:10). Because Paul had shared all those things with Timothy, he knew that this next-generation leader was ready to go: "fulfil your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5).

When I was 22 I was offered a position on the paid staff of Brickhill Baptist Church. I knew basically nothing, except that I loved Jesus and believed the Bible. And yet immediately I was allowed to attend the weekly meetings of the senior leadership team ("the elders"). They let me shoot my mouth off a lot, bearing with me a great deal, and no doubt they still have to! But I have sat in meetings with guys far wiser and much more mature than me for over six years now, and I know that God has used this to grow me in a way I simply could not have done any other way. One day I hope to be appointed as an elder, helping to govern the church. Like a player making his debut at Old Trafford, I will feel inadequate but not unprepared, and greatly encouraged by the older players around me.

Leaders, please don't waste this God-given season for you to influence your church and your nation far beyond your own lifetime! Clearly the elders saw leadership potential in me - but I was a long way short of being the finished article. Yet as they have invested in me they are also seeing a return as I develop and am able to carry more responsibility. Exactly what this means for the future is in God's mind rather than ours, but there's no doubt that we can look forward with faith, and confidence that we have prepared well.

Who can you see with potential? Ask God to show you who He has marked out for you to work with. And then get them training with the seniors - may great results follow!