By Dr. Matthew Lee Smith

As I walk down the aisle at the grocery store each month I become more and more amazed at the way the ‘heat and serve’ section grows. Just a few moments in the microwave and ‘presto’ your ‘meal’ is ready. Yummy! Or at least that is what the company wants you to believe.

As almost anyone who knows me will tell you, I am the king of the crock-pot! Before I leave for the office in the morning, I put the roast, a sliced yellow onion, secret herbs and spices and some whole potatoes into the crock-pot on low for 8-9 hours. When I serve my slow-cooked, signature mouth-watering roast beef there are always calls for seconds.

If you know good food, you quickly taste the difference between something that has been ‘nuked’ and something that has been slow-cooked. While the ‘3-minute wonder’ has an exterior taste, time-roasted food always tastes better, right down to the last morsel.

Leaders come in two different flavors: ‘microwave’ or ‘crock-pot.’ What are the differences?

Microwave leaders have been ‘hurried up’ to lead. Without taking the time to do the deep training and not allowing them to ‘come up through the ranks,’ microwave leaders are surface only. They can look good on the outside and work well under normal situations. They are good for the hurried or harried ministry or organization in the short term. However, for the long haul or in difficult situations, they simply fall short of the spiritual nutrition they need to deliver the leadership necessary at a time when it is most needed.

Crock-pot leaders have been ‘slowly seasoned’ to lead. Leadership takes time, plain and simple. Good leadership takes mentored training and experience (think of Jesus and the disciples). You can’t rush effective, deep, prepared leadership. When things grow rough – and this is what leadership is designed for – good leaders have the seasoning necessary to draw from their previous training and experience to say like David of old, “I’ve killed a lion and a bear and I will kill this uncircumcised Philistine as well.” Confidence and effectiveness come over time.

As you consider your leadership development strategy, ask yourself these three questions …

1. Do I promote people into leadership positions too quickly?

2. What training and experiences do I expect future leaders to possess?

3. How can I help these future leaders by designing a strategic plan for the training and experiences necessary for their preparation and growth?