When is the last time you had an ICNU (I SEE IN YOU) conversation?

If you haven’t had one recently you are missing out on one of the most fruitful conversations a leader can have.  ICNU conversations can be the catalyst to solve a huge problem in your church.

I’ve talked to many leaders over the years, especially in the local church and I have heard this statement repeatedly. They’ve said to me,  “Kevin, the biggest need in my church is, more leaders.”  “If we just had more leaders, we could fulfill all God has called us too.”   If there is any place in need of healthy, mature and activated leaders, it’s in the local church.  Why?  because the local church is God’s plan A, and even with all its flaws, it’s how God has chosen to fulfill the great commission.  Leader’s identified, equipped and activated is vital for us fulfilling our commander Jesus’ commission. Most of us have more leaders in our midst than we realize, they are all at different levels of maturity and engagement, but they are among you.

First, a story and then I will unpack three simple things about ICNU conversations.

A few months ago at a small gathering of about 30 leaders in the local church that I pastor.  I was desiring to transfer this conversational tool to all my leaders, so I decided to just demonstrate it.

After scanning the room, I noticed a young man, new to our kids ministry team sitting with his wife and new baby son.  I said, “Jared do you mind standing up for a moment and being a live illustration?”  With a slight hesitancy, Jared stands up with his son in arms, and I immediately went for it!  “Jared, this is what ICNU (I SEE IN YOU).  I have noticed your faithfulness and consistency.”  As I started to speak to Jared and the spotlight was on him, a hush came over the room and everyone was fully leaning in.  I continued, “Jared, I have noticed how you care for the boys in our kids ministry and I am impressed.  I know that these boys can be very squirrelly.   You do such a great job connecting with them, you’re passionate about Jesus and helping the kids know and experience God’s grace and love, it’s actually very inspiring. Jared, you’re steady, you don’t get flustered easily, your investment in these boys is making a difference, they really look up to you and I just want to say huge thank you for your investment.” In this moment,  I glanced over at Jared’s wife, large tears were beginning to form in her eyes. They were tears of joy as she heard blessing and life being spoken over her husband.   “Jared I also want you to know that I so appreciate how you love your wife and cherish her, its obvious to me, that you are best friends, have a great relationship and make a great team.  Jared, ICNU the makings of a great dad, even the way you’re holding your son right now with such care, I can see that you love your son tremendously.  I see that you are going to speak life and destiny into him every day.  Thank you, Jared, for being a faithful minister of Jesus to our kids at church, thank you for loving your wife well, and thanks for being a father that proactively speaks life into his son.” 

As I wrapped up my ICNU conversation, I asked Jared, “How long did that take for me to speak those things about you?” He said, “I don’t know maybe a minute or two at the most.”  “How do you feel?” with gratitude in his voice, he said, “Kevin that felt great, it was really powerful.”

We as a group unpacked the moment, I asked the leaders gathered what they noticed, and many observations were made, but I think the one that resonated the most with everyone in the room was how simple yet intentional that moment was with Jared. We discussed that we as leaders just need to more intentional with the authority we’ve been given to be a blessing.

Here are three simple practices to help you be intentional with your ICNU conversations:

NOTICE – be very attentive to what’s already happening in your midst, and take note of it.  One of the ways I do this is what I’ve heard as “walk around leadership.”  Basically, you are trying to make notice of the church family while they are serving on a Sunday, small group or at an event.  This is your chance to be an intense observer of people and their actions, their language, their serving.  What qualities are you looking for in a leader?  It’s easy to notice what needs to be improved, which is necessary, but especially take note of what is going well among those you are leading.  Here in the USA, we use this phrase, “Skin in the game,” which speaks to a personal investment and commitment.  Be aware and increase your attentiveness to seeing those who, not only currently, have “skin in the game” but also those who have the raw materials of leadership, just waiting to be grown.   When you increase your attentiveness, and take note of what you are seeing, you’re building the content for your ICNU conversations.

SPEAK IT OUT  –   As you practice walk around leadership, catch people doing things right and let them know.   Celebrate an action, and attitude, a job well done, a healthy conversation, faithfulness. Celebrate every win you see!  When something was improved, speak about it with gratitude.  Call it out, when someone goes beyond the normal expectation.   Honor them in front of other people. Gratitude and thankfulness, even for seemingly small things go a long way in helping leaders grow into their full potential.  The power in the ICNU tool is not just noticing, but actually communicating what you noticed.  Express it verbally, face to face, either privately or with others present and watch the Holy Spirit anoint the words of blessing.

PLANT SEEDS –  In the story about Jared,  I ended our ICNU conversation with thankfulness for what he was going to do and be.  I said things like,  “You’re going to be a great dad, a faithful and loving husband, a man who proactively speaks life into his family.”  Our privilege as leaders at any level is to speak life and encouragement, to prophecy and plant seeds into those we are raising up.  As you take note of the things you see in the natural, also prayerfully take note of the potential you see in each leader for the future.  Ask God for insight, for seeds of encouragement that you can plant through ICNU conversations.

In 2 Timothy, Paul challenges Timothy saying, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And 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. (2 Timothy 2:1-2, NIV)”

I’m also praying for you to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. I’m praying for you to grow in your ability to NOTICE the reliable ones and invest in them.  Start making deposits by SPEAKING OUT what you see in them.  Follow that up with and PLANTING SEEDS of vision that will stir faith in them to reach their full potential in Christ.  May your 2017 be prosperous and full of leadership multiplication.

In Christ,