Leadership Talk: Finding Gold in Potential Leaders

We can unlock the God-given destiny in others by seeing their potential and not their problems

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Pastor Mark Varughese is the Founder and Senior Leader of Kingdomcity, which is a global church in multiple nations. He shares with us his methods for raising up leaders for this growing network.  

How do you reproduce leaders?  When you are raising up so many churches, you must encounter many people who are dealing with their own issues and pains.

I have a few convictions that form the baseline on how I identify and reproduce leaders. One of them is this statement – “God can use you while He changes you.” Oftentimes we come into ministry looking for people or leaders who are polished or perfect, but discover that everyone will have flaws. So I take risks on leaders.

I do this because of my personal journey – in the last ten years, God has used me, but He has also changed me. He has continued to transform me, while I am engaging in ministry. This gives me the freedom to invest in leaders while giving them a safe place to fail.

“You can also call these two qualities hunger and humility… you have to possess these two things to be a leader.”

When you’re willing to take chances on people, this leads to more leaders being developed. A lack of leaders is a lack of seeing the gold in people. Gold doesn’t sit on the surface. You have to dig deeper to find it.

So how do you identify that gold inside of potential leaders? 

I’m always subconsciously looking for two qualities: teachability and drive (or initiative). It’s hard to have one without the other. There has to be a willingness to learn and initiative to do something. You can correct a lot of other issues, but it’s hard to use someone who doesn’t have the desire to learn and grow.

You can also call these two qualities hunger and humility. I can tolerate almost any other character flaws and work through them, but you have to possess these two things to be a leader.

They say that a good leader has to learn to be a good follower. Can you tell us about your own mentors and leaders?

I didn’t so much have appointed mentors, but it was about the people from whom I received training. The first person I would mention is Pastor David Storer. He really shaped me in the area of discipleship.

Mark being prayed for by David Storer, Canning Vale, Australia, 2000


My dad is a mentor to me too, but not because we had chats and constant conversations or input. It was more that he led by example, not too much in ministry.

There was one other person who greatly impacted my life – it was my algebra teacher. He taught me the principle of resilience. When you look at a problem and you have no idea how to solve it, you look at it again. More than algebra, he taught me life skills. This resilience now works for me in multiple areas.

There are also other pastors who mentored me, including Bill Johnson, Ravi Zacharias, and Brian Houston. I can think of about 10 pastors who have had a big influence in my life.

Can you share an instance where a leader played a key role in a life decision you made?

In the middle of 2005, while serving in Lakes Church in a full-time capacity, I was feeling a restlessness that had been building up for a while. In the middle of my own struggles and confusion, I remember having a strange desire to buy a world map. I stuck it on my desk and would spend chunks of time just staring at the world, its cities and its nations.

I went to my then pastor, Neil Smith, with this desire. He was the first person to take a risk on me in terms of ministry. I will always honor him for that. He saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. In expressing my feelings, I told him I had a strange desire to “go on a rollercoaster.”

Neil was gracious enough to invite me to the Gold Coast in Australia, which has some great roller coasters. He said that if I could sit through a couple of days of meetings with a few of his pastor friends, to dream, pray and connect, a few actual roller-coaster rides on the Gold Coast were mine to enjoy.

That was a divine set-up. The meetings with other pastors opened the way for prophecies which eventually led me to plant the first Kingdomcity church in Malaysia.

None of this would have happened if Neil hadn’t believed in me and helped open the door for what would become my ministry.

For more from Mark Varughese, check out our previous conversations with him at the links below:

Saying Yes to God Over and Over

The Story of Kingdomcity

Leadership Talk: Overcoming Disappointment

Leadership Talk: Embracing Cultural Diversity