Home > Blog > FAT vs. GRAFT

June 21, 2016


By Kadi Cole

Perhaps you’ve heard of the acronym “FAT” when recruiting volunteers. When you are looking to build your team, start by asking who is:

Faithful – Who keeps showing up consistently? Who is faithful in their walk with Christ?

Available – Who has the time when someone is needed? No sense asking people to volunteer if you need them while they are scheduled at their jobs.

Teachable – Who responds well to directions or correction? It is nearly impossible to lead people who are not teachable (and they will also end up driving you crazy).

However, when it comes to developing leaders, you have to expand those pre-requisites. I call it GRAFTS.

Generous – People with leadership qualities and potential are generous. They freely give compliments, encouragement, feedback, recognition, time, expertise and their own possessions to make things better. On the flip side, be wary of stingy people who want the limelight, the credit or mooch off other people.

Reliable – You can count on them. They do what they say they are going to do. They show up on time, follow-through and say yes and no appropriately (don’t be fooled by overly committed people-pleasers). Reliable leaders are also trustworthy with people. They don’t gossip or put people down. This is especially important as leaders begin to oversee and pastor people.

Available – This is from the FAT acronym, but it doesn’t go away when someone moves into leadership. In fact, it can actually become a bigger issue as people have more and more opportunities to volunteer and lead because their availability for new things will diminish. As a leadership team, it’s always good to talk through who your key leaders are and what all they are involved in already. If they are overcommitted, you are responsible to help lead them into healthier choices and boundaries – even if that means narrowing their focus at church for the sake of their family or health.

Faithful – The longer someone is in leadership the less we tend to assess this issue. We make assumptions, and people learn how to “look faithful.” It’s important to have regular deeper conversations with your leaders about their faith journey, spiritual practices and home life, especially as you are considering them for higher levels of responsibility.

Teachable – I’ve found that teachability can look different on a leader than a new believer or volunteer. When someone has been a part of the team for a long time, especially in a leadership role, new direction or changes in procedures can sometimes be very challenging for them to get their heads around. No one wants to be the “We’ve always done it that way” guy, but if they were a part of creating those plans and it’s working, it’s hard to be excited about changes. Mature leaders, however, know how to process this well, work through their own doubts privately with their leader, and then continue to build and encourage the team toward the new goals.

Servant-hearted – Jeff Bogue from Grace Church in Akron, Ohio (@jeffboague) always says “If servant-hood is beneath you, leadership is above you.” This is so true. Look for someone who gets joy from doing “unnoticed” things… picking up trash as they walk around, parking in the spot farthest from the church’s front door, giving up their preferred seat for a new person. I’m particularly observant about how a potential leader treats someone they don’t know or who has less influence on the team – this shows me how much they value people simply as God’s children. But then I watch just as closely how they treat those in higher-level leadership roles and compare the two. If they are the same or they treat the unknown person better, that’s the kind of servant heart I want on my teams. However, if they schmooze the people above them and discount the people below them…that usually only brings trouble in the long run.

As you graft people into leadership roles, use this simple checklist to make sure you are identifying and recruiting the right people for a fruitful and productive team.

What kind of leaders have you recruited in the past?

Is there a quality you need to start identifying in someone before you offer them a step up in leadership?


Kadi Cole

Kadi Cole (@kadicole) serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Christ Fellowship Church (a multi-site church in South Florida) where she is the creator and Director of their School of Leadership. Having been involved in local church ministry for almost 30 years in various roles, Kadi has spent the last 15 years in full-time ministry focused on leadership development, ministry strategies and multi-site expansion. Kadi and her husband, Matt, have been married for 20 years and have one son, Ethan.


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