There are many pitfalls on the path to good leadership. In this post we will discuss common hazards of Christian leadership. Knowing these hazards will better prepare you to lead well in your ministry.
Becoming a warrior is not an easy process. Just about every elite group on the planet has some type of crazy hard-core selection process. These tests screen out those who are either not willing or able to complete the demands of the job. Some will become injured. Others will succumb to the extremes of their environment (heat, cold). More will be worn down by mental and physical exhaustion. For some, the deprivation of comfort, rest, and food will push them to their breaking point. Becoming a warrior is no easy job. Living as a warrior is even harder.
I’m convinced Christians should embrace the call to live as warriors. I’m not saying every Christian needs to become a professional soldier, although there would be some valuable lessons learned. I’m referring to living out Christian convictions in a way that matches the commitment, sacrifice, and dedication of a true warrior. The ideas of being a Christian and a warrior seldom connect in the modern world. If more Christians would embrace the level of commitment, sacrifice, and humility of warriors, I believe we would see massive changes in leadership. In previous posts (Being a warrior for God, Part One and Being a warrior for God, Part Two), I identify several characteristics of warriors that should be embraced by Christians. In this post, I’ll list a few obstacles that stand in the way of leading like a warrior. I have to confess, there are times that my own life does not measure up. However, any progress in overcoming the obstacles below will only strengthen our impact in the world.
Lack of Discipline
You cannot be a warrior and be lazy. The same can be said about effective Christian leadership. Every few years, a new study will come out about the characteristics of effective leaders. These studies draw all types of conclusions. However, one thing is clear: effective leaders are disciplined people. They purposefully manage their time, resources, and contact with others. No one is disciplined by accident. Set goals. Maintain boundaries with your time. Manage your schedule. Remember, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” There is always something you can do today. Don’t wait, get after it!
A warrior has a limited amount of time to make complex decisions, sometimes decisions are made in seconds. Many Christian leaders wait too long to make a decision. Indecision is costly in ministry. Instead, why not maintain a close walk with God, cling daily to His promises, and keep walking ahead? Jesus is perfect. We are not. Seek to honor God with your decisions and leave the results up to God. Don’t get hung up on fear or stalled out with indecision.
A warrior cannot let fear govern what they do. The Bible also has a lot to say about fear. In sum, we humans are usually afraid of the wrong stuff. We should fear only God. Nothing else on this planet should be a legitimate source of fear. That’s a very high standard. In ministry, fear can stop you in your tracks. It can choke out your faith, courage, creativity, and initiative. Being a leader means trying new things and moving ahead in spite of risks. Don’t let fear control your ministry. Cling to God’s Word and let his promises help you battle being controlled by fear. Are you afraid of sharing your faith with another person? Let your dependence on God and his Word overwhelm your fear. Don’t let fear stop the good that God wants to do through you.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
Compromise can kill a warrior. Unfortunately, opportunities to compromise in ministry are as numerous as grains of sand on the beach. Several types of compromise that can kill your ministry like nothing else. Lust, the love of money, and an unhealthy desire for power remain at the top of the list. Most ministry failures are linked to compromise in one of these three areas. By the way, lust, money, and power happen to be the three most common struggles for most men. How many times do we have to be warned about the dangers of lust, money, and power? One more time…these threats are real. When we are aware of the dangers, we can be on guard.
For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.1 John2:16 (ESV)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)
A warrior is part of a team. Self-focused motives take away from what the team can accomplish. Ministry is not about you; it’s about Jesus. We have to fight to have the right type of focus. Are you trying to “win”? Or, are you looking for “kingdom wins”? Is your ministry a platform that makes you look good or does it make Jesus look good? Don’t let pride and self-focused desires stop you from sacrificing, serving, leading, and working to advance kingdom work.
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I wish every Christian leader would read this book. Although the book is written with businesses in mind, the principles shared in this book apply to everyone. whether you lead a church, business, or a family, the principles in this book are solid.
From Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls. This book was written with pastors and ministry leaders in mind. It’s a great primer on some of the common hazards faced in Christian leadership. Seasoned veterans of ministry and those just starting out will find great value in this book. Highly recommended.
Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby. This book is a classic on Christian leadership. It is filled with practical insights for Christian leadership and well worth a close study.