From prison to ReTrain: Russell’s story
Mon May 20, 2013
9 types of leaders in Scripture
Mon May 20, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
5 bits of wisdom for the professional Christian woman
Sun May 19, 2013
by Shandel Slaten
Sat May 18, 2013
by Hugh Whelchel
Resurgence roundup, 5/17/13
Fri May 17, 2013
Dangers Leaders Face
Being in leadership is dangerous.
The Bible is full of warnings and examples of this truth. The devil is always lurking in the shadows to sidetrack, plateau, neutralize or flat out destroy Christian leaders. It is at times overlooked that 1 Peter 5:8 is in the middle of a passage directed to leaders. Leaders are often the first target of the enemy of our souls and the ministry.
We have all observed many well-known, godly Christian leaders who have fallen due to financial greed, sexual misconduct, and/or a variety of poor decisions. It seems that there are some obvious and common dangers related to such things as money and sex, then there are other dangers that fall into the category of deeper issues related to insecurity, ego, power and where our sense of identity really lies.
I personally assumed that once I was experiencing victory in the more obvious areas, I was relatively safe, only to discover that there was an entirely new cluster of dangers that were much deeper and woven into the fabric of my mindset and habits. Many of them were devious distortions of the gospel.
These deeper issues proved themselves much harder to identify and more difficult to deal with and very likely were the root causes for falling rather than the obvious sex and money issues.
Let's explore two of these less obvious dangers that leaders face. They are absolutely real, but not often discussed. They are not often taken seriously, but they are absolutely fatal.
Choosing Acceptance over Honesty
There is a strong desire in each of us to be liked, accepted, appreciated, respected, and popular with those we lead, but there is a real danger here as well. Jesus spoke to this in Luke 6:26, "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you."
Eugene Peterson in the Message renders it, "There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests." Is it wrong to be liked, popular with those you lead? Yes, if it comes at the price of truthfulness. John Maxwell has said, "If you need people, you can't lead people."
My sense of significance and acceptance needs to be rooted and fixed in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and through his resurrection, not wrapped up in the people I lead. If I have a deep unhealthy need for acceptance and popularity with those I lead, I will find it difficult to be objective and hold them to a high standard. I can ask myself if I am bothered to the point of ineffectiveness when the people I lead are unhappy with me. Do I tend to water down what needs to be said in order to not risk being unpopular?
With Jesus' help, I want to focus more on being a man of consistency and integrity rather than being well liked and popular.
Sometimes I can be a first-class chicken in dealing with the real issues. Jesus, speaking to the Jews in John 5:41 in the New Living Translation, says, "Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me." That is where I want to be, by his grace, getting off the emotional yo-yo of others’ approval or disapproval. As a leader I need to be able to deal with being unpopular, temporarily disliked, or misunderstood. It goes with the territory!
Choosing Artificial Harmony over Healthy Conflict
This is a close cousin to the first one. Many in leadership view conflict as something to avoid at all cost. There is a belief that conflict is harmful, divisive, and counter-productive. Or is it? It could very well be that If no one gets a little pushed out of shape during a meeting, we probably didn't put all our issues on the table.
Tumultuous meetings are often signs of progress. Tame ones are often signs of leaving important issues off the table.
I recall a very painful experience I had when a conflict arose between a key leader and me. I wanted to go to him and discuss it but was strongly warned that I should not do that, but simply walk away and "sweep it under the carpet." I discovered others who had been involved with this leader who believed that harmony was to be maintained (albeit a veneer of harmony), conflict avoided even if it meant that lies were told, discussions were shut down, and people were let go.
So many were hurt because of his desire to skirt around conflict and not deal with it. I think it comes back to insecurity on the part of a leader who, deep inside, is afraid to be wrong or have his opinions challenged.
Insecure leaders are dangerous people.
Dr. Larry Crabb expressed it well when he said, "My personal need for significance and security can only be genuinely and fully met in my relationship with Jesus Christ." Getting it met some place else leads down a road of a gradual, but sure, leadership destruction and is flat-out idolatry.
Choosing harmony over conflict will shut down creative interaction, rob us of great ideas, keep us in the same old rut, and set a precedent for dishonesty and game playing, which will cause more conflict than the conflict itself might have caused.
I must admit it is hard for me to welcome opposing viewpoints to my thinking. It always stings when people disagree with me and tell me in no uncertain terms. But the alternative is not an option for me any longer. Conflict and tension are well worth the price for the prize that is gained.
Have Dave Kraft speak at your church about Leaders Who Last.