Normally, an article on leadership and self-development is written from a positive perspective. Titles such as, “Follow these five steps for success…” or “How to create team synergy” are common examples. They each present positive steps a person can take to ensure goals are achieved. Articles such as these show us how to lead and live as God intended.
This article, however, does not follow the expected format. Instead of presenting a series of positive points, it presents a series of negative points that once followed will limit a person’s progress in life and ministry. These points are common pitfalls in young ministry leaders and lead a person down a path of self-sabotage.
At times, it has been helpful for me to hear honest feedback from those above me in the chain of command. We always need affirmation and encouragement, but often what is most needful is correction given by a trusted friend or leader. The book of Proverbs often speaks about the necessity of correction and wise counsel.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction,that you may be wise in your latter days. Proverbs 19:20
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction. Proverbs 3:11
With this in mind, let’s jump into the five points and see what lessons can be learned.
1. LET A LACK OF CONFIDENCE GUIDE YOU
Fear and intimidation will hold your influence at a low ebb and keep you in a cave of small, easily-achievable goals. If you let a lack of confidence guide you, you will only feel comfortable leading those that have inferior intelligence, wealth, and people skills.
SOLUTION: Be secure and lead with a healthy sense of confidence.
Secure leaders are “ok” leading people that are smarter, more popular, and more talented than they are. Secure leaders who have a desire to grow will intentionally put themselves in an environment that is bigger than they are. Rather than letting “bigger” people intimidate them, they allow “bigger” people to challenge them.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
2. HAVE A “MY WAY IS THE ONLY WAY” ATTITUDE
When a person steps onto the stage of life, they expect life to unfold in ways that are comfortable to them. They have ideas about the way things should be. Sometimes, these ideas are faulty or even selfish. In leadership, if an “I want it my way” attitude exists, it serves to alienate a person from the accountability needed to sustain effectiveness.
Immature leaders want everything to be accomplished as they see fit and often see nothing else. They want friends, leaders, and followers that make them feel comfortable. They want the people around them to tell them what they want to hear. In their own eyes, they are always right. Sadly, when things don’t happen exactly as they see fit, or when they don’t get their way, they get offended, discouraged or worst of all – leave leadership entirely.
SOLUTION: Be flexible, teachable, and moldable. Lead and live with the firm understanding that you have a lot of room for improvement.
The best kind of people are those who are able to work with different kinds of people and are able to mesh with people at different spiritual levels. They are open to outside feedback and are “ok” when people tell them “no.” Rather than expecting perfection from others, they relate to others with grace and patience. They are “ok” doing things differently than they have done in the past. They don’t have to always have their own way. They are able to submit to the leaders above them, even when they don’t understand a course of action.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3.
3. TRY TO BYPASS THE NECESSARY CHANNELS OF PROMOTION
There are countless young leaders across the country leaving or “switching” churches because they feel underutilized. They think they don’t get enough time in the spotlight. They want to be up front more often. They want their churches to allow them more space to use their gifts and talents. Rather than starting at the bottom like everybody else and building a foundation of servanthood, they expect to start at the top. They expect leaders above the chain of command to roll out the red carpet for their whims and wishes and submit to their own time schedule. They don’t really “feel” like putting forth the work and effort it takes to be honored or recognized. Rather than abiding by the job description given to them, they create their own job description – one that aligns with their own expectations.
SOLUTION: Be willing to work for what you want. View leadership requirements as necessary channels of promotion, rather than hoops to jump through.
Certain freedoms are reserved for those who produce results. It’s that simple. Leaders who are “ok” starting at the bottom and are willing to work will always rise to the top. To be trusted with much, you must show that you are faithful with little. Certain leadership positions demand the prerequisite of being faithful and fruitful for extended periods of time. People that scratch, clamor, and push others aside for promotion usually don’t deserve it.
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10.
4. BLAME OTHERS FOR YOUR UNFULFILLMENT AND LACK OF SATISFACTION
Those who are unsatisfied with their place in life have nobody to blame but themselves. If a person does not feel challenged, it is because they lack the proper self-motivation and drive. Immature leaders want the people in their context to baby-feed their spiritual growth. They want others to do everything for them.
SOLUTION: Be proactive and take ownership of your personal growth. Hold yourself accountable.
Most of the time, goals are accomplished and vision is fulfilled in spite of struggles, hardships, and opposition. You must become your greatest advocate, yet at the same time your greatest critic. If others do not push you to improvement, you must push yourself to improvement. The condition of your life is the sum total of your own choices; nothing more, nothing less.
For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:5—9.
5. EXPECT OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
Many, when viewing the path to success, see an overnight process. They believe that healthy foundations are built in a single day’s time. They see the wealthy, the fruitful, and the wise, and perceive that the journey to such places is easy. This perspective is not rooted in reality.
SOLUTION: Be consistent over the long-haul and endure the time it takes to build the right foundation.
People who are wise are wise because they’ve lived a long life the right way. The wise have learned from many mistakes and have experience built upon consistency. The fruitful are those who have planted and planted and planted, regardless of the results. Their fruit is the result of constant toil and sacrifice. Their fruit did not come easy. The wealthy are wealthy because they started making the right decisions a long time ago and managed those decisions over time.
The successful make the right decisions early and then mange those decisions for the rest of their lives. The greatest thing to give your life and ministry are the right things, over and over again.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24—29.