5 vulnerabilities in leadership

1. Making a difference in the world

Good leaders want to make a difference in a world. But the temptation to fall for misguided ideas about success can become discouraging to faithful leaders. The test of discouragement and the temptation to pursue self-validation are real for leaders who want to make a difference. Leaders must resist the deceptive tendency to fish for affirmations from others to validate a feeling that we’re making a difference. Leaders should also be aware of the dangers of the comparison trap that could lead them to devalue the work they do (see: II Corinthians 10:12)

2. Feelings of inadequacy for the calling

Leaders in the Church easily battle feelings of inadequacy because of the challenges that come with leading people. The many expectations and demands that people place on leaders can cause feelings of inadequacy (see: Galatians 1:10).  Leadership comes with constant reminders that our sufficiency and strength must be from God (II Corinthians 3:5-6; 4:7). We understand the apostle Paul’s question, “Who is equal to such a task?” Insecure people should never be put in leadership. 

3. Unrealistic diversity in the work

The pressures of church leadership are often more than any individual feels capable of handling. This reality is further complicated by prevailing confusion about a pastor’s role. Is a pastor a shepherd who tends a flock or an entrepreneur leading a business and marketing a product? Pastors are viewed as spiritual teachers, overseers, biblical scholars, administrators, CEOs, financial advisors, professional counselors and friends. If leaders try to be effective in all these areas, insecurity and inadequacy will paralyze and discourage them. We need to review the biblical responsibilities of leadership often (see – Leadership in the local Church).

4. Unstable backgrounds in a leader

A close look should be taken at a potential leader’s upbringing and background. Relationships with parents form the basis for one’s identity, security and relationship skills. If a man, for example, had a father who degraded him or remained distant from him, he will be more vulnerable to using leadership as a means of building self-esteem. This relates in principle to the prohibition in I Timothy 3:6.

5. Fear of making mistakes or being wrong 

No one likes to be wrong. Some people, however, make a tight attachment of their egos to their need to be right. For such individuals, being right is a matter of identity and being wrong is perceived as a flaw of character. Some leaders wrongly assume that if they let people see them sweat or find out they’re wrong about something, the people won’t respect their leadership. You are not qualified for leadership if you feel you always have to be right or at least, viewed as “right.” This too relates to the warning of I Timothy 3:6

A word about insecure leaders

One of the most dangerous individuals to a leadership team is an insecure person. They will repeatedly disrupt the unity of team leadership based on how they feel about themselves. Insecure people tend to wear their sensitivities on their sleeves and attach their egos to their ideas. They drag down team with their self-serving focus. Maturity in godliness is essential in each individual leader for their to be team unity. I Corinthians 13:4-8 is a great measure of maturity in godliness. (See: A life transformed by love)

Personal note

My current role as senior pastor on our staff is a leader among equals — a leader to  the leaders. Our equality as a leadership team is in our shared office of eldership, not in years of wisdom, experience and function. This means that younger leaders must be able and willing to defer to those with far more experience. If new leaders allow pride and insecurity (and these traits always travel together), they will miss the valuable learning from those who have acquired wisdom with years of work. Yet older leaders must be willing to recognize that wisdom doesn’t fully reside in one generation.

Without hesitation, I can say that I’ve experienced a small taste of heaven in the unity and fellowship of our team leadership

Steve Cornell

See: Four questions leaders must ask

This entry was posted in elders in the Church, Leadership, Local Church, Pastors, Wisdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 5 vulnerabilities in leadership

  1. Tim Allen says:

    RE: #3 My number one obstacle to submitting resumes to churches. I know my strengths and weaknesses, my passion and calling, but will never apply to a place that is expecting Jesus to send in His resume!

  2. RGB Rao says:

    I came here by way of your weakness post and that via the Greer post. Given what you say about insecure leaders, I think then we can say that there is at least one form of weakness that is not good.

    It is a weakness that terminates in the self, i.e. a dead end. Biblical weakness on the other hand has as its endpoint God – dependence upon God.

    So historically there have been leaders who apparently struggled with the weakness of insecurity – Henry Martyn, David Brainerd, etc. However ultimately these folks ultimately found themselves on their knees and thus moved forward.

    Thanks,
    ~ Raj

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