Meanderings of a Minister

Not Everything You Have Been Told About Leadership Is True
June 2, 2011, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Articles

If you are like me, you have a tendency to read books on leadership and with each turn of the page, you feel more and more guilty about what you are not doing right, what you are doing wrong, or even what you don’t understand about what to do or not do.  Sometimes, this is because God is using these books to stretch and grow you as a leader.  Other times, it just might be because we have bought what Gordon MacDonald, in his book, Building Below the Waterline:  Shoring Up the Foundations of Leadership, calls leadership myths.

Myth #1.  I am supposed to save the world all by myself.  This might also look like I must save the whole town through my preaching, my ministry or my church.  The reason this myth is dangerous is because the failure to do so, which is nearly universal, leaves people with guilt and shame piled high.  It steals our joy and leaves us disillusioned with ministry and the Christian life.  We elevate ourselves above Jesus Himself by thinking everyone should respond enthusiastically with the gospel.  The rich, young ruler walked away from Jesus.  The Pharisees rejected Him and Judas turned Him in.  We must not buy this lie.

Myth #2.  Time is running out.  There is too little time left.  Now, MacDonald says, and I agree, that we must live everyday as though it were our last, but we must also be willing to plan as though we still have a lifetime.  If we are not careful, we allow the tyranny of the urgent to overshadow that which is really important because we feel like the time is simply too short to stop and smell the roses, build a friendship or enjoy a hobby.  While we must look for each and every divine appointment God gives us, we should also periodically take some time to sit back and dwell with Him.

Myth #3.  A leader must be available for all emergencies.  When you get right down to it, what does it truly mean that someone is sitting in the waiting room while the professionals work on your loved one.  They might provide some support for family members, but this will be provided later as well.  As a pastor, it seems like people want to call the preacher the second something bad happens.  I have beat the ambulance to the hospital at times.  But what did I really accomplish other than giving the person a chance to be reassured which, although important, is not at all as important as the trained professionals that are actually bringing treatment.  Don’t get me wrong, I try to be there for my people and their traumatic experiences, but rarely, if ever, have I actually been any real help that could not have waited.

Myth #4.  Rest, recreation and leisure are second-class uses of time.  I admit this one is my defining myth.  I think that a nap means I’m lazy.  A break means I am weak.  Sometimes, if I am not careful, this will even manifest itself to me in thinking time spent in prayer could be better spent elsewhere.  While one of the Ten Commandments mentions taking time to rest and breathe, we struggle with this until we have weakened ourselves and our relationships to the point that they are non-existent.

Myth #5.  It is somehow more spiritual to burn out in ministry.  I have even said myself, “I would rather burn out than rust out!”  The reality is that both of these options lead to being out.  When God wants us out, He can take us home.  Until then, let us not grow weary in doing what is good.

If you have fallen prey to any of these myths of leadership, try reading MacDonald’s book or simply following the opposite of the myth and seeing God do a mighty work that can be sustained and replicated time and time again in and though you.


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