Why do so many church leaders fall? They fall for the same reason that all Christians fall. Each of us are drawn away by our own evil desires and enticed. Leaders in the church aren’t exempt from sin. No one is.
Nobody craves failure, especially not spiritual leaders, but the truth is that it happens. Why does the rate of Christian leadership failing seem so high though? Whether they lead a small church, a massive organization, or a family, here some eight reasons why ministry leadership fails.
Lack of Faith
This one might seem a little crazy to think about. How could someone ever have joined church leadership if they weren't fully invested in the faith? A lack of a sovereign mindset is prevalent, though. Some leaders, over time, don’t see and trust God at work in all their life situations.
Lack of Vision
Many leaders see themselves as simply placeholders. They hold a job, make some decisions, but they don’t advance their organizations. Why not? Simply put, they lack vision. We all serve a big God. In fact, He’s bigger than we could possibly imagine. When we don't act on God's call, and try to grow ourselves and push the boundaries, we are letting Him down. The church should create vision, and live it out. If a leader doesn't have a vision they can still be a leader, but they're not going to go anywhere.
Lack of Ethics
Our Christian leaders are still humans, so they will sin, however they are still held to a higher standard. It's a responsibility that comes with the job. A leader’s credibility depends upon two qualities: what he or she does (competency) and who he or she is (character). Leaders must have integrity and moral ethics. There’s no question about it. Any leader who expects to slip in some not-so-honest deals or not-so-kind words is headed for failure. They will always be tempted to cut corners. When they let a few little slip-ups go by, they will eventually let bigger ones slip by.
If they continue to let things slip, then they are likely to lose the faith of their followers. Leaders should not ever ask their congregations to do something they wouldn't do, and vice versa. They should be proud to lead by example, and stick to the higher standard set before them. There should be no conflict between how they live and what they believe in and teach.
Lack of Self-Care
If a leader doesn’t take care of themselves, no one else will. Unless a leader is blessed with incredibly empathetic followers, it is unlikely anyone will pick up on signs of fatigue and stress. Leaders are counted on to produce, but they aren’t superheroes with limitless energy. While leadership is invigorating, it is also tiring. Like anyone other Christian, leaders are susceptible to feeling drained, depressed, and demotivated. Those who neglect their physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual needs are headed for disaster. Self-preservation isn’t selfish; it’s vital to the health of those they lead.
Lack of Accountability
Accountability is a safeguard, but it’s not bullet-proof. Accountability, by itself, doesn’t work. It’s not realistic to only ask others to hold you accountable. Your heart must be focused on honoring God’s Word too. Accountability simply adds another level of security in the battle against sin. It’s healthy to say to those we trust, “I’m struggling in this area. Can you pray with me and ask the hard questions from time to time.” The enemy loves to work in darkness and deceit, so leaders need to be unafraid to reach out when they need someone's help.
Lack of Flexibility
Leaders are sometimes seen as strong-willed people, and can be stubborn about the wrong things. Sure, you’ve got to have a bit of grit and resolve if you expect to make decisions and lead other people. However if they have the leadership style of a mother goose over her hens, they headed for failure. Leaders know how to compromise well, listen to others, and make choices based on the best available options. Good leaders know how to demur. Good leaders know when the decision they’ve made just plain stinks. There is no value in not admitting when you don't have the best idea for a situation. In fact, according to Jesus, leadership should be characterized by servanthood (Mark 10:42-45).
Lack of Humility
Leaders all across the world get power hungry and forget about where they come from. After a while, they start to believe that they are better than others and start to forget the real reason they got to where they are today. Christian leaders can face the same problems with pride and entitlement. Some of these leaders act as if their position of leadership is totally secure regardless of their performance. These leaders treat others in the organization like means to an end. It's all about them because they feel they deserve special treatment.
Lack of Communication
When a leader already lacks focus and vision, that typically breaks down communication as well. Some Christian leaders delude themselves into believing that committed followers can sense their goals and carry out their wishes without being told.However, their followers can’t possibly understand a leader’s intent when the leader isn’t even sure what it is. When misunderstandings arise, managers blame their people for lack of effort and commitment, rather than recognizing their own communication negligence as being the main source of the problem.
Christian leaders aren't immune to failure. Though God is there to help guide them, sometimes they get too wrapped up in the position to listen to His help. Pay attention to these warning signs, and don't be afraid to address it with your Christian leaders should they start slipping up. Tell them when it's time to take a honest look at themselves. Otherwise, they will be leading a group of very lost Christians away from the true Word of God.