7 Warnings for Aspiring Leaders

Almost on a weekly basis I hear from a young pastor who wants to grow as a leader. He feels the pressure placed upon him and knows that others are looking to him to steer the church on a healthy course. Most of these leaders are humble, knowing that ultimately Christ is the head of the church. What they also know is that there are expectations of their position, decisions that have to be made which are not clearly defined in Scripture, and that seminary didn’t train them to make.

Sometimes it seems I’ve given the same advice many times; either reminding myself or to another pastor. The more times I share the same concept, the more it becomes a short, paradigm shaping idea that summarizes the basic issue the leader is facing. What isn’t always clear is that I’ve learned these concepts mostly by living these concepts. I’ve made more mistakes in leadership than I’ve had success. That’s what this post is about. These are some warnings I’ve observed first hand in leadership positions I’ve held. I’m trying not to continue to live them and I’d love to help other leaders avoid them.

Here are 7 warnings for aspiring leaders:

  • What you “settle for” becomes the culture.
  • Mediocrity isn’t created. It’s accepted.
  • Your actions determine their reactions.
  • Don’t assume they agree because they haven’t said anything.
  • You’ll never get there just “thinking about it”.
  • If you’re the leader, they are likely waiting on you to lead or release the right to lead.
  • What the team values becomes apparent by your actions, not your words, no matter how well spoken they might be.

What warnings would you share with aspiring leaders?

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Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson

As pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church a church leader and the planter of two churches, I am passionate about planting churches, but also helping established churches thrive. I thrive on assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. (For more information about these services, click HERE.)

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I'm not gonna buy the hype that somehow we can better market the church if take a survey and then address the top-ten issues. The reality is that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); in other words we will fabricate excuses to cover the truth. All these reasons are subterfuge for the one true reason: they shun the, "Light for fear that (their) deeds will be exposed." (John 3:20b). Not one of these folks mentioned an improper presentation of the Word of God. The Good News is that we know the #1 reason why 'most' people reject a church and the best way to address this problem is to lovingly expose and confront it. Oh people will still walk out, but at least they'll know why they're leaving, rather than buying into their own lies.
— Dave Wells
My first Sunday visiting a church the pastor used every racial epithet imaginable in his sermon. He was trying to make a point and there was some context for the slurs. But, it was shocking to hear from the pulpit words that would've made me cover my children's ears if they'd be sitting with me. My take-away: this pastor knew, when preparing his sermon, that not one person of color would be sitting in his pews; he was absolutely assured there would be no members or visitors he needed to be sensitive towards. When I met him in the shake-hands-line after the sermon I opened my mouth to protest and he physically used my hand to pull me past him so that I could not stop to talk (he had made eye-contact during the sermon and seen my shocked face). Incidentally, the church had the saddest children's program (cold, dark basement room with ONE class for K-12 consisting of about five kids). There was zero signage and when I asked someone where the kid's program was they said they'd been attending for years but had no idea where the room was. Then, at the coffee hour I was handed one dixie cup of red kool-aid for myself and my two kids to share with a stern warning not to spill it on their new carpet. Needless to say, that was our first and last visit. I left wondering how this private, rich, old white people's club possibly earned the name "church" on their sign out front. I know this is an extreme case but I've never forgotten it. I live in a pretty liberal northern town with a big university and I just hadn't imagined this kind of behavior went on in my own backyard.
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I am amazed! All of this complaining about God's people seeking to be friendly and show love by greeting one another (even if not always done to your expectations) is the height of consumeristic, "what about me?" faux Christianity. Sure God's people don't always get it right, but these are petty complaints. If these were stated by unbelievers it might be one thing, but it seems to me, that almost every post is by someone with a great deal of church experience. Let's go to church to worship God, learn and love one another. Then go into the world to love and make disciples. Come on people show some grace and be a light of love!
— Ralph Jones

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