Often times leaders are not always measured on their wins or successes, but rather their mistakes and failures. A leader is supposed to have wins, therefore they are often times overlooked; however those mistakes stick out like a sore thumb.
I have had the opportunity to both work in leadership positions and provide leadership consulting for publicly traded corporations, political entities, correctional organizations and ministries. In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to speak at conferences and consult with churches all around the world. Over these years, I have made and witnessed many leadership mistakes. As I look at mistakes in the the context of ministry leadership, there are 7 common mistakes that seem to be prevalent among ministry leaders:
7 Mistakes Church Leaders Make
- 1. Blame It On Ministry- Ministry leaders will blame their unwillingness to make tough decisions on the fact that “It’s Ministry” or “I know they are not doing so and so, but we are a church.” Yes it might be a church or a ministry role; however that’s no excuse for not holding people accountable, expecting excellence and demanding a high level of performance. If secular leaders are expected to perform, shouldn’t ministry leaders be held to even a higher standard… Not only perform, but perform w/ integrity! Don’t Blame It On Ministry!
- 2. Copy Cat- Often times ministry leaders try to replicate what they see popular churches, ministries or pastors doing. Don’t get me wrong it’s important for ministry leaders to learn from what other successful ministries are doing and apply those ideas, concepts, practices, systems and theories contextually to their ministry. The problem with Copy Cat’s is they listen to a pastor at a conference or see something another ministry is doing and try to 100% replicate it, without understanding the history, context and DNA behind those decisions, practices or systems. Don’t be a Copy Cat!
- 3. Only Learn From Within Christian/Ministry Circles- Ministry leaders make the mistake of limiting their learning circles; they only learn from other christian leaders, christian books, other pastors, church leaders etc. Ministry leaders should open up their arsenal to learn from what industry and major corporations as well. Specifically, as it relates to leveraging technology, leadership principles, HR practices, talent search and understanding customer service. In most cases, industry is normally 10+ years ahead of the strategies/practices that ministries are implementing. Industry, including the sports industry can teach ministry leaders a lot of valuable information; ministry leaders must be willing to seek and learn. If we open our eyes, we can find those God moments an learning all around us. Don’t Exclusively Learn From Within Christian/Ministry Circles!
- 4. Hire The Wrong People- Just because Johnny was successful at so and so church and has so and so seminary degree; doesn’t mean he or she is the person that is going to take your ministry to the next level. Don’t limit your hires to individuals that only have ministry experience. Don’t hire someone simply because they have a good heart or because they were a good volunteer. Every hire is of extreme importance to the success of the ministry, take your time and give each hire the time and effort they deserve! Don’t Hire The Wrong People!
- 6. Think They Own Their Staff – Just because your staff members have signed on the dotted line and accepted their calling to work for your ministry doesn’t mean they can’t leave and go somewhere else. Often times ministry leaders can get bent out of shape because a team member decides to leave their ministry for another ministry. The reality is this – the staff are not yours in the first place, you must learn to live with an abundance mentality and God will send you more than enough great team leaders. If someone wants to move on, create an environment where they can come to you openly about their decision without repercussion. If God is the one doing the “calling,” He can pick up the phone and call a team member to a different ministry at any time. The staff are not yours, they’re God’s, your ministry is not yours, it’s God’s. Don’t think that you own your staff!
- 6. Trade Success For Learning – Success can be the greatest impediment to future success. Success overshadows failures and covers up blind-spots. As ministry leaders have more success, they tend to have the attitude of: “What can I learn from so and so? What can so and so teach us, look at where we are?” Ministry leaders must be lifelong learners and not allow their success to be a substitute for learning, development and growth. Don’t trade your success for learning!
- 7. Don’t Seek God- This one should be common sense; however many times a leader will make a huge decision without taking any time to seek God. Seeking God Should Always Be Part Of The Equation!
Share your experiences or thoughts on any of these 7 mistakes! Feel free to add more to the list.