9 Signs that Church Leaders are Not Really Leading

Many churches have great leaders. Some churches, though, have people who seek to lead but don’t really get there. That is, some church leadership is not really leadership. Here are some signs I’ve observed what that appears to be happening:

  1. “Putting out fires” consumes the leaders’ time. Everything they do is trying to fix a problem rather than seeking to cast vision and guide direction. They’re only catching up with themselves.
  2. Leaders are constantly trying the latest fad. They can’t always explain why they try something new, and they’re not patient when they do try something. If it doesn’t quickly work, they look toward something else.
  3. Nobody’s raising up the next generation of leaders. Strong leaders are always working to raise up new leaders; they don’t get so busy doing other stuff that they have no time left to invest in others.
  4. The staff have no sense of direction. They do their job, but not typically out of a deep commitment to a compelling vision. They do it because they’re supposed to.
  5. Genuine leaders in the church are wondering where the leadership is. Often, these folks are business persons who know what real leadership looks like. They know when they don’t see it.
  6. Leaders continually put down other ministries and leaders. They see other leaders not as partners in the gospel, but as competitors—and you can’t lead your church well when you’re more focused on critiquing others.
  7. Leaders are doing nothing intentionally to grow as leaders. They either think they’ve “arrived” at a certain level of leadership, or they’re not interested in putting forth strategic effort to keep growing.
  8. The overall goal of the leadership is simply to get through the next week. Few people are thinking beyond the next few days, and nobody’s casting long-term vision. Even behind the scenes, nobody’s planning for the future.
  9. The leaders don’t do much evangelism, nor do they disciple one-to-one. They may tell others to do it, but they don’t have the time to do either. Some view their preaching time as all the evangelizing and discipling they need to do.

Pastors and leaders, let’s be honest with ourselves. Sometimes, one or more of these characteristics mark us as well. Which one is an area of needed improvement for you?     

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