15 Types of Struggling Church Leaders

Some of the greatest people I’ve ever met are pastors, staff, and lay leaders who just love the Lord – so I’m hesitant to write this post. However, I’ve also met many leaders who are struggling with their ministries. Maybe you can use this list to determine if any describes you today:

  1. Demoralized leaders – These leaders have simply been through too much. They want God to use them, but they’ve given up. Tomorrow does not look bright.
  2. Discouraged leaders – Leaders in this camp haven’t given up yet, but they’re leaning in the wrong direction. Every day, they look for anything to give them hope.
  3. Distracted leaders – These leaders are living out their current role while longing to be in a different role. The “greener grass” is always on their mind – which limits their focus in their current ministry.
  4. Defensive leaders – Challenge these leaders, and they’ll blow up. They want to be successful, and accepting responsibility for anything less than the ideal is tough to do.
  5. Dictatorial leaders – You know these leaders. They’re seldom, if ever, wrong. Their philosophy is the proverbial “my way or the highway.”
  6. Directionless leaders – They want to lead, and they’re in a position to lead, but they’ve lost their way. Somewhere, they’ve been diverted from their focus, and they’re wandering.
  7. Disorganized leaders – These leaders have all kinds of ideas and plans, but the vision seldom comes to fruition. Plans – if they’re made – lie on a table at the bottom of a stack of unsorted papers.
  8. Disconnected leaders – These leaders have built so few relationships that they have no team around them to carry out their vision (if they have one). Or, they’ve been hurt enough that they prefer to close the door of their office and minister from a distance.
  9. Deceitful leaders – In public, they’re one person; in private, though, they’re somebody else. We call that “hypocrisy.”
  10. Disillusioned leaders – They believed in the church until they led a church. Few things are like they thought they would be (or should be).
  11. Depressing leaders – They almost refuse to see the positive in anything, and they bring down the morale of everyone in the room.
  12. Disdainful leaders – These leaders believe no one else is as good as they are; thus, they disdain the work, ideas, and successes of others. Often, these leaders are simply not nice.
  13. Dishonest leaders – They lie – and then lie about not lying.
  14. Dull leaders – They lack passion and order in their preaching, their teaching, and their leading. People tolerate them rather than follow them.
  15. Devoted but distressed leaders – These leaders love the Lord, and they love their church. They’re giving all they can to the Lord’s work, but still it seems like something’s missing. They rejoice and weep at the same time over their work.

Do any of these describe you? Tell us how we might pray for you.



  • mark says:

    I guess the same could be said for lay leaders as well as pastoral leaders. However, just remember that even though you may be disillusioned, disconnected, etc. you are still in leadership with the capability of affecting change which is more than can be done by the mere mortals. Those mere mortals might help you provided you did not start becoming fearful of them taking your leadership position and resort to dirty tactics to remove them from the picture. There are plenty of people within Christianity who know and/or have been told that they can never be in lay leadership because of something that they might not even know.

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    You might describe me as a “disappointed leader.” I began my ministry at the church in which I am involved with no illusions. I knew that it was going to be difficult. It was a small aging church that was pretty set in its ways. I was given pastoral charge of the church but I was not encouraged to assume a pastoral leadership role. Indeed it was not made clear to the congregation or to myself what my role was. I was told that if anyone asked me what my role was, I was to direct their attention to their attention to the canon for lay readers licensed to preach and given pastoral charge of a church. Otherwise, I was told to take a low profile and not introduce any major changes. No one, however, asked me what my role was. I believe that some of the difficulties that I experienced can be attributed to the lack of clarity regarding my role. While I can understand some of the thinking behind the hesitancy to be proactive defining that role, it created a situation in which misunderstandings easily developed.

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