Too many leaders face present-tense challenges while living more in yesterday than today. Below is a list of characteristics of church leaders I’ve known who show this tendency:
- Your faithfulness to spiritual disciplines was more intense in days gone by. If the acme of your Bible reading, prayer, etc., is a mountaintop in your past, you’re probably leading today on the basis of yesterday’s power.
- Your illustrations of personal evangelism are not current. When I first realized as a pastor that my stories of evangelism were dated, I had to face the truth: my stories were old because evangelism was something I used to do more faithfully.
- You think about a position you formerly held more than your current position. It’s easy to do, especially when the current role is a difficult one. Somehow, we block all the negatives of that previous role and remember it now as if it were almost heaven on earth.
- It’s been a long time since you’ve read a book. Books challenge us, stretch us, move us, and teach us. If you haven’t read a book in a while, you’re leading on yesterday’s knowledge.
- You know no more about God today than you did years ago. Do an honest gut check here – what do you know about God you did not know last year? Two years ago? If you’re in a spiritual rut today, you got stuck somewhere in the past.
- You have a tendency to remind others of yesterday’s victories. Sometimes we retreat to telling past-tense victories, especially when present-tense wins are few and far between. If you’re the one who keeps bringing up the past, you might be leading from there.
- You believe few people can teach you anything. If you believe that few people can teach you anything today, it may be because you think you’ve already learned all you need to know. That’s leading from the past tense.
- You’re unwilling to allow others to evaluate your leadership. Evaluation is risky. Honesty from others can be brutal. At the same time, though, an unwillingness to allow others to speak into your leadership limits your growth to yesterday’s lessons.
- You’re still haunted by yesterday’s pain. Some of us have led difficult congregations, and the wounds are deep. If, however, you allow yesterday’s pain to make you a tentative leader today, you’re leading from the past tense. In fact, you may not be leading at all.
What other evidences of leading from the past tense come to mind for you? Are you leading from the past?