The best leaders I know keep growing. They never settle for mediocrity. They look for and tackle challenges that stretch them beyond their own comfort zone. Stagnation alarms them into action. On the other hand, many leaders stop growing at some point, perhaps for one or more of these reasons:
- They have no accountability. Nobody has permission to say to them, “You really seem stuck where you are in life” or “Have you ever thought about working on this issue in your walk with God?” No accountability often equals no growth.
- They’ve achieved their “dream.” They set their goals long ago, and they made it. The right church size. The right location. Popularity growing. People know their name. They don’t need to grow once they’ve reached the top of their mountain – even if their mountain no longer challenges them to trust God more.
- They’re tired. Leadership has cost them their energy and their spirit. The needs of their people are greater than the hours of the day. When you barely get through the day without being exhausted, who has time to grow?
- They’ve achieved the title, “Dr.” I’m an educator – and I believe 100% in advanced level training – but the leader who stops growing when he or she gets this title probably doesn’t deserve it. Letters behind our name grant us no permission to rest spiritually or professionally.
- They fear further education. Again, I believe in graduate and advanced level training. Some leaders, though, are afraid of the risks and challenges of returning to school after a number of years. Rather than risk failure, they instead choose stagnation.
- They don’t know where to start. They want to grow, but they don’t know how. Where do I find a mentor? What conference is worth attending? How do I choose which advanced degree to study? How do I open myself to accountability? The questions are numerous enough that it’s just easier to ignore them while staying busy.
- They’ve left their spiritual disciplines behind. They don’t even do what God demands from them every day – and when they make that faulty choice, they’re choosing not to grow. In fact, they’re choosing to get stuck in their walk with God.
- They’re mad at God. They’ve given themselves to lead God’s people, and they’ve been blistered in the process. The scars are deep enough that trying to grow hurts. It means they have to deal with the reality of bitterness and unforgiveness to move forward.
- They never delegate. That means they do it all, and then often complain about how hard they work and how much they sacrifice. When they build an institution around themselves, they become the king – and kings don’t see a need to grow.
- They’re holding on to secret sin. Any sin we choose not to turn from is an idol, and unrepentant idolaters stop growing as spiritual leaders. Period.
What’s keeping you from growing? Contact me via this website if I might pray for you or help you think about further training.
I absolutely agree with everything you have written. I would also add that as long as we stay humble, as leaders, we’ll be teachable. Just look at the examples from the Bible: Moses had to learn how to build a tabernacle when he was in his 80s, Noah was taught how to build an ark when he was, well, really old; Abraham had to be taught what sacrifice was all about when he was over 100. I truly believe when we stop learning we stop growing and God has made us to grow. As long as we stay humble in our walk with the Lord, He’ll be able to teach us. Leaders are always learners.
Thanks, Benjamin, for your contribution.
Loving this. Makes for great reading. Challenges where I am at… One aspect of Leadership that is stuck in my head is LEADERS LISTEN. Think of a sheppard. He has the group of sheep he looks after. If he is wise he will listen and watch his flock closely. WHY? Sheep can sense danger, they can smell a lion that is lurking, their uneasiness, their bleeting can all be seen or heard by a good Leader. Based on these “signal” a sheppard can defend and or steer away from harms way.