As somebody who has served in executive leadership and with many senior level leaders for many decades, I have observed the following twelve hazards. By hazard I am speaking about a common proclivity all executive level leaders need to monitor, lest they stumble.
Many if not most scholars consider the Apostle Paul the most important leader in the history of the church with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul’s influence cannot be overstated in spite of him never having oversight of a megachurch (he started small house churches in about 30 cities); he wasn’t always very prosperous (often he spoke about being hungry, thirsty and naked as in 1 Cor. 4:11); he wasn’t a celebrity leader (often he was met by mobs of angry people wanting to kill him as in Acts 9, 14:11, 19); he was not very well known during his lifetime outside the cities and regions in which he planted churches (his fame spread beyond these regions after his lifetime through his letters to the churches); and he was diminutive, not necessarily good looking, and may not have been a great orator (2 Corinthians 10:10).
This says a lot about how today’s standards for measuring success stack up against the values of God laid out in Scripture. I have asked myself the question: If Paul were alive today, based on what is mentioned above, would he ever have been a celebrity preacher or featured on the front pages of newspapers and Christian magazines?
Ever since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity divided in the 11th century, some of the greatest fears of the once united Christendom have been realized: fragmentation and division. Even in the 16thcentury, when Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, there was hope there would only be a few major expressions of the body of Christ. Never in their wildest dreams did the reformers envision all the denominations and various branches and networks of Christianity that have evolved, which has given opportunity for a spirit of lawlessness, independence and empire building among some insecure but gifted leaders.
The word of God teaches us that the Lord uses the “foolishness” of preaching to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21) and that God reveals His will regarding eternal life through preaching (Titus 1:4). Hence, we can never overstate the importance of preaching to fulfill the purposes of God on the earth. That being said, in my experience of more than 30 years of preaching the gospel, I have found there are times we preachers do more harm than good with our messages.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the greatest motivator and example of living a purposeful life that the world has ever seen! He lived by the scriptures since He is the living Word of God (John 1:1), this is why all the greatest books on leadership and management operate with latent biblical principles whether intentional or not.
As somebody who has been preaching and teaching the gospel since 1978, I have seen the “good, the bad and the ugly” when it comes to presenting the Gospel of Christ. (Both in others and myself). After being saved for only about six months, I started preaching on the NYC subways, then on the Staten Island ferry to thousands of people several nights per week. Hence, I learned how to communicate and preach the gospel by real life interaction with people. I have never formally studied homiletics (the science of preaching) but learned from observing my pastor (Ben Crandall-who was an outstanding preacher and teacher) and from experience. I also read books on homiletics and the art of communication. Read more
As I was fasting and praying while doing a conference in Argentina, the Lord began to drop this teaching in my spirit on honor. Several years ago, I was in a conference and I heard a pastor say that understanding this concept revolutionized his life and ministry. Immediately, I knew I was supposed to delve into this as well. As of the writing of this article, I have not yet read or listened to any teachings on this subject; thus, any overlap with other teachings is due to having the same Holy Spirit teaching us.
There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.
Through the years, I have observed various types of leadership styles as well as how people operate within the flow of leadership titles; In this article, I use the word titular, to refer to a person who tries to lead primarily on the merit of their title and or official position. When I use the term functional, I am referring to a person who earns the respect of their peers and subordinates through their effectiveness and relational capital.