A few years ago, the mainstream media has reported that two high-level conservative Republican leaders, U.S. Senator John Ensign and Governor Mark Sanford, have had ongoing adulterous affairs.However, after that a conservative New York Congressman Vito Fossella was stopped for driving while intoxicated in Virginia and exposed as an adulterer, forcing him out of the political arena. Senator Ensign’s affair was with a member of his own staff whose husband also served on the same staff (at the same time). Governor Sanford had at least a year-and-a-half relationship with an Argentinean woman whom he has called his “soul mate” in spite of being married. During his last liaison, he flew to Argentina without telling anyone where he was, even though he is a standing governor! (Just goes to show how cloudy one’s mind can become when it is engulfed in sin and deception.)
As we all know by now, thousands of lead pastors leave full-time church ministry every year. Along those lines, a high percentage of new church plants never make it past three years! One reason is that most potential lead pastors never honestly attempt to ask themselves the following questions:
I’ve been involved in pastoral ministry for over 30 years, and I have a desire to help everyone. But, I have learned the hard way that I cannot help every person who attends our church or who comes to me for input.
The following are ten kinds of people I have identified that are so entrenched in certain habit patterns that I cannot help them advance to the next level unless they make the necessary shift in their attitude or behavior.
One day I was pondering why all the leaders I know with much influence all seem to have one thing in common: they have all suffered much in their lives. In fact, every one of them has a particular cross to bear, or they have gone through horrendous seasons of pain and suffering that were part of a divine process that made them and continues to mold them into the highly effective leaders they are today. (These challenges can be relational issues with their spouses, children, other leaders, etc. or they can be personal issues related to their spiritual, emotional or physical wellbeing.)
There is presently a revolution taking place among those on the leading edge of change in the Evangelical Church. The result is a transition from a church mindset to a kingdom mindset in which the walls of church buildings are no longer able to contain the raw creative energy of Christ-followers who are committed to preaching and applying the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the world, including its systems and structures.
Scripture is replete with examples of how leaders rise and fall. One of the reasons why I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God is because it so honestly and accurately portrays the plight of human beings regarding their reasons for success and failure. It adequately portrays the dark side of the saints of old and is not like the common biographies of great people in history that are more hagiographic in nature than historic (that is, they don’t reveal the failures of the person).
(Some of the ideas in this article I received from my friend Linda Lindquist-Bishop during an email exchange.)
#1: Churches are becoming complex enterprises which pastors are not equipped to lead.
The typical seminary training one receives to be a pastor usually only slightly touches on the practical things needed to oversee a church in the twenty-first century. Learning theology and how to exegete Scripture is not enough. Pastors have perhaps the toughest job in the nation.
As a pastor for almost 30 years, I have learned much through the School of Hard Knocks. My goal with this article is to identify some of the most common mistakes made by pastors and leaders so others would not replicate them.
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