10 Signs You've Got a Toxic Children's Ministry Leader

A toxic children's ministry leader is someone who abuses the leader/follower relationship.  He or she takes the team downhill and creates an environment that's unhealthy.

Do you have a toxic children's ministry leader?  Or...are you personally a toxic children's ministry leader?  Here's 10 ways to know..

A toxic children's ministry leader makes sure it's all about him or her.  
The ministry revolves around him or her.  He or she has an inflated view of his or her importance to the team.  Listen to this quote from a famous actor.

“As soon as enough people give you enough compliments and you’re wielding more power than you’ve ever had in your life, it’s not that you become arrogant or rude to people, but you get a false sense of your own importance and what you’ve accomplished.  You actually think you’ve altered the course of history.”  Leonardo DiCaprio

A toxic children's ministry leader doesn't use the words, "I'm sorry."
A toxic leader is full of pride and doesn't apologize when wrong.  Instead of taking ownership for mistakes or failures, he or she shifts the blame to someone else.  The buck doesn't stop with the toxic leader...the buck gets thrown in someone else's lap.  Unless...which leads us to the next sign.

A toxic children's ministry leader takes all the credit for successes.
He or she makes sure the spotlight shines on them.  He or she is quick to take credit and quick to shift blame when things go wrong.  He or she makes sure his or her name is in the headlines.  

A toxic children's ministry leader does all the talking at team meetings.
Commands replace collaboration.
Quick answers replace questions.
Tyranny replaces teamwork.
Ego replaces encouragement.
Intimidation replaces the interests of others.

A toxic children's ministry leader is condescending. 
He or she talks down to the team.  He or she is arrogant.  He or she flaunts their title instead of taking the towel of servant leadership that Jesus modeled.  He or she leads by position instead of passion.

A toxic children's ministry leader isn't flexible.
It's my way or the highway.  He or she chooses hills to die on that are really just mole hills.  He or she perpetuates programs or events that no longer work simply because they were his or her brainchild.

A toxic children's ministry leader micromanages.
He or she doesn't give people the freedom to lead.  He or she has to approve everything.  He or she is the leadership lid that is keeping the ministry from growing because he or she has to control everything.

A toxic children's ministry leader clones.
He or she gathers people around that are just like himself/herself.  There is no diversity or other personality types on the team.  He or she doesn't bring people on the team that compliment his or her weaknesses.  Which leads to the next sign.

A toxic children's ministry leader won't acknowledge his or her blind spots.
He or she doesn't have anyone asking them the hard questions.  When and if they are confronted about a blind spot, they refuse to acknowledge it and accuse the person of being disloyal or against them.

A toxic children's ministry leader corrects publicly.
When someone makes a mistake, a toxic leader uses word assassination in front of everyone else instead of talking with them privately.  Team members are left embarrassed and humiliated.

What are some overall signs a toxic leader is at the helm?

  • low morale
  • lots of team member turn over
  • creativity from team members has stopped flowing
  • declining productivity
Truth be told, we've all exhibited some of these traits at times.  I know I have and I've still got work to do in some of these areas.  I want to encourage you to take a hard look at these.  Are you toxic in any of these areas?   The first step to growing out of it is acknowledgement.

And if you're serving under a toxic leader, go to the person in a spirit of love and humility.  Hopefully God will use your words to help the person grow.  If they refuse, you have to decide to stay or leave.