Your Greatest Leadership Challenge

This past week, a pastor that I have served with on a couple of ministry endeavors, resigned his church.  He and his wife are divorcing.  

I don't know all the details but it is obviously not good.  Somewhere along the way he couldn't get victory over his greatest leadership challenge. 

His greatest leadership challenge?  It's the greatest challenge that you and I face as well.  It's a challenge that will take you out of ministry if you don't know what it is and don't overcome it. 

The greatest ministry challenge?  Here it's leading yourself well.  

Your greatest leadership challenge is the person you look at in the mirror."

I have found that the hardest person to lead is the person that looks back at me in the mirror.  Do you feel the same way at times? I believe we all do. Even the apostle Paul said in Romans 7, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

Can you identify?  I can. 

So how do you meet this leadership challenge?  How do you lead yourself well?  Here are some tips that can help you:

1. Know what your number one job is.  

Your number one job as a leader is to guard your heart.

 "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart against bitterness.  

Guard your heart against envy.

Guard your heart against disappointment.

Guard your heart against frustration.

2. Keep your eyes on Jesus. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."       Hebrews 12:1-2

 3. Know when your battery is getting low.

It’s easy to know when your phone is depleted, isn’t it? You see it and know to plug it in.                            

But we’re not as quick to know when our personal battery is getting low, are we? We ignore the signs of fatigue, frustration and discouragement. But to lead well, we must know when we are tired, restless and over-extended. Enlist other people to help you watch your personal battery level. Give them permission to speak into your life when they see you are running low. 

4. Spend time with Jesus. 

The discipline of spending time with Jesus is not always easy. If you’re like me, it’s easier to drive a car than it is to wait patiently at the gas pump while it’s filling up. I don’t have time to sit and wait for the car to fill up...I’ve got places to go...things to do...people to connect with. But remember, you can only skip the gas pump for so long before you run out of gas and become stranded on the side of the road. It’s the same spiritually. You have to slow down and get filled up by Jesus if you’re going to keep
going spiritually.

5. Stay teachable so you can remain usable. 

Don’t let success turn you into a know-it-all. Be a learn-it-all. Keep a humble, teachable spirit. Be a leader who is always learning. Learn from everywhere you go and from everyone you meet. When you are open to it, everyone and everything can be your teacher. If you want to be an expert, you have to keep a beginner’s mindset.

6.  Encourage yourself.

There will be times when you get discouraged because things aren’t going as planned. Times when your vision for the ministry is met with mumbles and grumbling. Times when it seems nothing is working. Times when things are going so bad that you’re a step away from quitting. Times when you are at the end of your rope and are about to let go. And there will be no one to help you. No one to turn to.

When this happens, do what David did. He got alone with God and encouraged himself. To lead yourself well, you must get to the point where your encouragement doesn’t have to come from outward sources, but rather from inward.

“And David was greatly distressed: for the people spoke of stoning him, because the souls of all the people were grieved, every man for his sons, and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”                     I Samuel 30 21

7.  Pace yourself.

“ Greatness in ministry is not measured in years, but in decades.”

Did you know that over 1,500 pastors quit the ministry every month?  There are a variety of reasons why this happens. Some quit because of moral failure. Some because of doubting their calling. Others for financial reasons. And some quit because they are burned out. Exhausted. Weary in well doing.                  

We must remember that God has not called us to be successful. He has called us to be faithful. And if you’re going to be faithful and go the distance, then you’ve got to find a pace that you can maintain.

Follow these 7 tips and you can finish well. 

These 7 tips are from my book "Lead Well in Children's Ministry."  It is available as an ebook or a paperback book.  You can get it at this link.