In my second book, “Mistakes Leaders Make,”  I state matter-of-fact that I have either made, or observed, most of these ten mistakes in ministry contexts in which I have served. 

I, as you can imagine, would encourage you to buy, read, and apply the content of Mistakes Leaders Make

In the afterword, I make mention of ten additional mistakes that could be the basis for a third book. Here is a complete list of all the mistakes:

Allowing ministry to replace Jesus

Allowing comparing to replace contentment

Allowing pride to replace humility

Allowing pleasing people to replace pleasing God

Allowing busyness to replace visioning

Allowing financial frugality to replace fearless faith

Allowing artificial harmony to replace difficult conflict

Allowing perennially hurting people to replace potential hungry leaders

Allowing information to replace transformation

Allowing control to replace trust

Allowing selfish ambition to replace godly ambition

Allowing reactive to replace proactive

Allowing discouragement to replace dreaming

Allowing teaching to replace training

Allowing tactical to replace strategic

Allowing politics to replace principles

Allowing talking to replace listening

Allowing careless firing to replace careful hiring

Allowing competence to replace character

Allowing pornography to replace purity

As I look over the entire list, I’m going to select one, which I will call the biggest mistake I ever made.  Now this mistake was not a one-time affair, but more of a focus or emphasis over a long period of time that was not only unhealthy for me and others, but downright hurtful and harmful.

My biggest mistake was allowing


                to replace


I had my aha moment when, in the process of following my normal Bible reading, I came across Matthew 23:25-28, ESV:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The hammer of God’s word came down hard on me and I saw in a flash what I had been doing for years as a leader–putting all my focus and attention on outward competence…trying to do things well while ignoring the inward life of character lived out in the context of relationships, as most character attributes are.

I had spent years trying to do everything perfectly to impress and win approval from my supervisors and peers, while not thinking much at all about what I was and was becoming on the inside.

I have repented, confessed and cast myself on the grace and mercy of the Lord while focusing on character and connecting with people as I depend on Him for ongoing Holy Spirit-empowered transformation.

Here are four areas I am currently zeroing in on:

1. Purity

2. Humility

3. Contentment

4. Patience 

I regret that it took me so many years to see this hurtful overemphasis on competence.

I am not at all saying that competence is wrong, but it can be when it is the sole focus of my time, effort and attention, while ignoring or neglecting the inward person. I have come to understand that I am first a human being and then a human doing. What I do should flow from within…the person I am in Jesus on the inside.

It seems to me that in far too many instances in Christian leadership, we bring people on board (as volunteers or paid staff) based on competency, what they can do and then let some of them go based on character, what they have become.

Most leaders who fall do so over character issues rather than competency issues!

The legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Far too many leaders are overly concerned with their reputation in the eyes of others, and under concerned with inward character, which God is deeply interested in.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ ” 1 Samuel 16:7, ESV

+To ponder:

Where is your focus these days…on what man sees on the outside, or on what God sees in your heart? Are you making the mistake that I made of allowing competency to replace character?