There are leaders who are being greatly used of God as they live on the edge, and there are leaders who are limited, hurting and ineffective because they are living with an edge. Let’s explore a bit and see the difference between the two.

Living on the Edge
Living on the edge is characterized by vision, faith, risk-taking, adventure. The business guru, Tom Peters said, “Unless you walk out into the unknown, the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.” Christian leaders living on the edge are motivated to leap into the unknown (known to God, but unknown to me) and see what God will do. In flying parlance, it is called “pushing the edge of the envelope.”
 Its when you take an aircraft to its max to see what it can do. I love the words of Mark Twain (I don’t always agree with his theology).

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Living on the edge carries a sense of excitement with it; a spirit of expectation, wonder and exhilaration.
I believe that followers like to be involved with leaders who are attempting great things for God and expecting great things from God. There is a familiar story in Luke 19, The Parable of the Ten Minas. I read with great fascination Eugene Peterson’s rendering of Verse 26 in The Message: “Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.” It hit me with fresh insight. The parable is about taking risks for God. I never thought of it in those terms.
Living with an Edge.
Living on the edge is positive, vision-creating. Living with an edge, on the other hand, tends to be destructive and counter-productive. It can be synonymous with having a “chip on the shoulder.” A church I was on staff with has a sign out front with a new quote every week. A few years back one read, “When there is a chip on the shoulder there is wood further up. “The days of effective, fruitful, God-pleasing ministry are numbered for the leader who is living with an edge. Relationships tend to be fragile, meetings tense, tempers high, shared ownership low. There is often an ax to grind, a hidden agenda to pursue, anger or resentment from past hurts. In my Leaders Who Last seminar, I unpack James 3:17 in The Message. In that verse is the phrase, “…the hard work of getting along with others.” Getting along with others is sometimes, perhaps many times, hard work.
The Lord is, based on James 3:17, motivating me to do the hard work of getting along. Building consensus, asking for input, doing a better job of listening, forgiving, saying I’m sorry. These kinds of desirable attributes come hard to the leader “living with an edge.” Things can easily degenerate into “my way or the highway.” I have worked with leaders living with an edge. They sap my joy and energy. I have worked with leaders living on the edge. They inspire me and increase my joy. On the edge speaks to my heart of fruitfulness, trust God-pleasing, adventure, delight. With an edge leaders leads to famine, tension, God-limiting, agony and defeat.