Have you ever been fooled or misled with the fine print in a contract? Have you ever been deceived by being told one thing only to find out that the fine print in the contract said something quite different? Have you ever been asked to sign something with somebody saying that you don’t need to read it as it is just routine standard stuff in all contracts like this?

I must admit that when there is lots to read, I skip down to the “Agree” box, check it and really don’t pay much attention to the details. So far nothing bad has happened, but it could if I don’t know what I’m actually signing and don’t read the fine print.

When you stepped into leadership, there is a good chance that there were certain things that were never adequately explained to you or that you never really “heard”. Let’s refer to these as the “fine print” in the contract.

Here are a few of them that you may have never been told about, but are none the less true as you will find out if you haven’t already:

 1. You Will Be Misunderstood

I was at a Navigator training program years ago when one of the speakers said that if we stepped into leadership we should plan on being misunderstood. I didn’t understand it then, but I certainly do now.

Some people will not only misunderstand me, but they may misinterpret me, misrepresent, or misconstrue what I’ve said. Some of this is unintentional, but some may very well be intentional to discredit me, have me removed for a period of time, or have me disqualified for life. Your motives may be questioned and you may be slandered and gossiped about.

2. You Will Be Wrong

Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you’re always right.  One of my favorite definitions of a leader is: “A leader is a person who makes decisions, some of which are right.” You will be wrong; it’s not a just a possibility, it’s a fact. The best thing you can do is to own it, admit it, apologize for it, rather than blaming others, hiding it, or making excuses for yourself.

3. You Will Sin

You will sin. You will disappoint the Lord. You still have a sinful nature even though God’s hand of anointing may be on you and your ministry. All the effort and determination in the world will not keep you from sinning until you are in your resurrected body in heaven. Remember Peter’s promise to not turn away or deny Jesus? Well, he did, in short order!

You are capable of the most heinous of sins and the further you go in leadership the more you will be tempted to gloss over your sin, believe you really don’t sin anymore, or call it something other than sin.

Paul, in Romans 6 and 7, talks about his battle with sin. I would venture a guess that you are not as godly a leader as Paul was and yet he struggled and you will too, until the day you die.

4. You Will Be Accused

No matter what you do or how right or biblical you try to be, there will be those in your ministry and outside of your ministry who will accuse you of everything imaginable… everything under the sun. They will accuse you of being power-hungry.  trying to build your own kingdom, greedy for gain, and manipulative.

Now, some of the things people say about you might very well be true and we need to search our hearts (Psalm 119:23,24) to see if it is true. If you determine it’s not true and your motives are right (as far as you can determine) before the Lord, you need to move on and not be depressed, deflated or defeated by these accusations, as they will come as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. But if there’s truth in what you are being accused of, own it!

5. You Will Fail

You will fail–not just once, but many times in your leadership journey. It has been observed that we learn more from our failures than our successes. Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t try to avoid it at all costs. In the movie, “Patton,” General Patton said of  British General Montgomery that “he is more interested in not failing than he is in succeeding.” Most every fruitful and successful Christian leader I have heard of has failed multiple times. John Maxwell’s book “Failing Forward” is a good read on this.

6. You Will Get Angry

Especially if you are a visionary and idea-filled leader, you will, at times, be very angry that:

  • People don’t like your idea
  • People want to postpone implementation of your idea
  • People want to criticize you for your “lame-brain” idea
  • People will question the motive behind your idea

 In spite of the clear challenge in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” (ESV) Many leaders I have worked with, read about, or known are quick, rather than slow, to anger.

Once again, own it, confess it, repent of it, and apologize. We read in I Timothy 3 “self-controlled, not violent, but gentle.” In other words, don’t be an angry, short-fused, quick-tempered leader. I have met more than my share of them. Don’t be surprised by your own anger. Anger is probably not the issue but how you handle it, communicate it and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, control it and channel it. There is righteous anger and sinful anger. For the most part, the anger that leaders display falls into the sinful category.

Anyone want to add other “fine print” items you found out about and experienced on your leadership journey?