Bobby Clinton, professor of leadership at Fuller Seminar, has an insightful leadership viewpoint on Matthew 9:36-38 when he wrote in “The Making of a Leader” that:

“When Jesus saw the leaders He was filled with dismay because:

  • So many quit
  • So many were set aside
  • So many were plateaued and directionless”

As we look at the leadership landscape today we do well to ask why there are still so many who quit, are set aside or are plateaued and directionless. We are seeing leaders all around us dropping like flies–in government, business and the church. It would appear that we are in a leadership free fall…a colossal meltdown. Everywhere we look, we see signs of leaders violating the trust that has been placed in them by co-workers, shareholders, customers, constituencies, followers, congregants and trusting friends.  According to Michael Ross, writing in the Christian Times, 1,400 pastors leave the ministry each month because of stress, disillusionment or forced termination. Something is dreadfully wrong and getting worse.

A small roll call would include top leaders from Enron, World.Com, The Arthur Anderson Company, Catholic priests and bishops and numerous political figures.  A few years ago, in the Seattle Times there was a story of a local mayor stepping down due to financial misappropriation. In my home county in Southern California, the pastor of the largest church within 100 miles left in disgrace.  It seems like almost everyday I pick up our local newspaper and read of some leader someplace, somehow, for some reason who has quit or been removed due to financial or moral sin. Many others are exhausted, discouraged and disgusted with their leadership role.  By the droves they are quitting, being set aside, plateaued and at a standstill.

What’s going on here?  Why is this happening on such a large scale? Let’s take a closer look.   Here are seven possible explanations.  Perhaps you have a few of your own.  

1.  Refusal or negligence in taking action and accepting responsibility—being tentative, sitting on the fence, afraid to take a stand, make a decision. Not owning up to failures—making excuses, playing the blame game, disappearing or quitting in order to  protect  image or reputation

2.  Believing that you can get away with a double standard for “ethics,” one for your work life and another for your personal life—convincing yourself that you are above the rules…that your private choices don’t have any effect on your leadership ability.

3.  Not being able to deal with the “dark side” of success—envy, resentment, bitterness, pride, greed, competition and revenge.  This is a “biggie.”

4.  Not taking sufficient time for solitude, reflection and renewal—going at breakneck speed (which sooner or later breaks your emotional/spiritual neck) edges out times for reflection (leading to perspective, repentance and resolve) time for family and and for healthy accountability with a few close friends

5.  Not having a clearly-articulated life-purpose—saying yes to too many things and spreading yourself too thin due to a lack of discovering the few themes that compose your life.  Having a  clear purpose statement will facilitate saying no to many things so that you can say yes to a few things. “Long-distance winners” often have a disarmingly simple purpose statement.  

6.  Not understanding your strengths and weaknesses—doing things that don’t fit you and trying to do everything by yourself, rather than being a team-player and surrounding yourself with key people who compensate for who you are not and complement who you are and what you are gifted to do

7.  Not taking charge of your own personal learning and development—no time to read, learn, think, dream, improve lead to stagnation  burnout and  ineffectiveness

How are you doing?   Any red lights on your “dashboard”?