Leadership Is Messy

One of my favorite titles on leadership is Never Blink In a Hailstorm.  When I first picked up the book, I noticed the humor (probably what intrigued me the most) and the seriousness regarding the subject of leadership.  David Mckenna has some great chapter titles.  Never Play God.  Never Swallow Perfume.  Never Waste An Interruption.  Never Ride A Pendulum.  But my favorite has to be the title of the book.  Subtitles in the chapter include The Loneliness of Authority, The Loneliness of Decision Making, and The Loneliness of Confidentiality – notice a pattern?  The chapter begins with these powerful words. “If you can’t stand loneliness, stay away from leadership.”

I’ve experienced this first hand.  Sometimes, leaders feel like they’re constantly swimming upstream, fighting a losing battle, all alone.  Remember Elijah and Mount Carmel?  Often times, we have to be reminded that God is with us when we remain in His will.  But He calls us to lead not to be comfortable.

The church I pastor has elders and deacons.  Ideally, the elders are to be the spiritual leaders of the church – shepherding, praying, guarding against false teaching, etc.  Deacons are ministers serving on a daily basis.  The best example is Acts 6 when the deacons are called to wait on tables.  Both descriptions are over-simplifications, but they’re sufficient for the conversation here.

I said all this to say leadership is messy.  In other words, there are tough decisions to be made.  And many times the decisions aren’t popular.  I’m sure there was grumbling when Peter or the other apostles led the early church.  Someone thought they should have done something different.  But we’re told the Church survived because leaders were more concerned about God’s will rather than being popular or chasing after their own dreams.  Leadership is tough!  I can’t wait to visit with Moses about all the grumbling in the desert.

Of course, not everyone is called to be a leader.  Not everyone in the Church is qualified to be a leader.  Sadly, there are many in the Church who have a title but fail to lead.  Billy Martin, former manager of the New York Yankees, once said, “(A successful manager) is one who keeps the five who hate you away from the four who are still unsure.”  There’s more truth in that statement than most realize.

Here’s the point:  Leadership is tough, lonely, and often times messy.  Sometimes there are wounds (real or perceived).  No one likes to be unpopular.  But if called by God, Church leaders shouldn’t be concerned with those things.  Lead.  Lead in a way that you may not be able to sleep at night but so that you can hear “Well done good and faithful servant.”  One more thing:  Leadership doesn’t require a title.  Good leadership begins with those humble enough to do the menial work no one else wants to do.  Pray for your leaders and strive to be one yourself (with or without a title).



2 Responses to “Leadership Is Messy”

  1. jason kraft Says:

    Good stuff – ordering the book now…

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