Tearing Down Leadership Idols in the Church


A quick Google search on “Church Leadership” will turn up literally over 170 million links. That’s a lot of content to dig into on church leadership. For all of the talk about church leadership out there today it sure seems that the church is pretty leadership poor. I know some folks down in Texas that would say that churches have a bad case of “big hat, no cattle.” Another way to say it would be that churches are all talk and no action when it comes to leadership.

With that said, there really are some leadership idols that many church leaders buy into that need to be torn down.

“Leadership is Influence”

If leadership was simply influence than my kids are the best leaders in my house. They’ve influenced the kind of car (or land yacht) I’ve purchased, the house we live in, our grocery budget and so on. While influence is a part of leadership, it’s not leadership. The Bible doesn’t define leadership as influence; it defines leadership as a spiritual gift. Not everybody has it.

“We need to Hire more Staff”

The church of America has been lulled into this idea that they have to hire more staff to do the ministry at their churches. Hiring another staff member may be the worst thing you can at your church this year. Your church most likely doesn’t need more staff to do ministry, rather your existing staff need to learn how to delegate, empower, and develop your church body to stop just coming to the church but be the church. Your church is full of competent and highly talented people who actually get paid to perform complicated jobs. Chances are they have a lot to offer at your church too. 

“Preachers are Leaders”

Just because you’re a gifted communicator doesn’t mean you’re a gifted leader. It means you’re a gifted communicator. Young church leaders are taught (more by the prevailing church ministry model in the U.S. than by the Bible) that if you want to lead in a church then you have to do it from a stage, and if you’re not a gifted communicator then your not a gifted leader. That’s simply not true. Leadership is not just about inspiration and instruction (what happens from a stage). It’s also about being up close and over time with people and taking them from where they are to where they need to be. There’s more to that than stage. And frankly I’ve seen some fantastic preachers who can’t lead themselves or anyone else out of a wet paper bag.

“Leadership is Power”

Great leaders don’t simply amass and wield great amounts of power, rather they have the uncanny ability to share power and give it away to others. Barking out orders doesn’t endear people to you. You get more when you give, even in the economy of leadership.

What are other “leadership idols” you’ve seen in churches? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your insights!

Photo Credit: Pondspider via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership

2 Responses to “Tearing Down Leadership Idols in the Church”

  1. Scott Savage September 15, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Great post Paul! Two big ones I’ve encountered…
    Leadership is a title. People either wait for the “the title” to lead or they think their current title determines their leadership. My title has never fully represented my influence level.
    Leaders arrive. I see a lot of leaders lead one way regardless of their location or context. They don’t adapt to a new environment or new challenge. “Well it worked there/then, so it must work here/now.”

    • Paul Alexander September 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

      Great additions Scott! Thanks for the insights.

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