My Love/Hate Relationship with Leadership

Leadership is good, biblical, and necessary


I have a love/hate relationship with leadership.

First of all, I hate it because I’m not a natural born leader. I’ve never been able to step into leadership roles effortlessly. I meet people who just become leaders because of who they are. I have never been that person. I was a bookworm and a nerd. Leadership was not something I naturally inherited; it was a skill and a practice I had to learn. And learn I did.

Because of my experience, I think all of us can learn to be leaders. I don’t think leadership is simply something we are born with or not. We can learn skills, activities, and practices that help us in the area of leadership.

The difficulty is that leadership has fallen on hard times in evangelical churches. I think part of that is a backlash to what I call the Maxwellization of leadership in the last couple of decades, when John Maxwell’s books seemed to be required reading for church leaders.

Everything was leadership in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but now the pendulum has swung the other way. We’ve moved away from leadership, especially leadership based on business principles. We hear people say, “I don’t want to be a CEO leader. I don’t want to be dictatorial leaders and hold things over people.”

When Mike Dodson and I were researching and writing Comeback Churches we may have gotten caught up in that backlash. We wanted to find what factors led to church revitalization. We expected to find prayer, preaching, evangelism, etc. We researched and we studied more than 320 churches. We called them and did multiple interviews with dozens of them. Do you know what we found? Everything rises and falls on leadership.

We were focused on prayer, preaching, structure, evangelism ...

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