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5 Ways Ministry Leaders Start the Journey to Failure

By May 23, 2017August 23rd, 2018Church, Leadership

One of the hardest things I do in ministry is interact with those who are no longer in ministry, but wish they were. They’ve been derailed. They messed up and either they got caught or the guilt got the best of them and they confessed.

In recent years, I’ve had numerous ministry friends who lost their ministry due to moral failure, poor leadership, or simply burnout.

You should know I’m huge proponent for applying grace. I do not believe failure has to define a person indefinitely. The reality is, however, we lose good, effective ministry leaders because they begin to make dumb mistakes. It breaks my heart. If there were any way to stop it – or minimize it – I would certainly try to do so.

That is the point of this post.

Watching this process over the years there appear to be some common reasons failure occurs. It doesn’t start at the failure. It starts months – and, perhaps years – prior. My hope is if we expose some of them we can catch a few people before it is too late.

So, let me ask, do any of these apply to you?

Here are the 5 ways leaders start to fail:

Thinking it couldn’t happen to me.

I have heard this so many times. The leader thinks they are fool proof. They don’t believe the statistics include them. They don’t need the accountability of others. Their marriage is secure. The things which tempt others don’t tempt them. 

Can I be a word of caution? It can. It can. It can. Yes, even to you! Should I remind you the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion?
Refusing to listen to others.

In my experience, God will attempt to rescue those in jeopardy. Refusing to listen to oth re often dismisses the voice of God. When a leader closes his or herself from the counsel of others they are essentially putting out a welcome mat for temptation to overtake them. 

Do you need to heed wise counsel?

Overestimating personal value.

Pride goes before the fall. Oh, how true this warning from Scripture has been proven to me over the years. Whenever I think too highly of myself I set myself up for failure. Those who seek their own applause get phony claps.

Be honest, do you see yourself as better, smarter, or more valuable than those you lead? Do you think you’re irreplaceable?

Underestimating the value of others.

Prior to a fall leaders often become guarded in what they release to others. They are over-protective. They attempt to control outcomes. They dismiss the opinions of people on their team.

Do you realize the worth of a team? Do you understand the value other people bring to the table? Do you solicit advice?

You’re on a slow fade.

Failure never starts at the bottom or really even experiences a free fall. It’s a gradual decline over time. It’s allowing temptation to become” little” sin and a bunch of “little” sins to become a “big” sin.

Have you begun to make excuses for some of your behaviors? Have you drifted from some of your normal healthy disciplines? When you compare your life today to even a year ago – do you  see a slow fade occurring?

Those are a few signs I’ve seen of a coming failure.

Do you need the warning?

I can also remind you – You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. No temptation has seized you except what’s common to man. When tempted, God provides a way out.

Perhaps this post is one way God will attempt to get your attention.

I’m hopeful you’ll find a safe place to get help if needed. It would be better to make yourself vulnerable than to allow yourself to be a statistic.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • bryankr

    "Underestimating…" I have seen some wonderful leaders fall into that one pretty quick! I am working with a leader now that is fresh out of college and a newlywed to boot! He has such great potential and I really don't want him to fall in where so many others have. He is, in some ways, starting to work in that direction now. Keeps doing all that he can on his own; keeping things close to the vest (so to speak); things like that, nothing major, but…
    At this point, I continue to pray for and WITH him on a weekly basis. I never hesitate to speak my mind on issues, but I do wait until I have been asked! Surprisingly, he does ask, and when I answer I give specific observations, I don't give pet peeves or agendas! When I see something he has done that might not work well, I let him know what and why. Even more importantly, when I se the things he does that work ( and there have been many!) I make sure he knows that also!
    He's a good kid with tremendous potential and I am proud to support him any way I can.

  • Nice observation of the main stumbling blocks that trip up not just pastors but all believers if we ignore the warning prompts of the Holy Spirit.

    The BIG questions need tackled: What do we need to do to help restore one another? How can we create safety networks to help without being judgmental? Where is biblical community able to play a part? When are we going to really wrestle with this issue?

    • ronedmondson says:

      yes, great questions. Feel free to write a guest post of some thoughts. I've written on that issue a few times, but it's a needed subject.