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7 Reasons People Are Not Leading Who Could Be

Every church I know needs leaders. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…”. I’m convinced, based on other Scripture, some of those workers should be leaders of other workers. Throughout the Scriptures God used men and women to lead others to accomplish great things — all to His glory.

And, I’m equally convinced, just as there are not enough people working who should be working – there are not enough leaders who should be leading.

The question all church leaders need to know is why are they not!

Here are 7 reasons people are not leading who could be:

They weren’t ever willing to face their fears. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, and the fear of the unknown are very real fears. But, fear is an emotion and not necessarily based on truth. Faith is a substance based on a certain, though unseen, reality.

Tip: We must encourage and challenge people to live by faith.

They never had the self-confidence to allow people to follow. I know so many people who sit on the sidelines – even though people believe in them, but they just don’t believe in themselves.

Tip: We must speak words of affirmation into people; helping them believe in themselves, because God believes in them.

They felt it was self-serving to step into the role of leadership. One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t trip over your own humility by refusing to do the right thing.” Yes, leaders can be in the center of attention, and some people are too “humble” to step into the role, but in the meantime we are missing their leadership.

Tip: Help people understand humility and the danger of pride. But, allow people to feel enabled to gain position when they willingly point to God for all the glory.

They waited for someone else to do it. They had a call, or at least they knew what needed to be done, and they could have taken the initiative and made it work. They simply never did — hoping, waiting for someone else to make the move.

Tip: Teach people understand the priesthood of the believer, the Church as a body with indispensable members.

They tried once, it didn’t work, and they gave up too soon. It’s been said failure is a critical step towards success. Failure helps us mature as a leader. If you give up after the first try you miss out on the best of leadership.

Tip: Have an environment where failure is accepted as a part of leadership. Be agents of grace and encouragement to continue in spite of setbacks.

They couldn’t find their place – and nobody made one for them. I would encourage people to find something to lead! The world is full of problems. Choose one you are passionate about and start leading. We need you! But churches need to create margins of opportunities. Expecting a high-level female leader in the corporate space to want to rock babies is often unrealistic. If they want to fine, but they may want to chair a committee.

Tip: Build opportunities around the people and their individual interests. The best leaders have to be recruited to lead!

They thought they didn’t know how to lead. I’ve been a student of leadership for over 20 years – and in leadership positions for 35 years – and I would answer this one with a question. Who does know how to lead? Sure, there are skills to be acquired, leadership is an art to be shaped, but leadership is new every morning, because there world is ever changing. Leadership involves people. When we can completely figure them out we can completely figure out leadership. Until then we watch, listen, read, learn, and ask questions. Everyone can learn some skills of leadership if they are teachable. The best leaders are still learning how to lead.

Tip: Build a leadership training pipeline. Encourage everyone in leadership to be recruiting and training another future leader.

Are any of these the reasons people in your church are not currently leading, but you know they should be?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • @metacg01 says:

    Great post! Most (if I were honest all) of your points I have and sometimes still struggle to overcome. Often potential leaders are deceived into thinking they MUST have all the answers. Jim Collins refers to this false paradigm of leadership as "Time Tellers" in his book Built to Last (For those who are not familiar with the book you should check it out). He goes on to describe great leaders as "Clock Builders". Potential leaders would be much less hesitate to exercise leadership if they were to view leadership as the process of building something great and enduring.

  • Keith says:

    8. You never asked them.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Yes. That's a good one. This post is written to the person not leading, not to the ones doing recruiting, but if you read any of my posts on developing or recruiting new leaders I always say “The best leaders have to be recruited”.Speaking in this case more about the person sitting on the sideline — they may even have been asked — but they've not stepped forward.