6 Major Barriers to Finishing Well

As I have contemplated my own personal leadership over this past year one aspect has stood out.  It is hard to finish well.  Think about it.  In almost any arena it is rare to see leaders who end their leadership lives with integrity and vibrancy. I am more convinced than ever that a leader will not finish well without great intentionality.  Part of that intentionality is understanding what could keep you from finishing well.  Below are six barriers to finishing well as identified by J. Robert Clinton.  Clinton is a Senior Professor of Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary and has done extensive research on leadership formation and development.  Below the list are two links for further reading from Clinton.  I highly recommend him to you.

1. Finances-their use and abuse.  Leaders, particularly those who have power positions and make important decisions concerning finances, tend to use practices which may encourage incorrect handling of finances and eventually wrong use.  A character trait of greed is often at the heart of this barrier and eventually will cause impropriety with regard to finances.

2. Power-its abuse.  With leadership comes power-and the tendency to abuse it.  Leaders who rise to the top in a hierarchical system tend to assume privileges with their perceived status.  Frequently, these privileges include the abuse of power.

3. Pride-which leads to downfall.  Pride which is inappropriate and self centered can lead to a leader’s downfall.  There is a dynamic tension that must be maintained.  We must have a healthy respect for ourselves and yet we must recognize that we have nothing that was not given us by God. Humility is paramount to finishing well.

4. Sex-illicit relationships.  Illicit sexual relationships have been a major cause of downfall for leaders in every culture in every era. We try to gloss over them and we try to pretend that our private lives do not affect our public lives-we are deceived.

5. Family-critical issues.  Problems between spouses or between parents and children-or even between siblings-can be a major source of a leader’s downfall.  This aspect is often ignored, but always carries greater consequences. You really can’t lead one way at home and another way at work. You are the same person. The same positive and negative traits will show up in all of your relationships.

6. Plateauing.  Leaders who are competent tend to plateau.  Their very strength becomes a weakness.  When leaders plateau they stop developing.  This can lead to the slow erosion of leadership vibrancy and competency.

Which of Clinton’s six barriers caught your attention?  What are your thoughts?

The Making of a Leader, by J. Robert Clinton

Finishing Well Factors-Enhancements and Barriers, by J. Robert Clinton

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    • Thanks Tim for your comments. It is easy to become content in that which we are naturally good at-your thoughts on providence offer a good correction to that. We never get a pass on a life of faith. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  1. Plateauing caught my attention and may be the real reason for my reason decision to leave the church staff position. When reflecting on this, it crystallized some recent thoughts. Thanks for posting the article.

    • Plateauing caught my attention and may be the real reason for my recent decision to leave the church staff position. When reflecting on this, it crystallized some thoughts. Thanks for posting the article.

  2. Bill Lawrence called them “invisible shackles”–false affections deep within our heart that attach images (eg., the need to be perfect or the need to succeed or the need to be needed) more so than to Christ. We are largely unaware of our heart’s deepest commitments.

    Gratefully, adversity in life, and especially in the second half of life can, in Dan Allender’s words ” intoduce us to ourselves.” That is, introduce us to our heart’s deep commitments outside of Christ, and invite Him to take up residence as our central affection and love.

    • Thanks Dave for your comments-I love the imagery of “invisible shackles.” And I am finding the principles you shared to be very true in my experience. Hope you are doing well!

  3. Years ago, I heard that less that 2% of Christian men over 65 finish well. Bobby Clinton’s 6 causes for not finishing well hit the main points but I think there are other reasons too. God has called us to be faithful until death. Retirement and resignation are not escape routes from staying the course. We continue to be models until the day we die and then we become memories—good, bad or indifferent. May God put within our hearts the steadfastness of Christ, “who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, sat down on the right hand of God.”

  4. Power caught my attention. Having grown up in EE, under the Communism, we were constantly facing this barrier: Power. Today’s current leaders of the EE- CCC also acted up in leadership positions during Communism.

    We were indoctrinated to lead by exerting power, by using our authority and not by influence. The paradigm shift has caught many of us off guard. The adjustment process is slow but it’s taking place.

    • Thanks Gina for your comments. You have certainly been through some tumultuous times and have seen both good and bad paradigms of leadership. I do think we can expand the breadth and depth of CCC leadership if we employ more of an influence approach-especially with the younger generation. I am sure you have a lot to offer to the emerging leaders there. Thanks for all you are doing to lead and serve there.