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The Leader’s Pitfalls: What Disqualifies Leaders? (Part 1)

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Henry and Rochard Blackaby have been outstanding spokesmen for leadership and the Chrisitan faith for many years. Many have benefitted from Henry’s work on Experiencing God. That was a foundational workbook for my wife and I when we were “young” seminarians.

I have had the privilege of meeting and working with Richard Blackaby while I served with Cru in Western Europe. He addressed one of our emerging leader forums for Western European leaders during an intensive in Latvia. He is a humble servant leader who taught our participants well.

Several years ago they combined their efforts to write Spiritual Leadership, a landmark work for God’s servants. They revised and expanded this volume in 2011–and it is as relevant today as ever.

One chapter that a friend and colleague brought to my attention again was a chapter on “The Leader’s Pitfalls.” I will review all 10 pitfalls–in this post, we will cover the first five, with some brief commentary. My hope is that this will entice you to read this book for the first time–or again. I also prayerfully hope that this keeps you from one of the ten in your leadership life.

The Pitfall of Pride

“Pride may well be leaders’ worst enemy, and it has caused the downfall of many.”

Pride makes leaders unteachable.

“No matter how talented or how smart a leader may be, an unteachable spirit is the path to certain failure.”

Pride causes leaders to think they are self-sufficient. 

“Pride targets successful leaders, convincing them they have enough talent, wisdom, and charisma, to achieve whatever they set their minds to do.”

Pride leads to a loss of compassion.

“When leaders lose the passion to contribute to their organization and begin to focus instead on what they can receive from it, they are no longer authentic leaders.”

Pride makes leaders vulnerable.

“Pride is a sin, and pride will do what sin does. It destroys.”

The Pitfall of Sexual Sin

“If pride is the most insidious pitfall of leaders, sexual sin is the most notorious.”

Safeguard #1: Leaders make themselves accountable.

“Prudent leaders are proactive; they enlist at least two people as accountability partners and give them freedom to regularly question their moral purity.”

Safeguard #2: Leaders heed their own counsel.

“Spiritual leaders must understand that they are no more immune to moral failure than those they are leading.”

Safeguard #3: Leaders consider the consequences.

“Astute leaders cultivate the habit of regularly pondering the devastating effects of sexual sin.”

Safeguard #4: Leaders develop healthy habits.

“Careful leaders can take practical steps to protect themselves from sexual temptation.”

Safeguard #5: Leaders pray and ask others to pray for them.

“The most practical step leaders can take is to pray that God will help them keep their lives above reproach.”

The Pitfall of Cynicism

“Leadership is a people business, and people invariably let you down. Negative leaders spawn negative organizations. Cynical leaders cultivate cynical followers. True leaders focus on what is right and on what gives hope, not on what is wrong. Older leaders seem particularly susceptible to cynicism. It is crucial that leaders guard their attitudes.”

The Pitfall of Greed

“Like many things, money and possessions can be either good or bad in a leader’s life. The lure of material possessions has enticed many leaders to make foolish career decisions. As a result, some people will sacrifice almost anything in order to achieve material success. The hunger for wealth and possessions can destroy spiritual leaders. Wise leaders know that the measure of their success is not the size of their bank account but the quality of their lives.”

The Pitfall of Mental Laziness

“Problem solving is an essential function of leadership, so leaders cannot afford to become intellectually stagnant. Good leaders never stop learning. They seek the company of wise people. They read books and articles that stretch their thinking. They read the biographies of great leaders and thinkers. Great leaders are always learning how to become better leaders.One way Jesus helped his disciples grow as leaders was by teaching them how to make sense of their circumstances.”

There are the first 5 pitfalls. How do you stack up? Where do you need to consider more carefully? Where do you need to make course corrections? The next 5 will be posted soon!