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Sunday, June 16, 2024
Home Leaders Competencies A Leader's Dumb and Dumber Mistakes

A Leader’s Dumb and Dumber Mistakes

I’d say early in a leader’s career dumb mistakes come from immaturity and exerting some people-pleasing rather than God-pleasing skills. As a person matures with experience, these mistakes probably occur due to pride and a need for continual growth and learning. No matter why we make the mistakes, recognizing them as mistakes helps to avoid them and the ensuing consequences.

I’ve served more than 33 years in different churches in various roles and have made lots of mistakes. I didn’t make these mistakes with ill will or with an evil heart, and neither do most pastors. However, we make them, and sometimes they are, well, just dumb. Here are some of the dumbest mistakes I’ve made.

Assuming everybody understands what I meant.

Just because people remain silent when I share my idea does not mean that they get it or agree with it. I’ve learned the hard way that I must pry feelings from those who don’t speak up when I share a new initiative. Otherwise, their concerns will show up later and probably surprise me.

Getting defensive when somebody didn’t buy into my plan.

Sometimes I’ve unintentionally conveyed to others that every aspect of the church vision must start with me. And if it’s not my idea, it must not be from God. Perhaps in the Old World top-down command-and-control style of leadership that thinking worked. It doesn’t in today’s environment.

Believing that my position as pastor automatically elicited trust from the church.

Positional leadership does not guarantee trust from potential followers. I’ve learned that church people only give a certain level of trust in leaders, often low at first. And most likely the trust they have extended to spiritual leaders has taken a hit in the past. I’ve learned that I must go the extra mile to build trust with those in the church.

Not communicating enough.

I’ve heard mega-church pastors such as Rick Warren say that because vision leaks, he revisits the church vision every 30 days. He’s right. We must continually communicate not only the vision, but other important issues in the church as well. We almost can’t over-communicate.

Thinking everybody will love, remember, and apply my really great, God-anointed, exegetically sound sermons.

I used to think that a well crafted sermon I spent 25 hours preparing would light up the hearts and minds of those who were in church that day. Unfortunately, the mind can only absorb so much and if those who listen to my sermons get and apply one insight, they are doing well. I’ve since tried to find ways to make a few cogent points really stick through brain-based communication insight.  You can read my blog here about brain based preaching.

Failing to realize the concept of “uninformed optimism.”

The bell curve of change tells us that initially those in a church tend to be excited about a positive new idea or initiative. It’s called uninformed optimism. In the listeners’ minds the idea initially seems really great. However, that optimism often only lasts until they realize what the change may cost them (inconvenience, more money, etc.) That new phase is called informed pessimism. I’ve since learned to prepare myself for some eventual pushback when the realities of the change finally set in. Tempering my expectation has helped me manage my disappointment when the resistance comes.

Pause and Reflect:

  • What dumb and dumber mistakes have you seen other leaders make? Why were they dumb? Did you see yourself making these same mistakes?
  • What are some things we can do to either avoid making them or to overcome the consequences they cause when we do make them?
  • What can we as leaders do to help emerging leaders avoid these mistakes?

– Charles Stone

Charles Stone
Charles Stonehttp://charlesstone.com/
Both Charles and his wife Sherryl  have a heart for pastors and pastors’ wives. They have taught hundreds of pastors and their wives in the United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Mexico. Charles earned an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He just began another master’s degree in Neuroleadership. He’s also an avid Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket fan. He has been professionally trained in these areas by these organizations: Life Coaching through the Professional Christian Coaching Institute Strategic Planning through Ministry Advantage (certified) Vision Clarity through the Church Unique Process (certified) Conflict Management through Peacemakers Charles is the author of three books – Daughters Gone Wild – Dads Gone Crazy (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them (Bethany House, 2010), and People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership (Inter-Varsity Press, January 2014). He loves to fish, ride his recumbent bike, and go to the movies with Sherryl, his wife of 33 years (he always gets the jumbo bag of popcorn with a free refill). They have three grown children: Heather, age 30, who is married to Charlie; Joshua, age 29, who is married to Deborah; and Tiffany, age 26, who lives at home. One canine also makes his home with them in Spring Grove, Illinois.

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