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Three reasons most people don’t reach their leadership potential

March 28, 2012

1) They’ve never had a leader willing or interested in investing in them. In other words, they’ve got a really steep learning curve ahead of them AND they already feel inadequate.

2) They’ve had a leader(s) invest in them, but they weren’t a terribly competent leader. In other words, they’ve received investment, but it wasn’t the kind of investment needed to help them reach their potential. In many ways, it was the blind leading the blind.

3) They had a leader invest in them, but never really learned what they had to share or put it into practice. In other words, they are what Jesus would call a foolish man. They heard something and saw something true and worthwhile, but didn’t do anything with it. Often this has to do with humility vs. arrogance.




11 Comments leave one →
  1. Guest permalink
    March 28, 2012 2:06 am

    and, maybe a fourth (or a variation of your third). . .they had good investment but were prevented from putting that into practice by organizational structures and “rules” that held them back.

    This is not foolishness on the trainee’s part, but a systemic problem in the group which limits the opportunities for that person to really stretch, grow and reach toward their potential.

  2. March 28, 2012 10:54 am

    I agree with the above. Some are invested in and then held back for various reasons.

  3. Mark permalink
    March 28, 2012 11:28 am

    The established churches make a great play of raising up Leaders within the laity, and then do not give them the autonomy to act. They do not want leaders, they want helpers and more to the point they want helpers that are easy to manipulate.

    When someone who has been designated as a leader in the church feels as though he is being called to take his or her service to God above and beyond what is considered normal in the local congregational church they are immediately shut down. Since they are acting under the local clergy there are several possible reasons for this.

    1) They are only helpers and not leaders this could involve additional work for the local clergy who feel as though they have to control everything within the local congregation (when will they realize they are not in control?)

    2) Since there are no real leaders only helpers within the church it is the clergy that are responsible for actions of these so called leaders and they are concerned about upsetting the district superintedant or even the Bishop.

    3) The Clergy are concerned about the congregation becoming alarmed because they may be asked to do something other than turn up and tithe.

    4) The clergy are concerned about someone doing what they know they themselves should be doing, and do not want too bright a light being shone on that arena.

    A yoke has only space for two, whilst individuals are forced to be yoked with the clergy neither can be yoked with Christ. Until the Clergy have faith that Christ will send them the leaders they need and then give leaders the autonomy to act and to yoke themselves with Christ in their actions there will be no true leaders within the established Church.

    The business world learned this long ago that you need to employ people to do a job and then let them do it, micro management does not work.

    • April 14, 2012 10:35 pm

      There are whole, and very large, organizations within denominations who are tasked with the formal holding back of leaders so as to preserve the status quo and comfort levels of local congregations. I could name names but why bother. Many local pastors have had their legs cut out from under them just at the point where great movements of God are on the cusp of breaking through.

  4. brianawilliamson permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Brian Williamson.

  5. Rob Shoaff permalink
    March 28, 2012 1:38 pm

    Mike, I definitely agree. Without getting into the “natural born leaders” vs. the “made leaders,” it comes down to – in large part – immitation. Unfortunately, many of us in vocational ministry have a leadership model that is a “trained by fire” approach and are left lacking in areas where we could be incredibly strong and even more influential. And then there are others who have learned from some, who, as you pointed out are not good leaders at all. It becomes a type of “samson Syndrom” in which we have a large bag full of what-not-to-do’s.
    Gratefully, we have the perfect example of leadership in our Lord Jesus…and some who have taken up the mantle of His mission and vision to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples……………thanks, Mike for being one of those leaders!

  6. March 28, 2012 2:10 pm

    As someone who hasn’t been invested in, I hope there is going to be some follow up article on where to go next. Personally I am acutely aware of the lack because of this, and the learning curve is an uphill slog. I feel the issues are exaserbated by not being in a denomination, and not having suitable people in my church who have this mindset either.

  7. Jagee' Valentine permalink
    March 28, 2012 3:14 pm

    I so agree with the above. Often we have great leadership qualities in ourselves, we have the vision of where we are going, unfortunately not enough support or mentoring to get us there. As for discipleship, we are all called to become disciples who as you said will further this and support more disciples. We are not all leaders, but some are followers who in the shadows pass on that lesson Jesus wanted us all to learn…share in the kingdom and all will know…..

  8. Tim permalink
    March 28, 2012 4:51 pm

    Thanks for this Mike.
    I have noticed that some people fail to reach their potential through a lack of ambition on behalf of the leadership mentor. Whether that is to prevent someone outshining them or just a limited world view, I don’t know. One thing for sure, every leader should be able to point to maybe a couple of people that they are growing, releasing and encouraging… I effect every leader should be able to indentify someone who could replace them or even be better than them. Jesus seemed to be quite relaxed about his disciples doing ‘more’ than Him in ministry terms…

  9. Stephen Lockhoff permalink
    March 29, 2012 8:20 pm

    What I feel that we need to do in the body of Christ is enable the ” priesthood ” of believers . Each and every one of us is given the responsibility to plant the D. N. A . of the gospel into our contexts of where we live , work and play . Not only plant the gospel but nurture those on whom we infiltrate this marvelous kingdom of light .Jesus himself gave us( his disciples ) our marching orders over two- thousand years ago when he said ” go and make disciples ( in this case leaders )of all nations. Without going into too much detail , we are talking about what Alan Hirsch calls Apostolic Genius. In each and every one of us who proclaim to be Christians this D. N . A. lies waiting to be tapped . All we need to do is join those who understand this Ephesians 4 calling . Some to be Apostles , Prophets, Evangelists,Shepherds (Pastors ) and Teachers . Inherent in this five- fold ministry lies the sleeping giant of Leadership . Of course , Jesus is the Head of his church . Everything in the universe takes its cue from the Son of God. All that to say , if it was good enough for the author and finisher of our faith it is good enough for me . Is Jesus enough? Thanks Mike Your Brother in Christ , Stephen Lockhoff

  10. Laurie Kallinen permalink
    April 22, 2012 1:38 pm

    Two points come to mind here. First there is a difference between training and mentoring. I think this is often the real reason leadership training falls short. Often times people receive a measure of training, but are then dropped in to leadership with no further mentoring. Conducting a “leadership class” is easy enough, but when the class ends it is much more difficult and time consuming to follow up and actually disciple new leaders. They are tossed to the provervial wolves and tried by fire with little or no follow-up. This doesn’t follow Jesus’ example of training his disciples for a couple years before sending them out.

    Secondly, it has been a growing thought in my mind that not everybody is called to be the leader in the forefront. There is a growing movement to make leaders within some church denomonations, emphisis being put on the person at the front of the room. Many people, however, may be called to serve, but not in that capacity. True leadership comes when a person’s gifts and talents are identified and then they are given opportunity to operate in those gifts and talents to their full potential. Ultimately, the definition of leader needs to be re-examined, in my opinion.

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