Let me introduce a book that deals with some of the potential pitfalls for everyone in pastoral ministry. I plan to apply the principles to my own church and consider what our ministry team can learn from it.
Leadership consultant Pat Lencioni said Mistakes Leaders Make by Dave Kraft1 should be “…required reading for every ministry leader”.
Kraft’s book is all the more poignant because of when and where it was written. It was published in 2012 and came out of the Seattle-based Mars Hill, then led by Mark Driscoll.
Matt Chandler, who took on the mantle of leading the Acts 29 church planting network from Driscoll, comments: “You can make these mistakes yourself or you can learn from those who have made the mistakes and avoid spilling your own blood.”
Alas, the point from subsequent history must be that knowing about the mistakes is not the same as deeply learning from them.
So what are the mistakes he describes, and how can we learn? Let me list them:
1) Allowing Ministry to replace Jesus
2) Allowing Comparing to replace Contentment
3) Allowing Pride to replace Humility
4) Allowing Pleasing People to replace Pleasing God
5) Allowing Busyness to replace Visioning
6) Allowing Financial Frugality to replace Fearless Faith
7) Allowing Artificial Harmony to replace Difficult Conflict
8) Allowing Perennially Hurting People to replace Potential Hungry Leaders
9) Allowing Information to replace Transformation
10) Allowing Control to replace Trust
Kraft works through these by describing a hypothetical leadership team with various staff workers committing these errors. He goes on to relate ‘what happened next’ to them and the church in an engaging way. They act as mirrors to our own lives.
Just reading that list and thinking about it for just a few seconds will make most leaders realise that these are close to the bone. Ouch! They are not far from every one of us.
I have made every one of those mistakes to some extent. Haven’t you? Or is it that you just don’t know you have?
How to use it
These are worth talking through with any leadership team you are part of – an eldership, diaconate, staff or some friends who are working together to see a church go forward with a gospel impact.
Our leadership team plans to discuss a couple at a time so that we protect one another from damage that could otherwise be done.
A painful, but necessary read so that we can then focus on the positives implied in the negatives, and grow healthy churches led by spiritually mature leaders. Work through the pain barrier of such an honest look at yourself, and you and your church will profit.
1. Dave Kraft, Mistakes Leaders Make (Crossway, 2012).