Why Smart Pastors Fail

failing, failI just finished reading You’re in Charge–Now What by Thomas Neff and James Citrin. The book targets leaders moving into new positions. Whether or not you find yourself in a new ministry role, read this book. It’s a great read.

The last chapter is worth the price. The authors give ten traps for new leaders by playing off the book Why Smart Executives Fail by Sydney Finkelstein where those authors list seven destructive behaviors leaders in failing companies show.

Below, I’ve tweaked those 10 to make them applicable for ministry leaders.

A pastor can fail if he…

  1. sets expectations too high (by never meeting them) or too low (and thus disappointing high performing leaders in the church)
  2. makes rash decisions or suffers from analysis paralysis
  3. appears to have all the answers
  4. ties his or her identity too closely to ministry success
  5. fails to see reality (remember the fable ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes”)
  6. squashes dissenting opinions
  7. doesn’t keep his role in context (remember, we are not the savior, Jesus is)
  8. misses who really holds the power (just because power roles are written down somewhere does not mean they reflect who really holds the power)
  9. tries to win every battle
  10. bad-mouths the previous pastor or ministry leader

What would you add to this list?


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