There is tension in how, when, and if someone should lead.
- On one side, we live in a culture that prioritizes education and experience being necessary for additional opportunities.
- On the other side, we love the one-in-a-million success story that an available opportunity provided for a go-getter.
When it comes to ministry, I have oftentimes seen people fail at opportunities because they simply were not ready.
It doesn’t mean that they couldn’t do what was asked of them, but they couldn’t do it yet. Sometimes people fail because they are being forced into a mantle of leadership that makes them feel uncomfortable. Saul’s armor didn’t fit David, and not every opportunity fits every willing individual.
Sometimes the opportunity is the opposition.
Think I’m making this up? Let’s take a biblical example. Paul told his mentee, Timothy, to gather some elders to lead the church. Align some guys to help watch over the congregation. He gives a list of qualifications that are primarily character issues by nature. One characteristic is very revealing:
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1 Tim. 3:6).
What would keep a man from serving as an elder? He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t seasoned yet. He hadn’t been through enough to determine his mettle.
When you put the right person in at the wrong time, it can lead to a prideful swell that leads to dangerously devilish devastations. The desire for the position and the significance that accompanies can be the downfall of many potential leaders. Forcing them into a place of leadership before it is time can actually rob them of possible leadership at a later date and for a longer time. Paul was clear. The opportunity can be the opposition if you put someone in leadership before it is time.
Unnecessary Reasons Leaders Fail
Even if it isn’t a wise time to lead, some will agree to do it. It can cause serious problems for the individual and the organization. So, why does it happen anyway?
- When a supportive person is fearful of letting the one asking down
- When a second-chair person is forced into a first-chair role
- When we confuse natural talent with leadership capacity
- When someone serves outside of his or her gifting
- When no one has adequately trained the potential leader
- When no one as established clear lines of accountability
- When unrealistic expectations lead to unnecessary stress
We optimistically teach that the opportunity is outside that person’s “comfort zone” and therefore should be pursued, but what if we are trying to make him or her something God never intended him or her to be?
Unfortunate Scenarios That Could Have Been Avoided
Sometimes a leader burns out, stresses out, or flakes out, and it is simply due to we put them in a position he or she never needed to be. The misalignment can actually cause major issues in the life of the individual, church, or ministry. The wreckage is unfortunate. The scars remain. And it could have been avoided.
We realize that it is not that God couldn’t do something through the person, but we were trying to force God to do something through a person He never intended.
If He didn’t make them in that way, we are trying to force it?
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
If God gifts in a certain way and God calls in a certain way, and if these things can’t be altered, why do we find ourselves working against Him? Help a person discover how God has wired him or her and don’t force that servant to be anything else.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.