The harvest is great, but the laborers (leaders) are few. Things haven’t changed much since Jesus said this more than two thousand years ago in Matthew 9:36-38. Bobby Clinton in his seminal book titled, “The Making of a Leader” said the following about this passage,
“When he saw the leaders, He was filled with dismay, because so many quit, so many were set aside, and so many were plateaued and directionless. They had lost their zest for leading. They had no clear philosophy or direction in their leadership. They were leaderless leaders. Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the leaders with clear direction are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth knowledgeable, discerning, and direction-oriented leader-laborers into his harvest.”
There are potential leaders who, with some coaching, training and encouragement, could step up and be impactful leaders in His church but they are reluctant for a number of reasons.
Here are five reasons (adapted from “The Painful Side of Leadership” by Jeff Iorg and expanded on by me) why some leaders remain on the sidelines rather than get into the game and make a difference for the kingdom:
1. They have seen (or experienced) abusive, autocratic or arrogant leaders and have had their understanding of good leadership distorted and disgraced. They have perhaps assumed that this is what Christian leadership looks like and want no part of it.
2. They have a false sense of humility. They think that desiring to be a leader is unbiblical and smacks of pride. They overlook I Timothy 3:1 telling us that aspiring (desiring) to be a leader is admirable and a noble thing to do. Yes, it can morph into the wrong thing and become prideful; but wanting to lead when God is moving you in that direction is a good thing. If you have a calling and a gift that others see in you, it is not pride but honesty that would encourage you to step into what God has in mind for you.
3. They see the abuse some veteran leaders are receiving. Being a leader is not a piece of cake and will involve hardship, misunderstanding, criticism and suffering. Just look at the leaders in the Bible. Additionally, people will be downright mean and abusive to some in leadership. Lead anyway. You are in good company--with all of the leaders in the Bible. The pain goes with the territory, but it’s worth it to hear well done good and faithful servant at the end of your race.
4. They possess a genuine sense of inadequacy. Except for Jesus many, if not most, of the leaders in the Bible felt inadequate. His power shows up best in weak people (I Corinthians 12:9): Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, along with numerous other leaders, felt in over their heads and unworthy to lead.
5. They have an aversion to public scrutiny. James 3:1 reminds us that, as teachers or people in places of prominence, we will be scrutinized by both God and people. When we sin, which we will, and when we screw up, which we will, and when it becomes clear that we are not perfect and do not make perfect decisions, live perfect lives and have perfect families, we can lean into his grace and trust him with our reputations, our fears and our inadequacies.
Are you possibly holding back from stepping up and stepping into some leadership role or responsibility or perhaps are ready to quit for any of the above five mentioned reasons? Please take it before the Lord of the harvest and trust him with your future.
Do you know of a reluctant, but potential, leader? Share this post with him or her.