Failing as a leader is OK.

More thoughts from Dan Allender


God loves reluctant leaders and, even better, he loves reluctant leaders who know they are frightened, confused, and broken. In fact, he seems to have a special fondness for rebels and fools. Does God choose troubled leaders because few other people are foolish enough to say yes, or does he choose weak, troubled people because they serve a unique purpose in their broken state? The answer is yes.


Here is God’s leadership model: he chooses fools to live foolishly in order to reveal the economy of heaven, which reverses and inverts the wisdom of this world. He calls us to brokenness, not performance; to relationships, not commotion; to grace, not success. It is no wonder that this kind of leadership is neither spoken of nor admired in our business schools or even our seminaries.


Paul calls leaders not merely to be humble and self-effacing but to be desperate and honest. It is not enough to be self-revealing, authentic, and transparent. Our calling goes far beyond that. We are called to be reluctant, limping, chief-sinner leaders, and even more, to be stories.


The leader who fails to face her darkness must live with fear and hypocrisy. The result will be a defensiveness that places saving face and controlling others as higher goods than blessing others and doing good work.


We assume that if God spoke to us out of a burning bush and told us to do something, we would bow before him and then immediately do as he bid. Not Moses. He stood his ground and fought God’s plan.


Most leaders had no intention or desire to lead; instead they were thrown into the mess by being discontent. If they had been willing to endure life as it was, then they would never have become leaders. The person who merely puts up with life becomes a manager or a bureaucrat, not a leader. The difference between a manager and a leader is the internal urge to alter the status quo to create a different world.


2 Responses

  1. Brian

    Good stuff. I didn’t get how the final paragraph connects to the rest, though as it seems to address another issue (desire to lead). I am also not so sure I agree with that paragraph as I know many leaders who want to lead. The Scriptures commend the desire. The stuff about fear and insecurity and the hypocrisy and control is extremely important and very well clearly, concisely and powerfully stated. Thanks.

  2. Tom Campbell

    Love these thoughts. Starting into life in college I heard George Verwer at a conference. He was always admitting to his sins in public, always throwing himself on God’s grace. He’s still doing this as he nears year 90. God has used him in really great ways. As I write my small sermon for my small church in a small town in northern Bavaria at the beginning of “our” corona virus outbreak, it is a good reminder of the important things. Matt. 16, 24-28. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Liked in particular, “He calls us to … relationships, not commotion.”

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