Why we should enter Christian leadership reluctantly

More thoughts from Dan Allender


A good leader will, in time, disappoint everyone. Leadership requires a willingness to not be liked, in fact, a willingness to be hated.


But it is impossible to lead people who doubt you and hate you. So the constant tug is to make the decision that is the least offensive to the greatest number and then to align yourself with those who have the most power to sustain your position and reputation in the organization.


Doubt is the context for surrender. And flight is the path for obedience. When we’re reluctant to lead, doubting ourselves and our call, we are ripe for growth as a leader.


We should bless men and women who have done their level best to escape leadership but who have been compelled to return and put their hand on the tiller. We should expect anyone who remains in a formal leadership context to experience repeated bouts of flight, doubt, surrender, and return. Why would this be God’s plan? Why does God love the reluctant leader? Here is one reason: the reluctant leader is not easily seduced by power, pride, or ambition.


The reluctant leader detoxifies power by empowering others to bring their vision, passion, and gifts to the enterprise. She creates an environment of open debate that honours differences and where no one fears reprisal.


A reluctant leader knows that her calling to lead is ridiculous, but she bears the high glory of God’s decision to call weak fools into the work of leading others. Consequently, a reluctant leader smiles at the striving ambition of power- hungry leaders to make more and keep more.


2 Responses

  1. Rob Lampard

    Thanks to Tony for taking the time to pen this for us. It’s certainly stimulating stuff for those who are willing to grapple with it. A couple of queries.

    “A good leader will, in time, disappoint everyone.” So a bad leader won’t? That’s a possible implication which springs to mind. It’s suggested to me that this statement should be interpreted to mean, “Even a good leader … “, in which case it would have been much better to phrase it like this in the first place.

    “Flight is the path for obedience.” Sorry. As stated, that seems a bizarre contention. Maybe it would be better phrased, “Some leaders will only come to obedience thru times of potential or actual flight”? Or “The temptation to flee is … “

  2. Tony Thompson

    Thanks for your thoughts Rob, helpful.

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