12 DESTRUCTIVE PASTORAL BEHAVIORS
BY CHARLES H. BOWENS III
Are you undoing your preaching with the way you practice your faith? Beware if you fail this simple evaluation.
Effective leadership is critical to any ministry. If the work and church of Jesus Christ are to be positive influences in the larger
church and the world, they must first be positive influences within the spiritual kingdom where the Lord’s body of believers assemble each Sunday. Unfortunately, this may not be the case in many of our churches today. Many majestic churches with admirable visions and dynamic ministries are suffering from “leadership malfunction.”
There are leaders throughout the nation and world who are doing effective jobs in their God-ordained ministries. However, there are also many leaders who are a liability to the kingdom of God. They are suffering from a mild to severe case of “leadership malfunction.” Some are simply ignorant of their disorder, some are too proud to face their dilemma, and others simply don’t know what to do to obtain divine healing and restoration.
As a Bible teacher, educator and assistant pastor, God has allowed me to experience many of the same problems I am about to
discuss. We all suffer from some of these afflictions sometime during our Christian walks. God is merciful, forgiving, longsuffering and full of grace. He wants to heal us and bring us back to our divine positions of influence and service.
My prayer is that if you are currently a spiritual leader or pastor of any church or ministry you will take the time to evaluate
yourself. Refer to this list of 12 behaviors that will devastate a leader’s effectiveness to improve your leadership skills and to better
serve the people of God. If we have a personal desire for spiritual insight and a willingness to grow spiritually, God promises to make a difference in and through us.
1. BECOMING PROGRAM-DRIVEN
Leaders who promote programs rarely promote people. Christ came to save people, not programs; souls, not events. A leader’s main emphasis should always be to equip people through systematic discipleship for God approved worship, God-answered prayer, God-promoted evangelism, God-designed ministry and God-enhanced fellowship. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11, NKJV).
2. EMPHASIZING ONLY A FEW CORE CHURCH PURPOSES
Leaders who promote only one or two of the core purposes for the church (see Acts 2:42-47) will find their churches out of balance. According to Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church, the church that Jesus Christ is building is always engaged in five basic dimensions or core purposes:
growing stronger through worship
growing deeper through discipleship
growing larger through evangelism
growing broader through ministry
growing warmer through fellow ship.
One of the greatest challenges leaders face is keeping a balance between all five purposes and screening out any church activity that does not support or agree with one of the five purposes.
3. ALLOWING DECISIONS TO BE CONTROLLED BY EMOTIONS AND FEEIINGS
Leaders who allow their emotions to dictate and influence their decision will likely make the wrong decision most of the time. Our
feelings are no the best guides to use when making decisions. God has given leaders the gift of discernment to help them make wise decisions. However, this gift can only be used in conjunction with God’ Word and prayer.
Discernment is the gift that enable leaders to judge, test, prove, examine or separate. The Greek root wore anakrino means “to
discern.” Only God can judge in order to condemn. The Greek word krino means “to condemn,” which is translated “to judge” in Matthew 7:1-5. Discernment does not condemn or judge negatively.
Anakrino, which means “to discern” or “to determine the excellence or defects of a person,” is translated “to discern” in 1
Corinthians 2:1415. The Holy Spirit gives leaders the ability to discern, or prove, that which is good or evil. Only decisions that rely on God’s Word and His Holy Spirit will be correct.
4. BEING DICTATORIAL AND CRISIS-ORIENTED
Leaders who only become involved when there is a crisis or who must always be in charge are insecure and often ineffective. Crisis-oriented and dictatorial leadership produces fear, intimidation and a lack of unity.
God has called leaders to be servants, not dictators. “‘And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–just as
the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many'” (Matt 20:27-28).
The Lord wants leaders to be proactive, spiritual and servants in practice as well as in doctrine (see I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7, 9-10: Phil
5. NOT VALUING STAFF MEMBERS’ SUGGESTIONS OR WISDOM
Leaders who always seem to have the answers and seldom seek advice from trusted associates soon become isolated and alienated from those who can offer the most practical counsel. Senior pastors have a great challenge. They must constantly seek to be what the public expects and perceives them to be. And they often mistakenly believe they must always have all the answers–whether they are right or wrong.
No one has all the answers to every situation or problem. God made us interdependent, not independent. If we y had all the answers, we would not need each other. An effective leader under stands that trusted associates are his L best asset. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
6. LACKING INTEGRITY AND DECISIVENESS
Leaders who place integrity above the position make a positive difference for the kingdom. One of the qualities of leadership required by God is that the leader “must be blameless” (1 Tim. 3:1). To be blameless is to have godly integrity or a track record that reflects a lifestyle that has not brought reproach upon the name of Christ.
Effective leaders maintain high standards, and integrity is usually at the top of their lists. The American College Dictionary
defines ethics as “principles of morality, the rules of conduct,” while integrity is defined as “soundness of moral principle and character, uprightness, honesty.”
Leaders without character or integrity are like ships in a sea without a rudder. They simply drift at the mercy of the waves of
life, often tossed to and fro without any ability to maintain a steady course or clear vision of land.
A lack of integrity weakens one’s ability to make sound decisions. When decisions are made, they are often influenced by
outside forces rather than from God’s Word, prayer and strong convictions. The outcome is often devastating. The work of God suffers, and the people of God are crippled. James says, “A double-minded man [is] unstable in all his ways” (1:8). Leaders with integrity can be trusted and, most of all, they can be followed.
7. PROMOTING PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
There is a strong urge for leaders to boast about their ministries, churches or accomplishments. The Bible has much to say
about boasting and bragging. In Proverbs 27:2, the Scriptures remind us, “Let another man praise thee, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” James 3:5 says the tongue is dangerous and can produce an emotional fire that can cause much damage: “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!”
Effective leaders understand that it is not good or wise to talk or brag so much. Boasting and bragging leads to folly and lying. “He
who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Prov. 17:27-28).
Aside from talking less and listening more, an effective leader understands that he can do nothing outside of God’s power. Everything that occurs is the direct result of the Lord’s divine power. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” John 15:5).
8. WASTING TIME AND ENGAGING IN ENERGY LEAKS
Leaders must understand the Lord did not waste time. He used every moment for the Father’s business. Leaders who engage in
confrontational arguments, lead Bible studies that promote strife and entangle themselves in the affairs of the world lose precious
opportunities to make a difference for the kingdom.
Paul reminded Timothy not to get involved in situations that prevented him from spending quality time with God in His Word (see 2 Tim. 2:4). He also urged leaders to be humble, gentle, patient and meek toward all men. (see 2 Tim. 2:24-25).
9. FAILING TO MAINTAIN A PURE AND GODLY LIFESTYLE
Leaders who fail to maintain an effective accountability process through which mature and trusted staff are empowered to challenge behaviors, comments and actions that are not acceptable, ethical or appropriate in the eyes of God find themselves at the mercy of Satan and all of his temptations.
Those who refuse to be held accountable by trusted friends soon fall from grace into sin. The sin not only destroys the man, but also damages the ministry and the lives of many who trusted him. God demands that leaders purge themselves and actively be vessels of honor that are sanctified for the Master’s use. That will only become a reality if the leader is truly willing to “flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22).
10. REFUSING T0 EXEMPLIFY TACT AND DIPLOMACY
Leaders who live by the motto, “The buck stops here,” and who demand that their rank and position be recognized in a demanding and arrogant manner are not serving as examples of Christ. One of the most real qualities of a leader is the God-given ability to be tactful and to practice diplomacy.
In Spiritual Leadership, Oswald Sanders said: “The original meaning of tact was the sense of touch, and it came to mean skill in
dealing with persons or sensitive situations. It is defined as intuitive perception, especially a quick and fine perception of what is
fit and proper and right; a ready appreciation of the proper thing to say or do, especially a fine sense of how to avoid giving offense.”
Tact and diplomacy are closely related. “Combining those two words,” Sanders wrote, “there emerges the idea of skill in reconciling opposing viewpoints without giving offense or compromising principle.”
When leaders speak to people in tones that hurt feelings, damage emotions or simply cause fear, the child of God suffers. Some people are able to confront many of these leaders, but most people are often too afraid or weak to deal with the situation, and they soon become wounded sheep who end up becoming meat for wolves. Leaders who give excuses for using intimidation, threats and other ungodly tactics to get their points across only bring reproach to the cause of Christ.
Effective leaders are gentle and meek, regardless of the situation. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to
all, able to teach, patient” (2 Tim 2:24). One of the greatest examples in the Bible of a -leader using tact and diplomacy was Joshua, the leader of the Israelites appointed by God after Moses died (see Josh. 22:1-34).
Sanders commented: “The diplomacy he displayed in resolving the potentially bitter and explosive [situation]…created by the tribes of Reuben and Gad’s erecting another altar was further tribute not only to his native gift but to the wisdom he had learned in the school of God. Joshua’s division of the promised land among the Israelites affords an outstanding biblical example of the employment of tact and diplomacy. The tactful manner in which Joshua was able to handle the transaction was evidence not only of human sagacity but of his close walk with God.”
11. NOT PROVIDING VISION AND INSIGHT, AND FAILING TO COMMUNICATE RELEVANT INFORMATION
Leaders must understand that 21st century society is not interested in theology for the sake of sharing knowledge. People will listen to leaders who have a practical and real message/solution to help them deal with problems and circumstances.
Scripture reminds us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one l another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your – hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). Effective leaders communicate God’s vision, s provide spiritual insight and make the message understandable to all.
Bible studies that fail to provide answers, give solutions and offer hope will soon lose their crowds. People will not come and have
leaders waste their time. Society provides too many other outlets. Effective leaders understand this principle and use every opportunity to make a positive difference.
12. TACKING SINCERE WORSHIP, COMMITMENT AND A COMING KINGDOM
Effective leaders teach that God is holy, loving, forgiving and in the business of saving. Effective leaders also: share the cost of discipleship, the need to sell all for the cause of Christ and the rewards of total commitment place true worship above experience, holy living above simply existing, and doing the work of God above personal interest encourage converts to develop a real relationship with Christ, mature believers to be excellent examples for Christ, and sinners to repent and return to their original position of honor and service in Christ remind the flock that it is all right to “Praise ye the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (Ps. 149:1) praise God with joy; love the Lord with all their hearts, souls and minds; and live for Him with gusto preach relevant sermons that encourage, build and provide hope constantly remind the flock that Jesus is soon to come, that they must use their time wisely, and that they can look forward to a great time of fellowship, worship and celebration in glory.
Effective pastoral leaders actively reject the 12 destructive pastoral behaviors so they can make a positive difference for Christ.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY MINISTRIES TODAY, JULY/AUGUST 1999, PAGES 52-54, 56.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.