7 Things Every Leader Needs to Quit

I work with a lot of hurting leaders, mostly who lead within our churches. My most recent Ministers Health Survey revealed there are some genuine concerns among our church’s leadership.

I’ve often wished I could say something to every leader. There are some things I’ve learned the hard way. I often share things leadership should do, but today I thought it wise to share some things not to do.

Here are 7 things every leader needs to quit:

Measuring success compared to another’s success – Your leadership will not be like someone else’s leadership. It’s not designed to be. You’ll likely be successful in ways other leaders aren’t. Some of those may be visible and measurable, but some may not be. The goal should be to be the best leader you can be and measure your success by your obedience to being the leader God has designed you to be.

Pretending to have all the answers – There’s an unfair expectation many leaders face to be the person with the answer in every situation. Seriously, how’s that working for you? The sooner you admit you don’t have all the answers, the quicker your team will be willing to fill in your gaps.

Trying to be popular – If you want to be popular, be a celebrity. If you want to be a leader, be willing to do the hard tasks to take people where they need (and probably want to go), but may be resistant along the way. Leadership can be lonely at times. Be prepared.

Leading alone – Just because leadership can be lonely, doesn’t mean you have to lead alone. Good leaders surround themselves with people who care, people who can hold them accountable, and sharpen their character and their faith. If you have a tendency to separate yourself from others, stop now and reach out to someone. Take a bold risk of being vulnerable and release some of the weight of responsibility you feel.

Acting like it doesn’t hurt – When people you trust betray you…it hurts. When people rebel against your leadership…it hurts. On days where it seems you have more enemies than friends…it hurts. Don’t pretend it doesn’t. You won’t lead well if you’re a cry baby, but you should have some outlets where you can share your pain.

Trying to control every outcome – Three reasons not to: 1) It doesn’t work. 2) It limits others. 3) It’s not right. Leadership is not about control. It’s about relational influence. When you control others you limit people to your abilities. When you empower people you limit people to their combined abilities as a team…and there’s strength in numbers.

Ignoring the warning signs of burnout – At some point in your leadership, if you really are leading through the deep waters of change, relational differences, or simply the stress of wearing the leader hat, you’ll face burnout. When you start to have more negative thoughts than positive thoughts, when the pressure of leadership is unbearable for a long period of time, or when your leadership starts to negatively impact your physical or emotional health or your relationships, it’s time to seek help.

Be honest: Which of these do you most need to quit?

What else would you advise leaders to quit?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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26 thoughts on “7 Things Every Leader Needs to Quit

  1. Pingback: Fun Finds
  2. Ah, the popularity one is a killer. I'm not an extrovert and spend so much energy trying to be something I'm not. I've been trying to just stop and be the leader I was created to be. Handing over the crazy, upfront tasks to my team members has been so freeing. It's allowed me to realize we have a lot of introverted teens in our group and show that I haven't got it all together.

  3. Ron, great list! The two hardest for me are avoiding comparisons and letting go of popularity. I'm a natural people pleaser and I've grown up in large dynamic churches that seem to have it all together. Another to quit would be trying to do everything on our own strength. There is a temptation, even as a pastor, to let prayer and Scripture reading take a back seat because of how busy life is. There's no faster road to burnout and frustration than that.

  4. As I look at the list I need to quit in some aspect all the above, The last one on burn out I never thought about until I am now looking at it in the mirror. After 20+ years in the ministry I am exausted every day, have no vision as to where i'm going or for that matter where God is leading me. So, instead of bailing out and leaving it all, I am going to try a leave of ministry for a month and get away and regroup. So I would advise my follow ministers, work on all of these before you too experience the last one. Hope this makes sense.

  5. I have the great honor of being able to look back on burn out, that is a great place to be FROM! You learn many things about yourself, including simple things you can do to help avoid it. A good work-out is essential! I hear many people say they are tired whe they get home; when you get home from work, your mind and body are already in work mode, you simply change gears. You relieve the stress, get a cardio work-out. Win-win!
    Twitter: bryankr

  6. Thanks Ron for sharing this. Again great post. Trying to be popular is the hardest for me. I had no idea how lonely leading could be at times. Thanks for the encouragement. Keep it coming.

    • I'm very sorry to hear this. I'm very careful who I place in my inner circle. But I still believe everyone needs someone.

  7. Being one with the people but a step ahead to guide the winding path up the mountain….and showing your fear along that edge, yet sharing your faith that we won't fall.

    Leaders are the same as us, but offer an extended hand that we are comfortable holding.

      • Thanks Ron, in re-reading my entry, don't guess that I suggested anything to quit….you had some great suggestions along with cycleguy's comment above.

        I guess, my corrected input would be….it's ok to be wrong and re-think the situation or say "let me think on that and I will get back with you"…..maybe PONDER situations a little bit instead of feeling the urge to give an answer right off the bat.

  8. I used to think I had to act like I had all the answers. That got me no where. I think my biggest struggle is when people hurt me and trying to act like it doesn't bother me.