12 Common Mistakes in Ministry Leadership

Erasing Oops !

I had the occasion over a couple months to ask some senior people in ministry the same question. Some were long retired. Others had 30, 40 even 50 years experience, but are still serving today. All would be considered to have finished — or be finishing — well.

Here was was the primary question:

Looking back, what were some of the biggest mistakes you made in ministry?

If you had it to do over — or you were advising me and others — what advice would you give?

The answers were so similar. I found myself putting check marks beside some of them. The wisdom was timeless. Even profound. Yet simple.

Here are 12 common mistakes in ministry leadership:

Failing to delegate.

Not seeing beyond yesterday or today.

Ignoring the real problems.

Refusing help when I needed it the most.

Not protecting my family enough and/or not continuing to date my wife.

Sacrificing my personal time with Jesus for my working for Jesus.

Celebrating only the spectacular.

Pretending everything is amazing.

Dreaming small dreams…or having no dreams at all.

Creating poor systems or having no systems at all.

Having too much structure or not having enough structure.

Not being vulnerable enough to a few close friends.

It was amazing to me how many of these are themes I consistently write about today. There is truly “nothing new under the son”. It was also encouraging what you can learn if you’re simply willing to ask. I’ve been a wisdom seeker all my life and I highly recommend it. Feel free to try this experiment at home with more senior ministers you know.

Of course, all of these have a story associated with them — as all good principles do. You could share your own. In fact, why don’t you?

What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made — or are making — in ministry?

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

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8 thoughts on “12 Common Mistakes in Ministry Leadership

  1. God bless you Gary,
    It seems like the pages of my pass and I must admit they taught me well. Of course the price was sometimes irrepairable.

  2. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole
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  3. One I really regret was when we were in youth ministry for 10 years it was kind of like 24/7, always available, we never unplugged, always available, always had troubled youth living with us. We did not make relationships with couples our age, we never took a vacation, we used our vacation time to do youth camps in the summer. At the time we thought we did not have "the time" to spare, the youth were troubled, they needed us, lives were being changed…. but now… I wish we had taken some time for us. One thing I learned is replenishment is needed, you are robbing yourself from your next life season and that any amount of time apart is quality time. We should have taken it. The next whole season, we lost it, we were unable to be used by God because the season before we did not take a Sabbath. We ended up really, really struggling for a few years after retiring from youth ministry and by the grace and miraculous hand of God, our family grew through that next season and God restored us! I learned from it. Like now, God has called me online to a prayer-mentoring ministry on twitter, facebook and online church ministry, I could be online 24/7, but on Wednesdays, I unplug from twitter, facebook and online ministry and I take in and replenish my soul from other great ministries like this one, which is so very encouraging. Thank you!
    Twitter: kmac4him