Reaching Millennials — Is There One Way?

Thumb Up young couple

This is a guest post by my son Nate:

My name is Nate, and I’m a millennial.
That means I must love liturgy, hate big production in church, want to ask really hard questions about faith all the time, go do organized “social justice” every Saturday, am nowhere near shallow enough (or I’m just far too clever) to attend a church with a hashtag campaign, want a pastor who preaches messages that are “on point” and filled with “authentic, hard truth”, think that the majority of Christians I grew up with were hypocritical bigots who suppressed all of my doubts, love Jesus but question institutionalized Christianity, yet simultaneously desperately desire a church that will help me get back in touch with the “historic roots” of the Christian faith.

So, church leaders… if you want to reach me and all my millennial friends, decipher how all of that fits together, then get busy changing to become exactly like me so that I can have a church that’s perfect for me. But make sure you stay “authentic” along the way, otherwise we will see straight through you and discount you completely.
Heew. What a difficult task you have. Unless, of course, that’s not true for all (I might even argue, most) millennials.

The last couple weeks, there have been several articles posted about how the church can reach millennials. Below are just two examples.

Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church ‘cool.’

Dear church: An open letter from one of those millennials you can’t figure out

These kinds of posts have been rolling out for a few years now. The reason I’ve decided to write this post is because several older believers and pastors I deeply respect have been sharing the articles, almost as if their ministries are completely irrelevant and headed toward extinction.

I simply don’t believe that’s true.

You can read the rest of the post by clicking

HERE

Ten Things to Know Before Pursuing a New Life Calling

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This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen:

It’s time. Or at least you think it might be. You’ve been sensing a struggle within for awhile, but you’ve kept it to yourself.  You’ve felt a restlessness, a sense that you should be pursuing a new life calling, something more in line with your God-given gifts — but you’re scared to step out without knowing how it will all turn out.

You may be sensing a new calling to get into the pastoral ministry, to get out of the pastoral ministry, to start a church, to start a business, to switch careers, or to revisit a calling left dormant for far too long.

That was my story. Not many years ago, I found myself deep in ministry as the leader of a thriving Christian school. And yet I sensed a restlessness within, an awareness that I had quietly begun to drift into simply existing. I’d allowed God-given writing gifts to lie dormant. And I knew a drifting leader was not what the school needed.

In what was one of the most challenging decisions of my life, I let go of the school and stepped out to pursue a new life calling as a writer, a Kingdom catalyst determined to live a story worth telling where it matters most. My journey, the journeys of others I encountered with similar stories, and the practical faith-stretching lessons learned from it form the framework for my new book A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life.

There are different ways to live with radical faith. Some can look pretty normal on the outside. Most don’t involve relocating your entire family, or even changing careers. But when your God-given dreams do require you to step out in a significant, life-changing way, here are some lessons I learned from having gone through the process of stepping out before I knew how it would all turn out.

What You Need to Know Before You Go

1. You do not have as much help as you think you do. If you’re expecting people to respond as if in a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life, think again. Sure, family and friends will help as they are able. But most people have lives and pressing issues of their own.

2. You have more help than you think you do. Instead of expecting other people to come through, expect God to show up as you learn to trust Him in ways you never imagined possible. Only when we had no other choice but to trust God did we realize we should have been trusting Him more fully in the first place.

3. You do not have the faith you think you do. But don’t let that stop you. You will grow it along the way. When we place great faith in our great God, we pull back the curtains to reveal more of his majesty. And that just makes us want to trust Him more — so we can take one more step. The test of your faith is what it takes to stop you.

4. Not everyone will understand what you are doing. In fact, a lot of people aren’t going to get it. And that’s OK. The truth is that when you step out to live an authentic life, one that is true to what you believe about your God-given gifts, you will scare some people. I saw it in their eyes when they congratulated me for making the move and stepping out into the unknown while praying it never happened to them. To minimize discouragement, only go public when you know you’re going to follow through.

5. Someone understands and supports what you are doing. You’ll want to find that person early in the process. I enlisted a life coach as I began the transition. As your life situation shifts, you may not have ready access to advisors you regularly lean on. It is critical that you find someone you can trust who shares your faith and who will speak the truth in love to you along the way.

6. You’ll need encouraging success stories. You’ll find plenty of negative thinking out there, in addition to the thoughts you’ll have on your own. One of the most encouraging things for my wife was to learn of other FaithWalkers who had already emerged on the other side of significant life transitions. She found great comfort in Biblical stories, as well, such as those of Abraham and Sarah — ordinary people who lived memorable stories by walking with extraordinary faith.

7. You must make a habit of praying — hard. Don’t wait until a crisis arrives before cultivating a deeper prayer life. Henri Nouwen said, “Prayer is a great adventure because the God with whom we enter into a new relationship is greater than we are and defies all our calculations and predictions.” Share your concerns with God before sharing them with others.

8. You’ll need to repeat the previous step. Often. If you think you don’t have time to pray, that’s exactly when you know you should. It’s when we have no communion with God that we hear no calling from God.

9. You can expect to fail. You should also expect to get back up. We focus a lot on Peter’s failure to keep walking on the water in the midst of great uncertainty. But seldom do we consider how he got back into the boat. Matthew doesn’t tell us Jesus carried the soaking-wet disciple or magically transported him. The most likely answer? Peter walked. On water. Again.

10. Get a lot of counsel, but listen most closely to those who’ve actually done what you are thinking of doing. Seek out those who’ve been there, done that. These days, you can buy the t-shirt online. But scars only come from experience.

Bill Blankschaen is the author of A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life, just released from Abingdon Press. A writer, speaker, and content strategist, he blogs at Patheos on church and culture and at FaithWalkers.com where he helps Christians live an authentic life with abundant faith. Follow on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

3 Must-Haves for Leadership Success Today

female leader

To be successful today there are a few things we must have. We’ve always needed them. We need them even more today.

Here are 3 must-haves for success in leadership today:

Efficiency – There is never enough time or enough me. All leaders are pulled in so many directions. It’s easy to get distracted — and distractions are almost always things of lesser value. If you don’t have a plan for each day you’ll waste most of them — certainly not live up to the day’s potential. Today’s leader must learn and master efficiency.

Adaptability – Things are changing fast. Profusion is at an all time high. By the time I learn my phone there’s another update or another phone. And, it impacts every area of our life. If we are not going to change our core values and mission — and we shouldn’t — nor should we have to — then we must learn to adapt our strategies, systems and processes. Doing the same things that previously worked is no longer a sole option. We must embrace change.

Accountability – This is not a holdover from an 90’s Promise Keepers movement. Honestly, it’s a growing new concern for me. In my opinion, the focus on strong leadership can be taken to an extreme. We have created some powerful people with limited accountability. Church plants can be notorious for this. How many moral failures do we need to observe to understand this one? If you can create energy around a vision and attain a level of success, a leader can be given way too much individual authority — with no one to speak into the dark parts of the leader’s life. If numbers are good, budgets are met, many pastors are given way too much authority. I see this in business also, but it’s closer to me in churches.

I’m sure there are many more. Those are the three on my mind.

5 Things Job’s Friends Teach Me About Being a True Friend

View of business people consoling colleague.

I’ve always been captivated by the friends of Job.

You remember Job. The man of suffering. He suffered the loss of everything.

Somewhere in the grief process his friends came. Start about Chapter 2. They provide a bulk of dialogue in the book.

We can learn a few things about how to be friends to those who are hurting from the friends of Job.

Here are 5 words to the friends of Job:

Thanks for showing up. Sometimes physical presence is the most comforting way to help someone grieve a loss. You came when it was uncomfortable to be a friend. That’s when a true friend is found. You even sat with him — apparently not even eating — for seven days. Thank you. Your witness is well-noted.

Speak truth. Not what everyone else is saying. Some in your culture believed that all suffering was the result of sin. We know that’s not true about Job. You said some things that sounded good. Culturally acceptable things. But it’s usually best not to provide commentary. Just say what is true. Nothing more. Sometimes that’s only stuff like, “Wow! You’re hurting. I’m sorry. I love you. I’m here for you!”

Not everything has to be explained. You had a lot of “ideas” why Job was suffering. Thanks for your insight. You just couldn’t possibly understand all that God was allowing in Job’s life nor could you predict his final outcome. Sometimes explanations are more burdensome than they are helpful in a time of grief.

Silence isn’t deadly. Seriously. Sometimes silence is gold. Even godly. Look at Ecclesiastes 5:2 for an example. You did that — before you started talking. The days you were silent were possibly as much help to Job as anything you did. It was your presence. Don’t be afraid just to demonstrate your love with your presence more than with your words.

You help me better understand the Bible. The Bible is true. All of it. Cover to cover. I believe that. I know that in the core of my being. Everything in the Bible is truth. But not everything in the Bible is true. It’s truth in that it’s God’s written word. It’s not true unless God said it. Man talks in the Bible. So does the evil one. Some of the things you said weren’t true. You meant well. But, it’s not truth unless it comes from God’s mouth or it amplifies His truth.

So I learn from you — Job’s friends. Thank you.

I must be present when my friends are hurting most. I must not try to explain everything. I must not think everything needs my input or my attempt at a solution. I must be okay with silence. I must not take what I’ve heard — or what’s culturally acceptable — as an indication of truth. I must stick with the Scriptures and an accurate interpretation of them.

And, when I don’t know truth to share — I’ll just be silent. And, be present. Fully present.

7 Unfair Criticisms or Generalizations of Large or Growing Churches

Modern Megachurch

I have only been in ministry about 14 years. In that time, I have been part of two revitalization churches and two church plants. We have been graced with tremendous growth in all four churches. One church was a smaller church, but the other three have grown to be considered larger churches. I grew up in a large church. So, that is most of my church experience.

It goes through seasons, but periodically I will hear less than positive remarks from people about their perception of growing or large churches. Sometimes it comes from within the church — someone who may struggle as the church experiences growth — which always means change. The majority of time, however, the criticism comes from people outside the church making observations about the church.

And, those are the comments I’m addressing here. Comments from people who really do not have experience with larger or growing (especially fast-growing) churches.

These comments are usually well-meaning in terms of the person’s concern for the church. At least, I’m willing to assume. But, they are usually also generalized and often given without complete understanding about the specific church.

These type comments are easily repeated. Some people love to talk. If we are not careful, they become detrimental to the Kingdom. Because some of them — I would even say most — are simply not true. At least in the churches with which I’ve been affiliated directly. (Which are really the only churches we can definitively criticize. And, even then, the larger the church the harder it is to understand all that is taking place within in it.)

Here are 7 unfair criticisms of growing or large churches:

“All you care about is the numbers.”

This is always a funny one for me. Most of the time people who say this are in churches that also count numbers. I’ve been in some very small churches that even post their numbers on the wall in the back of the church. Numbers are important. In all churches. Because they represent people. For me, I don’t want to pastor a growing church where people aren’t equally growing in their individual walk with Christ. Every large church pastor I know personally feels that way. But, to know this one, whether you’re in the church or not, you’d really have to know the heart of the people in positions of leadership. I know this, however, it is certainly not a fair generalization of large or growing churches.

“You are just stealing people from other churches.”

I have found in my ministry a couple of things to be true. First, once someone is involved in their church it is a very difficult decision for them to ever leave. Regardless of the size of the church. Unless they are moving to the community or there is some major uproar in the previous church, it is fairly rare that a truly committed church member joins another church. Second, some people change churches frequently. If you look at their life over a span of decades they will have been in numerous churches. I have known some churches where their primary growth comes from conflict, church splits, or transferred growth. But, these are rare, in my opinion, and have not been the case in churches I have been affiliated with directly.

“You have too much flash and not enough depth.”

Again, this is a funny one to me. The people who are looking for depth – who know enough to be looking for depth – – it would seem to me would know that real depth; real maturity almost always occurs in much smaller settings. The worship service is only one part of discipleship. And, whether a church averages 40 or 4,000, there will need to be some smaller settings for people to grow deeper spiritually.

“People aren’t growing.”

I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard a comment such as, “the larger the church the more immature people you seemed find.” That’s a funny comment to me because I was always pretty good with math. It makes sense to me that more produces opportunity for more. More people — more potential for people who aren’t growing. Something tells me there are some immature people in smaller churches too. (Maybe even some of the ones who spread unfounded generalizations about other churches. Uh oh. Did I say that?)

“People aren’t cared for properly.”

That may be true. And, it might not be. Same would probably be true of smaller churches. In a large church you may not see the pastor every time you’re sick, but if they have a good care system you’ll be cared for in a Biblical community. I have witnessed countless stories of that in some of the churches in which I’ve been a part.

“You won’t get to know anyone.”

That would be like saying if you work at a large company you wouldn’t know anybody you work with. Not true. You won’t be able to just attend the large gathering, never speak to anyone, and expect to develop deeper relationships. But, something tells me, in every large or growing church there will be opportunities to get to know people.

“It’s all about the money.”

As with many of these, you have to think of things in a relative way. It is true that large churches require more money to fund the ministry. Again, that’s just math. But, all churches have a budget. It’s almost always proportional to the size of the church. I have loved watching some large churches that actually are very kingdom-minded and bless churches of all sizes. It’s been amazing to me, for example, to watch as our status church blesses smaller churches. This was something that was happening before me – so it’s not about me. But, I love it.

Here is my advice:
Be careful with generalizations. Look under the hood before you critique the engine. And, never throw stones at what you don’t know.

In fairness, people cast false impressions towards the church that isn’t growing. And, I certainly wouldn’t say that every church in decline or that has plateaued is “making disciples”. Some probably are. Some not as well.

People also make false impressions about small churches. Most of which are probably equally unfair. I have some good friends who are making huge Kingdom impacts in a smaller church. (I’d consider a well-written “7 misunderstandings of small church” guest post.)

Let’s be supporters of churches of all shapes and sizes. Let’s look for fruit, certainly consider the teachings, but take the entire ministry of the church into consideration before we offer generalizations — and certainly before we criticize someone with whom we are supposed to be on the same team.

“Why Would God Send Them Into a Miserable Situation?” – 5 Possible Reasons

Desperate man holding his face in hands appears in a miserable state of unhappiness.

I have the opportunity to speak to dozens of pastors each month. It’s one of my favorite things to do in leadership. Often I will share parts of the conversations I have with my wife Cheryl. She’s a great sounding board and always helps me form a more relational context around the situation.

Recently I was discussing a young pastor who is in a difficult church environment. He is a mid-level staff member and feels God may be opening the door to another opportunity. The problem is — from my perspective — he may be entering another difficult church environment. I said to Cheryl, “It could be miserable for a while.”

Cheryl knew all the principles I’m about to share, but they didn’t resonate before her immediate response.

Cheryl asked, “Would God really call someone into a miserable environment?”

Well, of course, He might. Consider Jonah. What about Elijah? Ever heard of Nehemiah or Noah or Daniel or David or Paul?

Here are 5 reasons God might send someone into a miserable environment:

The Gospel is needed. That’s why Jonah was being sent. People needed to know the Living God. They weren’t yet seeking. They were very wicked people. That’s why Jonah didn’t want to go. But, God was seeking them. He wanted to use Jonah to reach them.

People need renewed hope. And, that’s a Gospel issue too. Imagine the “atmosphere” among the Israelites when Moses showed up to offer deliverance. They were frustrated, scared, oppressed, lonely from lack of interaction with God. But, Moses was being used as the deliverer from suffering into a renewed hope.

To show people a better way. It was probably a tense moment when Peter first arrived to the brothers after his time with Cornelius. Good disciples didn’t hang out with uncircumcised men like him. But, Jesus had brought a new message — one of grace — not one of rules. Peter was a messenger of grace.

We learn to trust more. We develop more in environments of tension. Abram left all that he knew to go to a strange land. He went without a good plan — certainly not one he could see very far ahead. That must have been miserable. Yet, God was using Abram to become Abraham — father and example of our faith. Faith is always going where you cannot see. Without Genesis 12, Abraham would have never been ready for Genesis 22.

God gets the glory. Who gets the glory when the credit goes to us? But, when we are in a miserable environment — and God shows up — who gets the glory? Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. He was eventually thrown into a prison cell. Miserable existence for someone who had tried to do the right thing. Yet, God raised Joseph to a seat of honor. Who gets the glory in that story?

I’m sure there are many other reasons God would send someone into a miserable environment. I should be clear, it’s not at all that God loves to see His people miserable. That would be absolutely contrary to everything else we know about the character of God. I do believe, however, that God is very purposeful to work things for good. And, sometimes the best good comes from the most miserable — when the power of God is at work.

His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

4 Principles Learned from the Book of Esther

Bible

I love the story of Esther. If you haven’t read it lately, you can do so HERE.

Here are the four principles I’ve observed from the story of Esther.

1. God has a special plan for your life.

Esther was placed in a royal position, not by chance, but for a purpose.

Reminds me of one of my favorite verses. Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plan’s his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

God didn’t make a mistake where He has you today. I think we spend too long in our life trying to figure out where God wants us to be or wishing we were somewhere else, instead of just allowing God to do something with our life where we are, while waiting for more to come.

2. Sometimes you will have to go against common sense, against what others advise, even against what you want to do in order to follow God’s plan.

Esther would have to approach the king, though she didn’t have permission. This could have meant certain and sudden death for her since it was even against the law to approach the king. Esther’s response: “If I perish, I perish!”

Sometimes God’s will makes perfect sense, as you examine your experience. (I wrote about that HERE.) That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t be required to take risks for God. The best things in life often come with the greatest risks. The degree of difficulty is not an indication that God is not in it. In fact, the opposite would be closer to truth.

3. The time to follow God’s plan is now.

I find Esther 4:14 interesting. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

We mostly consider that last part of the verse, but notice the “Who knows?” It’s a question. They weren’t sure. They knew she was in the position as queen. She had opportunity to see the King. They knew God wanted to save the people. They knew for whatever reason Esther had been made aware of the plan. But did they know for sure that’s what Esther was supposed to do? Apparently not! They went without being 100% certain. Who knows?

There will be times in your life when you’ve gathered all the information you can, you’ve prayed as well as you know how, you’ve sought Godly counsel; whatever you are doing is not sinful…but there is something inside of you that’s still not sure. You can sleep on it. That’s something I always do. Esther waited 3 days, but at some point you just have to muster the courage to move forward. Without all the answers, are you ready to step out and walk by faith? Don’t be afraid to allow God to determine the outcome.

4. Trusting in God completely brings great rewards.

Esther 8:17 In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

Esther saved a nation. Her obedience saved God’s people from destruction! The reward for obedience was even better than expected. Esther went before the king prepared for the worst case scenario…she got the very best! Many people became followers of God! The people were inspired by the faith of one woman and one man that everything changed in that nation.

It will always prove profitable in the long run to obey God. When others see us living in radical obedience; obedience that makes no sense, they’ll want some of what we have. The world around you is looking for answers; trying to figure out how to make life work. We may not have all the answers, but we know about a God who does.

When was the last time you asked, God what do You want to do through my life? Are you ready to walk by faith?

Three Steps to be an Expert Disciple of Jesus

Jesus hand

Jesus was specific about what it takes to be a good disciple. This isn’t a guessing game.

If we want to mature in our walk with Christ, we should pay close attention.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Here are three steps to be an expert disciple:

First, we must deny ourselves

Jesus is not saying here that we should not own anything. Or want nice things. He is asking us to line our desires with His desires — even when they conflict with our desires. He is asking us to prioritize our life — with God and others in mind. (The first and greatest command — and the second is like it.) In denying ourselves, we are to look to Jesus and not unto our own abilities. Trusting Him when we can’t find our way without Him. That apart from Him, we can do nothing. Deny our fears. Deny our inabilities. Deny our sinful temptations by the power of the Gospel. Deny me — for Him — knowing I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Second, we must take up our cross

I don’t have a cross. At least not literally. But Jesus is encouraging us to carry forth His cross. His agenda. His mission. We are to be the salt of the Earth. We are to spread the Good News. We are to be Christ’s ambassadors to the world, as others see Jesus in us. The message and wonder of the cross — the Gospel — is to be evident in us. We should love the unlovable. Forgive the ones who don’t deserve forgiveness. Extend grace. Attempt to bring reconciliation through Christ. His cross.

Third, we must follow Him

That may seem like the easiest, but it is perhaps the most difficult. It would be easier to write a bunch of rules of what a good little Christian should look like. But, we’d only mess that up into some sort of legalism. Michael Yaconelli once wrote, “Jesus said follow me’, not ‘Follow my rules.” I remember when I was younger playing “follow the leader”. The guy in front made all the moves. The object was to follow the leader exactly. It was usually easier in looks than in practice. Jesus is our leader and every day we need to mimic the Savior. It won’t always be easy. Culture will work against us. Some in the church will still want to write more rules. But Jesus following will always be best. It’s part of being a disciple. In fact, it IS being a disciple.

Which of these three steps do you most need to apply to your life today?

5 Steps to Getting Unstuck

Trapped, Trying To Get Out

What do you do when you are stuck?

I mean you can’t get going again. You can’t find your way. You’re stuck in yesterday’s mistake. Or, you can get stuck in yesterday’s success. 

Perhaps you had a dream, but you got sidelined pursuing it. Perhaps you’ve absorbed all your energy, all your resources, and all your passion, but it didn’t work and now the dream is dead and you don’t know what to do next. 

Maybe you just experienced you’re greatest season ever — but now things are still again — you don’t know how to repeat the success. Or, even how to get started again. 

I understand. I’ve been there several times in my life. On both sides. And, both are frustrating. 

If this is your situation, i have a few thoughts. Based on experience. You can find your momentum again.

Here are 5 suggestions for getting unstuck:

Recharge

Being stuck drains you emotionally and physically. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to spend a season resting and waiting. This doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing, but it does mean allowing yourself a chance to heal. Rest is often the platform for launching next. 

Refocus

Most likely your setbacks — and sometimes your success — takes your focus off of the big picture of your life. You may have been saturated with fear and uncertainty and you are afraid to risk again. You may need a fresh dream or you may need some new dreams, but at some point you will have to lift up your head from the natural self pity that accompanies disappointment and refocus on your future and the plans God has for your life.If you’re coming off of a success, you may begin to believe that all of life is a victory. Spend some time considering what matters most in life. Many times we find it’s things that are there in times of failure or success. Things that money (relationships) cannot buy. 

Redesign

If you have a God-given calling or at least God-honoring and you don’t believe it’s time to give up — then spend time setting some new goals and objectives. You may need to redesign your dream into a contemporary context as culture or your life changes, you mature, or God gives you greater understanding. You may have to tackle things from a different angle, learn something new to help you towards it, or make some new connections with people who can help you move forward. And if your stuck after success – remember what got you there last time may not get you there the next time. It’s time to learn some new tools to spur some new momentum. 

Replace

It’s okay to start something completely new. It is. Many times God leads us through disappointing opportunities — or successful opportunities — to teach us valuable principles to help us achieve other dreams. Don’t be afraid of God doing something new. (Remember: His mercies are new every morning.)

Re-start

One thing is certain, you will never move forward if you are sitting still. Even God-given assignments require a commitment of personal energy and resources. Often people who fail to reach their destination remain sidelined because they never start again after a setback. People who have periods of wild success began to think that is the norm and so they wait for it to naturally happen again. Don’t be a victim of either mindset. Try something new. Find your passion again, get your vision in focus, be willing to take yet another risk — then get started again. 

I should also say that talking to people who have been stuck is a great way to get unstuck. The encouragement that you can start again often is exactly what you need to hear. And the way to find someone who’s been stuck? Simply find someone who has been around a while — and is now successful. Trust me, they’ve survived “stuck”.

Have you ever been stuck? How did you get unstuck?

Let your story encourage others.

7 Examples of Shallow Leadership

shallow pool

Growing in our leadership abilities — including growing in the knowledge of leadership and the relational aspect of leadership– should be a goal for every leader.

Sadly, many leaders settle for status quo leadership rather than stretching themselves to continually improve. They remain oblivious to the real health of their leadership and the organizations they lead. They may get by — people may say things are “okay” — but it isn’t excellent.

I call it shallow leadership.

Perhaps you’ve seen this before in leadership. Maybe you’ve been guilty of providing shallow leadership. For a season, at least. I certainly have.

Still wondering what shallow leadership looks like?

Here are 7 characteristics of shallow leadership:

Thinking your idea will be everyone’s idea. You assume everyone is on the same page. You think everyone thinks like you. You stop asking questions of your team. You stop evaluating. 

Believing that your way is the only way. You’re the leader — you must be right. You’ve had some success. It went to your head a little. So, you’ve become head strong. You’re controlling. You make every decision. You never delegate.

Assuming you already know the answer. You think you’ve done it long enough to see it all. You quit learning. You stop reading. You never meet with other leaders anymore. 

Pretending to care when really you don’t. You have grown cold in your passion. You may speak the vision but they’re just words to you now. You go through the motions. You’re drawing a paycheck. But, truth be known, you’d rather be anywhere than here right now.

Giving the response that makes you most popular. You like to be liked. You never make the hard decisions. You refuse to challenge. You avoid conflict. You run from complainers. You ignore the real problems.

Refusing to make a decision. You had a setback. Things didn’t go as planned. You’ve grown scared. You’re overwhelmed. You refuse to walk by faith. Your team won’t move forward because you won’t move forward.

Ignoring the warning signs of poor health. Momentum may be suffering. Things may not be “awesome” anymore. You look the other way. Your soul is empty. You may be unhealthy. The team may be unhealthy. You refuse to see it.

We never achieve best with shallow leadership. The first step is to admit. 

Have you seen shallow leadership before? What would you add to my list?