7 Dangers of Leading in Isolation

I sat with a new pastor recently trying to hold a church together long enough to help it build again. The previous pastor left town, after a series of bad decisions; some the church is still finding out about each new day.

Sadly, I see it all the time. This pastor suffered from the same temptation any pastor faces. His number one problem in my opinion: He was leading in isolation. He had no one on the inside of his life who knew him well enough to know when something was wrong and could confront him when necessary.

Leading in isolation is displayed in numerous ways to the detriment of the organization. I see 7 clear dangers of leading in isolation:

Moral failure – Without accountability in place, many people will make bad decisions because no one appears to be looking. We are more susceptible to temptation when we are alone.

Burnout – There is an energy we gain from sharing life with other people. When the leader feels he or she is alone the likelihood of burning out, emotional stress and even depression increases.

Leadership Vacuum – The leader is clueless to the real problems in the organization and is fooled into believing everything (including the leader) is wonderful. (I wrote about the leadership vacuum HERE and HERE.)

Control Freak – The leader panics when others question him or her. He or she tries to control every decision.

Limits other people – The leader in isolation fails to communicate, invest, and release, which keeps others leaders from developing on the team.

Limits leader – The isolated leader never reaches his or her full potential as a leader, because he shuts out influences, which would help him or her grow.

Limits organization – In the end, the leader who leads in isolation keeps the organization from being all that it can be. Because the leader sets the bar (read more about that thought HERE), if the leader is in isolation the organization will suffer.

Leaders, are you living in isolation? Do you need to get out of the protective shell you’ve made for yourself? The health and future success of your organization depends on it.

(I realize many pastors of smaller churches feel they have no option, but to lead in isolation. You feel you have no one you can truly trust in your church and you have isolated yourself, for various reasons, from others in the community. As hard as it may seem, and as great as the risk may appear, you must find a few people to share your struggles with to avoid these dangers. If you need help, please email me today.)

What would you add to my list as a danger of leading in isolation?

Waiting Doesn’t Always Mean NO Activity

Inactivity rarely produces anything…
Waiting on God doesn’t always mean doing nothing…

Jesus said, “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4)… He was in a time of waiting…yet He continued to act on what He could do…carrying out His Father’s work…

Do what you know to do today…
Take initiative towards change you know you should make…

In Joshua 3 they had to get in the water before it started to part…You may have to get in the water first, before you start to see results…

Create action…it is often then God begins to reveal the destination He is taking you towards…

What action do you need to take today?

10 Problems with Doing the Best You Know How

Years ago in a company I owned, there was a young man who worked for me who had tremendous potential. I believed in him so much that I personally invested in him and paid special attention to him. I thought his future with our company was worth the extra time. Sadly, he never measured up to my expectations and we ended up having to part ways.

Every time I would meet with him to “encourage” him, he would say the same thing. “I’m doing the best I know how to do.” I have come to realize over the years that this response was actually his primary problem. He was doing the best he KNEW HOW to do. The best you know how to do is never the best you can do!

Here are 10 problems when you do the best you know how to do:

  • You leave out a critical thinking…
  • You quit learning new things…
  • You fail to be stretched…
  • You never develop personally…
  • You quit asking questions…
  • You resist change…
  • You dismiss new ideas…
  • You stop growing in your field of expertise…
  • You never become an expert…
  • You fail to allow God to work through you…

There is a huge difference in doing the best you know how to do and doing the best YOU CAN DO. The best you can do is to continue to get better. The times you are being stretched beyond what you know how to do may prove to be the best times of your personal development.

Never settle for the best you know how to do. It seldom will take you to the places you really want to go!

What’s your current plan for personal development?
Here’s a post I wrote with a simple method to writing your own personal development plan: Personal Development Plan

Step Across the Line to Leadership Excellence

I love watching the dynamics of organizational growth and leadership. It is always interesting to me how people approach the position they are given. Some step up and lead quickly…others take a short time to adjust to the organizational culture before leading…some never move from employee to a leader on a team. I personally like to surround myself with leaders. It’s harder to lead leaders.  Managing workers who are told every move to make is easier in structure, but, in my opinion, it’s more effective, more productive, and more fun to create environments that let’s people lead.  (Read a similar post about this difference HERE.)

I want to encourage you to step across the line to leadership excellence.  You don’t have to have a title or a position to be a leader in your organization.  You just have to respond as a leader.  Others will follow your influence.  Too many people never take the initiative to personally become the leader God has equipped them to be.  Moving from an average employee to one of excellence takes self-initiative.  Are you up for the challenge?

Here are a few examples of what I mean by stepping across the line to leadership excellence:

Are you willing to step across the line? What would you add to my list?

Clarksville Now Interviews Pastor Ron Edmondson

We have a new local online magazine in our community called Clarksville Now. Recently they asked me to participate in a series of interviews they are doing with people in the community.  I realized I hadn’t even shared my answers with my family, so I did this weekend.

Since you often don’t get to know the online person behind a blog, I thought I’d share with you also.

Here’s where we’re giving you a chance to find out more about different people in our community. We recently interviewed Pastor Ron Edmondson of Grace Community Church.

How long have you been in Clarksville, What brought you to Clarksville?
I’m an original Clarksvillian and my family has been here for as long as I can trace. We are the Edmondson Ferry Road Edmondson’s.

Tell us about your family. Are you married? How many kids? Any siblings?
I’m married to my best friend Cheryl and together we have two boys, Jeremy 21 and Nate 18. Jeremy just graduated from Austin Peay and is a third generation AP grad. Nate is a freshman at Moody Bible College in Chicago. I have one older brother and one younger sister.

What do you like most about Clarksville?

To read the rest of this interview, click HERE.

So did you learn anything you didn’t know?

The Competitive Nature: Could It Be Used for Good in the Church?

There’s a competitive spirit in most of the leaders I know…even church leaders. I saw mine kick in while running recently…

It was 6 AM and already 76 degrees with near 90% humidity. I was casually running, listening to our former worship pastor and my friend Daniel Doss’s song Masterpiece, when out of the corner of my eye I sensed someone trying to pass me. I looked around and it was a girl! She’s the wife and sister of two good friends from college, and a dedicated athlete, so I may have normally been okay with her passing me, but something snapped in me. I exchanged a few cordial remarks and then I gradually picked up speed. I killed myself…and I suffered for it the next day…but I won! YEA!!!Not that it was a race, and I’m sure she could have taken me had she wanted to, but there was the thrill of victory when I pulled ahead on the road.

I have written about this concept before (read a previous posts HERE and HERE) and I know it creates controversy to talk about, but what if we used that competitive spirit in a way that helped grow the Kingdom? Is there a way to satisfy a natural tendency of many leaders and still glorify God? (Seriously, I’d love your input!)

As I reflect on Scripture, Jesus picked disciples who seemed to have a competitive spirit about them. (Consider Matthew 18:1-3 and Mark 10:35-45) Jesus didn’t condemn the disciples for entering a competition. He even acknowledged, “Whoever wants to be great”. Then He simply pointed them back to the correct way for a disciple of Jesus to compete: in service to others. Consider also Paul’s encouragement in 1 Corinthians 9:24.

Personally, I think we should not be as afraid or freaked out when the natural competitive nature rises. Instead of asking people to check that competitive spirit at the door (along with enthusiasm and excitement), I think we should learn to channel it towards energy, which honors God, serves others, and advances the mission He has given the church. The strange thing to me is that many will leave our churches on Sunday and experience the “thrill of victory” by watching a competitive sport, yet we tell them this is a wrong attitude to have in the church.

What if, in our desire to win, we strived to be great in service to others, excellent in the way we love the unloveable, or awesome in how we forgive the people who hurt us most? What if we competed with our natural tendencies towards sin…with a competitive desire to win? I know some will suggest I’m advocating pride, or even false humility, but every good thing has the potential to be corrupted if misused. What I’m really suggesting is that maybe our goal is not to do away with a natural tendency towards competition, but to figure out how to balance that with a command to be holy as He is holy.

(Plus, sometimes I just like to stir discussion!)

What do you think?

Wasting Valuable Resources of Human Capital

I met with a young leader recently who works for a large corporation. He is sharp, energized, and a hard worker. If he were in a field I needed, I would hire him in without question. He’s looking for a new job.

He’s frustrated that his corporation isn’t moving forward. They aren’t thinking progressively and suggestions he offers for his department are quickly dismissed. He feels undervalued and underutilized. He realizes now he doesn’t want to waste much more of his career with this company.

While this is a secular example, I hear from young pastors every day in similar environments in their churches. They have ideas, energy, passions, and talent that are never realized to its potential, because of the structure or leadership of the church. It seems to be a waste of resources to me.

If an organization wants to be successful these days, it must learn to allow others opportunities to grow, learn, explore, and succeed. The pool of young leaders today will demand it!

What do you think? Have you been there? Are you there now?

Great Leaders around the World: Lessons from Sierra Leone


On my many mission experiences in Brazil, often the drug lords were the ones who gave us access into the slums in which we ministered. We were invited to do medical clinics, construction projects, and evangelism. Even though they almost never allowed visitors, since we could have reported their activities to police or warring gangs, they saw value in us helping their people.  We even saw many of the drug lords come to a saving knowledge of salvation.  In spite of the violent nature of this world, I always saw the actions on behalf of the drug lords as “good leadership”, because they were willing to jeopardize their own leadership, for the good of the people they were leading.

We saw that same type leadership in West Africa. Village chiefs, mostly belonging to religions very opposed to Christianity, allowed us to come into the village and spend time with their people. As a result, we saw many life changes occur.

If leadership is about influence, which I believe it is, then I recognize both these examples as good leadership, and it’s leadership many American leaders could learn from as well. The village and slum leaders were leading smart by allowing us to invest in their people, even when it didn’t directly benefit them personally, and may have even jeopardized them in some ways.  In the end, we helped them have happier people to lead. Happier people makes happier communities. Happier communities make a leader’s leadership even more successful…and ultimately…even more secure in their leadership position.

The principle of leadership is simple: Whatever is good for the people one leads is good for the leader. If the organization offers people in it a better life, the quality of the organization improves with more loyal people and a better leader…sometimes even if only in the perception of the people. Great leaders recognize that raising the level of satisfaction among followers helps the organization and the leader.

Have you seen this principle at work in your organization?

5 Examples of Leading Outside the Norm

Organizations today must learn to think outside the once considered normal lines of leadership. Research after research has been done and book after book has been written on the subject of leadership being as much these days about the informal aspects of leadership as it is the formal aspects of leadership. In addition to a set of rules, policies and procedures, for a leader to be successful today, he or she must engage a team to help accomplish the vision of the organization. In an informal leadership environment, the way a leader leads is often more important than the knowledge or management abilities of the leader. That may have always been important, but now it is critical.

Here are 5 examples of how a successful leader must lead in today’s environment:

Adapting leadership to followers individual needs and expectations. No more cookie-cutter leadership is allowed. Leaders must be wiling to individualize their leadership based on the current setting, economy and individualism of team members. (Read a similar post HERE).

Raising new leaders. Those on the team with the propensity or desire to lead, must be given opportunity to help lead the organization Not only is this good for the organization by creating future leaders, it is key to keeping the best people on the team. (Read a similar post HERE.)

Balancing kindness or friendship with authority. John Maxwell’s axiom “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” has never been more true. People follow leaders they can trust. While leaders sometimes must make difficult and unpopular decisions, authoritarian leadership is not well received by today’s workforce. (Read a similar post HERE and HERE.)

Giving others ownership in the vision. People want and need to believe they are making a difference with their work. To do that means they must have ownership in the vision. Allowing a team to help shape the agenda helps assure their heart buys into completing the mission of the organization. (Read a similar post HERE and HERE.)

Creating for the greater good. Great leaders think beyond themselves or their team or the vision, goals and objectives of the organization. Today’s leaders understand they play a part in a more global sense, not just for their own organization. The way an organization treats it’s employees, the environment and customers is considered important. (Read a similar post HERE.)

Finding the right balance between a formal style of leadership where everything is clearly spelled out for people to follow and an informal style where a team helps to shape the course of action is critical to an organization’s success. Leaders today must continually strive to find that balance.

Which of these is most important to you if you are serving on a team?

What else would you add to this list?