3 Roadblocks That Leaders Can Overcome
By Dale Sellers*
I knew the day was coming—I’d been sensing it for some time.
Our church had been cruising along for years, experiencing steady growth and a vibrant community anchored around a strong vision. New people checked us out every week. We saw people committing their lives to Jesus on a continual basis.
But under the surface were obstacles that were being ignored. Eventually, it happened. Our momentum came to a screeching halt as we experienced a major church split.
To make matters worse, it was my failure as a leader that led to the split because I took shortcuts while trying to avoid conflict. Instead of casting a vision, I simply ignored the situation, thinking it would resolve itself. But the shortcuts led to a much larger and more divisive outcome.
I meet so many pastors who are afraid to cast vision because past failure has left them paralyzed. They are terrified to be wrong and plagued by insecurity. They’ve been trained to teach scripture but feel ill-equipped to lead.
Casting vision is one of the three roles a senior pastor cannot delegate. If you don’t wear this mantle purposefully, your ministry will always play it safe, doing the same thing each year with very little impact or growth.
Here are three of the most common roadblocks that leaders face to casting vision and some thoughts on how to overcome them:
Roadblock #1: Past Failures
Personal failure has a greater impact on spiritual leaders than most people. There is so much pressure and expectation on us.
Yet we often forget that the majority of leaders in the Bible experienced some type of failure.
Embracing failure and learning from it is often the first step for removing the blinders that keep you from vision clarity.
You may find it helpful to study the story of the Prophet Elijah. He was a man that God used in unbelievable ways to demonstrate His power and plan (1 Kings 17-19).
However, Elijah came to a breaking point and considered suicide because he was exhausted from doing ministry. Eventually, God twice asks him this question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9,13). Or to put it like we might today, “How did you get to this place, Elijah?”
If you’re stuck, you can return to a path of renewed vision and leadership success by asking the same question: How did I get where I am today as a leader?
- What events led to my failure?
- Who did I allow to influence or intimidate my life in a negative way?
- When did I begin to sense that I was heading down the wrong path?
Ask those questions and ask God to give you a renewed vision.
Roadblock #2: Insecurity
Nothing creates a fear to cast vision more than insecurity.
Insecurity in a leader may be the most detrimental attribute he has to overcome. The insecure leader may attempt to be intimidating and aggressive. Or he may be indecisive and passive. No matter how he reacts, the focus of the insecure leader’s vision is more upon trying to hide his insecurity from those around him instead of where he wants to lead the ministry.
But when you embrace your strengths over your weaknesses, you cultivate confidence.
To overcome insecurity, I encourage you to focus on these five leadership attributes described by John Maxwell:
- Truth: Be honest with yourself about your giftedness, leadership strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not sure of your strengths, use an assessment like Leading From Your Strengths.
- Identity: Intentionally study the scriptures with a focus on who you are in Christ.
- Brokenness: Personally own the scriptural principle which teaches that weakness reveals strength.
- Purpose: Discover and put into practice your God-given calling.
- Give and Receive the Blessing: Learn to let others love you and do the same for them.
As you identify your personal strengths and put them into practice, ask God for a renewed confidence in the vision He has given you.
Roadblock #3: Skills
Of the three factors that lead to paralysis, this may be the most common yet the easiest to correct. It still amazes me how many pastors are trained in how to teach the Scriptures but not trained in basic leadership principles. We lack the skills needed to clarify vision and communicate it. The good news is that training is available!
- Utilize the plentiful amount of media resources available today.
I find podcasts like The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast to be very helpful.
- Consider investing in hiring a personal leadership coach.
There are coaching opportunities available for leaders in various leadership situations through The Unstuck Group.
- Attend leadership conferences
I find it easier to learn, process, and apply small amounts of information over a longer period time than usually allotted at a conference. However, conferences can be helpful when you’re learning a specific skill.
Cast Your Vision with Confidence
Don’t allow failure, insecurity or a lack of training to rob you of fulfilling the vision God has for your church. He’s entrusted it to your leadership. Let these words from the prophet Habakkuk encourage you today:
“And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time. “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance – full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive” (The Message).
This post first appeared on The Unstuck Group’s blog.
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