Probably more than any other time in history, the Church is giving an enormous amount of attention to developing leaders. This emphasis on leadership development has resulted in an abundance of leadership material, shaping not only what you think and do, but who you are becoming.

There is something incredibly pure in wanting to lead others for God’s purposes. Scripture is filled with the understanding that God uses leaders to propel the mission of the Gospel.

Developing your leadership ability can be extremely God honoring. However, it can also be the most destructive thing you give your heart to. Whenever you focus TOO MUCH on leadership, there are mental, emotional, and spiritual consequences.

These consequences will gradually take you and the mission you are called to protect off course.

However, knowing WHEN you are focusing TOO MUCH on leadership can be tricky. Below are 5 WARNING SIGNS you are focusing too much on leadership.

5 Warning Signs You’re Focusing TOO MUCH on Leadership.

File Jun 28, 8 55 03 AM

1. You work on improving what you do at the expense of who you are becoming.

Leaders tend to have a bias toward action. For the Church this is extremely necessary when the fate of people’s souls hangs in the balance. However, leaders who focus too much on leadership can get so wrapped up in improving what they or their organization does, that they neglect who they are becoming.

This gets played out in a number of ways.

  • Your quiet times with God turn into opportunities to read the latest leadership blog or resource.
  • You give increased time to developing your team at the expense of self reflection.
  • You rush to create the next sermon on Monday and neglect to act on what God taught you on Sunday.

This “do” mentality is pretty typical for natural-born leaders. The danger is having so much focus on doing the right things, that you  bypass becoming the type of leader God uses.

King David is a perfect example. Once he was only a shepherd boy. His role was to care for the sheep. However, God didn’t choose David to lead the nation of Israel because he was a great shepherd. David had always been a better man than a shepherd or leader. It was the heart of David that gave him the anointing.

God didn’t appoint him ruler over Israel because of what he proved he could do, but because of who he was. The truth for us today is that…

The type of leaders God appoints are those who see competency through the lens of character. 

Who you are (character) will reflect what you do and the quality with which you do it (competency).  However, WHO you are becoming must never be sacrificed at the altar of what you are doing. Great leaders always see competency through the lens of character.

Today instead of picking up the 10th leadership book you’ve ordered and focusing upon what you do, spend time reflecting with Jesus regarding who you’ve become.  Ask Him how He needs your heart to change and give that your undivided attention.

2. You coach more than care for those you lead.

Good leaders want to see their teams do well. This necessitates training and coaching your team to be better versions of themselves. However, leaders who focus too much on leadership spend increasing amounts of time improving the function of their teams and can neglect caring for them.

This is a problem because as you focus primarily upon action, you can neglect the person. When the majority of your thoughts are on results, your heart will miss the opportunity to care for them.

As you focus too much on leadership, your conversations will be dominated by discussions of leadership principles or more effective strategies……

  • And you can miss the subtle pain in the person’s eyes.
  • You’ll miss the weariness and burden displayed on their faces.
  • You’ll neglect to ask how they are doing and actually want to spend the necessary time to listen and respond appropriately.
  • Or… you’ll miss the opportunity to celebrate the joys they are experiencing.

When you focus too much on leadership you might coach them effectively on what to do, but you’ll neglect caring for who they are.  

This shift will happen as you gradually lose touch with people’s stories. Leaders can never forget that those they lead are constantly changing, evolving, and in need of care. Without a healthy rhythm of checking in, you’ll quickly find you have a lot of catching up to do, and may find yourself overwhelmed relationally.

However, emphasizing caring doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice improving the effectiveness of those you lead. On the contrary…

If you want your team to improve what they do, begin caring for their hearts. Cared for teams will always produce more than neglected ones.

This week, schedule a few meetings with the sole purpose of caring for those you lead. If you are creating an agenda, cross out the ministry updates and leave the next book you were going to give them in the office. Instead, simply ask… How are you? Then listen. Don’t let them off the hook, but listen for what is said and what is not said. Work to know those you lead and care for them well.

3. You love the position you hold more than the mission you are called to.

Can you remember when you first started leading?  Most likely you had a deep burden for people’s well being and it moved you to take action. You understood that your leadership was for the benefit of others and believed you could make a difference.

However, whenever you focus too much on leadership, your heart will begin to love your position on the team more than the mission you are called to. Your thoughts will shift from moving forward the mission, to advancing your position and increasing your leadership influence.

The painful truth is that when your leadership centers around you, it will never center around the mission. The Church MUST take this to heart because the mission of making disciples is too important to screw up.  Here is the truth for us all..

Leaders who give too much attention to their position, will cause their heart to drift from the mission.

The solution to this is actually more complicated than expected. You would assume the answer is to focus upon the mission more and yourself less. Though this is helpful, this is not the ultimate answer.

Making disciples of Jesus will never be more important than being a disciple of Jesus. Doing can never replace being.  You will never cause another to see the love Jesus offers, if it’s not emanating from within you first. So what’s the solution?

Fall more in love with Jesus. 

You were always meant to be more in love with Jesus than what He uses you to accomplish. So the question is… Do you love Jesus MORE than the mission He’s called you to? If you can answer yes to this, then you’ll be more effective in accomplishing it.

4. Your calendar reflects a love for progress, not people.

Our calendars, like our budgets, reveal what’s most important to us. Where you spend your time and money reflects what you love.

Looking at my calendar and budget for that matter, would reveal a love for meetings at Starbucks and cafe mocha lattes.

In all seriousness, whenever I focus too much on leadership, my calendar begins to show a love for progress not people. I’ll spend an increasing amount of time creating and planning for a preferred future and neglect to love those God has entrusted to me.

We must remember, our call is to the build the kingdom of God and not the organization of men. The kingdom of God demands we give priority to people over tasks. 

The test and solution is simple. Look at your calendar and what does it reveal? A love for progress or people? Both are important and can co-exist beautifully. However, a heart beginning to idolize leadership will begin replacing people.

5. You care more about the crowd who is safe than one who is lost.

Jesus has a bias toward the lost. During His time here on earth He was constantly speaking and working to reach those who many thought had no business in the Church.

To Jesus, those who were lost were cherished in His kingdom. His focus was to save the ONE who needed Him. The leper, the paralytic, the blind man, the woman at the well, the tax collector….

These individuals and more were never lost to the crowd.

However, the sad reality is that when you focus too much on leadership, you can begin to care more about the crowd. Whether it’s to lead them or please them, the love for the crowd can distract you from pursuing the ONE.

Your heart will begin to love numbers instead of names; crowds instead of individuals.

Bottom line, if you focus too much on leadership, you’ll stay with the 99 sheep and neglect the one who is lost, and that is not the type of shepherd God calls us to be.

Solution: Pray for God to give you eyes to see the ONE who is lost. This doesn’t mean you spend every waking moment tracking down and dragging people to where you want them to go. It simply means, you are willing to reorient your heart to love the one who is far from Jesus, instead of only leading the crowd who already knows Him. If your heart has become calloused to the lost, the crowd you lead won’t ache to save them.

What About You?

What did you think about the 5 Warning signs?  Anything you would add? Comments are celebrated below! Hit the share button if it was helpful.